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Friday, July 27, 2012

Recipe for Canning Tomatoes

Canning your own tomatoes, is it worth it?  It may seem like a lot of work to get the same thing that you can go to the grocery store and purchase.  But, when you think about the process that the can of tomatoes went through to get to the grocery store shelf, it can make you a bit nervous. It also can save you a lot of money depending on how much you decide to can. Saving money is ALWAYS an added benefit!  Another thing we love about canning is it is something that our family can do together. We also love knowing the exact ingredients that are in our canned tomatoes and we will be able to enjoy them all year long.  

This year, we planted eleven tomato plants in our garden.  We won't get enough ripe tomatoes to do all of our canning at once, but as we get ripe tomatoes in large enough batches, we are able to do this canning process multiple times.  The process explained below took me five hours (this includes the time it takes to let things simmer and heat) and my daughter helped me with this batch so it was family time too. I hope this supports you and your family in preserving tomatoes for the winter, whether they are from your own garden, a neighbor’s garden, a farmer’s market/stand or a CSA.

Here is our canning process. Ask your family to be involved to make this process enjoyable and easy!

                Step One:  Peel the Tomatoes.

Perfect Job for Your Little Helper!
This step is the most time consuming and a great step for kids and spouses to help with!  This is the preparation step.  First bring a pot of water to a boil.  Fill a large bowl with ice. When the water comes to a boil, wash approximately 6 tomatoes and place them into the boiling water.  Let them soak for about 30 - 40 seconds then use tongs to remove them from the boiling water and place them into the ice water.  After just a few minutes, remove the tomatoes from the ice water and remove all the skin. The skin should slide right off the tomato. Repeat this process with the remainder of your tomatoes and then go on to step two.

Step Two: Cut the Tomatoes
Once the tomatoes are peeled, now you can cut them into sizes of your choice.  We cut them into medium size chunks, but you can also just cut them in half.  Once cut, put all the tomatoes into another large pot and turn heat on low

Step Three: Season and Simmer

After all the tomatoes are in the pot, you need to add some kind of acidity to help preserve when in the jar.  We like to use vinegar, but you can also use lemon juice. We used ½ cup of vinegar for about 40 tomatoes.
Now it is time to season.  We added one large onion (diced), 10 - 12 garlic cloves (minced), salt and pepper (to taste), sugar and Italian seasonings including basil, oregano and rosemary (to taste) to the large pot of tomatoes.  You can choose to season your tomatoes any way you like and you can also season them when you use them later in the year!
Another technique is to put 2 Tbsp. of lemon juice or 4 Tbsp. of 5% acidic vinegar into each quart jar before you place the tomatoes in them (refer to step four).

Step Four: Preparing and Filling Your Jars
You will need one large and one medium pot filled with water.  Put your canning lids and seals in the medium pot and bring to a boil. In the large pot, fill your canning jars halfway with water and place as many as will fit into the pot. Be sure that there isn’t too much water in the pot that it overflows when you place the jars in them. Let both pots of water gently boil for approximately 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, use a towel to safely remove one jar. Empty out the water. 
Fill the jar with your tomato mixture, leaving about an inch of space between the mixture and the very top of the rim. Wipe off any spillage on the rim.  Use tongs to take out a seal and lid (from the medium pot of boiling water) and immediately screw it onto the jar. Use a dry cloth to do this to avoiding burning yourself.  Place jars off to the side.  As they start to cool, you will hear a pop.  Once you hear the pop you will know that the seal is secure and they are ready to store.

Please add any comments that would provide additional tips for successfully canning tomatoes.

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