Monday, December 14, 2009

Canning Tomatoes

Today we have another flashback to summer post.  Canning tomatoes.  I was going to do salsa, but the first steps of salsa are the same as canning tomatoes, so we really need to cover canning tomatoes first. 

Canning tomatoes starts with getting some tomatoes.  Really not cost effective to buy your tomatoes at a grocery store, maybe at a farmer's market.  But it's for sure cost effective if you grow your own or get them from a friend that planted 100 tomato plants and has "a few" extra tomatoes (really, that's where I got most of mine this year).  Wash the little guys off.

If you grow your own or get free tomatoes, there will probably be some with imperfections like bruises, scrapes, black spots.  That's okay.  We'll just cut those off and use the rest of the tomato.  By the way did you notice my nice stainless steel sink?  It's not mine.  I canned tomatoes at a friend's house.  Canning really goes much quicker and is quite enjoyable if you do it with a friend.  You'll see her nice stove and countertop also.  Makes for good pictures. :)

Get a pot of water boiling.  After your tomatoes are washed, put them in the boiling water a few at a time.  I have a really cool wire basket thing that holds my tomatoes while they're in the pot then I can lift them all out at once--saves lots of time over fishing out individual tomatoes.

After they've boiled for a little bit (a minute or so I think) their skins will start to crack.  Now they're done and they need to be taken out and put in a sink of cold water.  See the cracks?

When they've been put in the cold water, it's time to core and peel them and cut off any bad parts you didn't already get rid of.  If the bad part isn't too big, I just let it stay on the tomato until I get to the core/peel stage.  Then I have a knife handy and just do all the cutting at once.  It also helps the tomato stay together in the boiling water if you don't have chunks cut out of it.

Coring is pretty easy.  Get a sharp knife and cut a cone shape out around the stem or where the stem used to be.  That's it.

If the tomato is ripe, the skin will slip off easily.  If it's not ripe, you'll have to help it out with your sharp knife a little bit.  This one was nice and ripe.

Now we've got our tomatoes peeled, it's time to decide in what form you'd like to bottle them.  I usually cut mine into little pieces.  You can bottle them whole, sliced, chunked or pureed.  We pureed these.  Popped them in the blender after they were peeled and then poured the blended tomato into a pot.  She doesn't like chunks.

Use a good thick pot for heating your tomatoes--I use my standby pressure canner pot because it doesn't burn anything.  I've used a cheapo pot and burned the tomatoes to the bottom.  Ick.  I canned them anyway--that was 10 years ago and I just yesterday emptied the last 3 pints of burnt tomatoes so I could use the jars for something else.  Really if you burn the tomatoes, you probably will not want to use them and they'll hang around your food storage room for 10 years like mine did.  Your call.  You could save yourself all that trouble by using a nice thick pot that doesn't burn stuff.

Heat up your lids.  Really, it used to be that this wasn't so important--I used to put lids on jars cold all the time.  But the lid manufacturers have gotten cheap and are not putting as good of gummy stuff on the lids and it really needs to be heated or it won't stick to the jar right away and your liquid will leak out while your stuff is canning.  Just my theory, but it's backed by lots of my own kitchen evidence.

After your tomato pot is nice and hot (like boiling for a while) and you've skimmed off any extra juice you want to get rid of as well as foam (this pureed stuff foamed, I don't remember my chunked tomatoes foaming), it's ready to go in jars.  Put 1 T lemon juice and 1 tsp salt in each quart jar, then pour the tomatoes in to fill it up.  Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings and put it in your water bath canner for 30 minutes.

When it's done canning, pull the jars out and let them cool off.  This stuff is great for chili and soup base or whatever you use canned tomatoes for.  Yummy yum yum.

NOTE FOR ROMA TOMATOES: If you have roma tomatoes, you can skip the whole boil and peel section.  Their skins don't separate, so they can just be washed, cut the stem end off, and cut them as desired and put them in the pot to heat up.  They also are a "thicker" or "meatier" tomato--not so juicy, so you won't have to skim much juice while it's boiling.  Romas are awesome.  Especially for salsa.  But alas, romas weren't free this year, so I didn't can any. :)

P.S. Have you entered the giveaways for the herb seeds and the foodsaver yet?


Anonymous said...

Would you say it's really cheaper to can them or just buy a couple of cases at Sam's. Tomatoes are so cheap. But then, if something happened and you could no longer go to Sams, knowing how to do it and having the equipment would be priceless.

Angela said...

Hermit, you make a good point, canned tomatoes are cheap. If you've already got jars and just have the cost of lids plus fuel to run the cooking/canning it's probably a little cheaper to do your own. If you have to buy jars, buying canned tomatoes is definitely cheaper.

I can't waste free tomatoes and only need so much salsa, so I can them because I have them. The ones I've had from the store seem like they've been canned a little underripe also, so I like mine better :).

There's other things I've tried, like bottling green beans, peas and corn that just aren't worth the work for me--I buy those at the case lot sales. Definitely have to weigh cost and effort when you're considering canning something, especially if you have to purchase the produce or equipment to do it.

Thanks for your comment!

Anonymous said...

I agree completely that if you have access to a free supply of food, the money spent to preserve it is well invested. I also think canning is a vital skill in bad times. My wife and I have talked about it but we have never actually tried it.

The Girl in the Pink Dress said...

Nice post on canning tomatoes!
I canned some as well this year. It was hard work, but when you look at those lovely jars sitting on your pantry shelf waiting to be used, it's so worth it, isn't it?
Great blog! I'm becoming a follower.
Have a lovely day!
The Girl in the Pink Dress

Leasmom said...

That looks great. I like to make stewed tomatoes to go into making stewed chicken or other recipes. I don't season it, I just cook down the tomatoes, onions, celery and green peppers together and then can or bag them up and they're ready for whatever meal I decide. Good post.

Michaela Dunn Leeper said...

Love love love the pictures! Canned homegrown maters are delicious!!!

Dean said...

While reading the post, I remembered canning tomatoes as a kid. I also remembered that we kept the tomatoes whole after removing the skin. My sister made ketchup this year with her tomatoes.