Monday, October 25, 2010

Canning Tomatoes

Yesterday, it was raining.... all day. Sometimes that can be fun, if you have a good book to curl up with for example. I did not. :( So I thought of something to do. I had about 4 tomatoes sitting on the counter, almost too ripe. I have already frozen about 2 dozen tomatoes and right now don't really want more frozen ones. I decided to put on my rain coat and go pick the last red ones off the vine and can some diced tomatoes. This process, especially the first time, seems daunting and you might even think you can't because you don't have the supplies. (I don't have the supplies.) It is actually super easy and you don't need to own "canning" supplies, other than the jars and lids. Here is my step by step process.
You will need:
1. A large soup or pasta pot, a really deep one would be ideal, mine isn't as deep as I would like but I make do.
2. A smaller sauce pot to boil at least 3 cups of water
3. Mixing bowl filled with ice water
4. Pairing knife and knife to dice
5. Tongs
6. Tomatoes
7. Lemon
8. Hot pads, towels
9. Jars with lids

First you need to wash your jars and lids in the dishwasher to make sure they are clean.

Boil water in your large pot, fill it pretty full of water, enough to cover the jars.

Place the jars and lids, not the sealing flat part, into the boiling water until ready to fill.

Boil your 3 cups of water and set your bowl of ice water to the side of the stove.

Wash your tomatoes.

Place one tomato at a time into the boiling water for about 30-45 seconds. Take out and place into ice water. Using your fingernail or a knife just scrape the skin and the rest will just peel right off. (Super easy.) Set the peeled tomato aside, in another bowl if you don't want to loose the juices. Repeat until all are done.

Empty that boiling water and replace with clean water and bring to a boil.

With your pairing knife cut out the stem and any other blemishes.

I love my plastic cutting boards that are flexible for this job just any one will do. Now you can dice your tomatoes.

Take our a jar using your tongs and place on the stovetop or on a towel. Fill the jar with the diced tomatoes. (This is a non cook version so you get more of a diced tomato instead of a crushed tomato like other recipes out there on the internet.)

Once it is pretty full squeeze about a teaspoon of lemon juice into the jar. Fill up the jar to cover tomatoes with the fresh boiling water.

Using a paper towel clean the jar so there is no liquid where the sealer and lid are going to be. Place sealer and lid and tighten. (You might want to remember that the jar is hot so use hot pads or towels to do this.) Repeat until your jars are full.

Once they are full place the sealed jars into the large boiling water pot. Ideally they should be standing and covered, my pot is not deep enough so I lay them on their sides. I rotate half way through the boiling process to make sure they are evenly boiled, not sure if that really does anything but I have had success every time I have canned. Let them process for about 30 minutes, depends on how many jars. (You can google times if you are doing a large batch, I only did two jars.)

Take out and place on towels and leave sitting on the counter, undisturbed, for at least 24 hours. You will hear a pop sound usually within a couple hours coming from the jars. This is the sound of the lid being sucked in sealing the jars completely. If you can still push the lid in after 24 hours the process did not take. This has never happened to me so I think if it were, you would just do it again but google that to make sure. :) (There will be some separation between the water/juice and the tomatoes. This is natural and nothing to worry about.)

Then put in your pantry and enjoy!!

I don't add extra salt like some recipes call for because I will be cooking with them and will add salt to my dish. (We don't need extra sodium.) The lemon acts as a preservative and helps them to retain their color.

Questions? Just ask.

Well, it's supposed to get close to freezing here in Boise so for all my local friends out there I suggest you either cover your vines at night or pick everything. Today I will brave the cooler weather and go pick all the tomatoes, even green ones, and bring inside. Sit them on your counter and the green ones will turn red with time. Then it will be time to can again! (Or freeze.) This could make good christmas gifts for your friends. Who doesn't love a homemade gift?


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