Sunday, September 23, 2012

Canned tomatoes

This one is going to be a long one. Every year I can about 90lbs of tomatoes for the rest of the year. We have been doing this for about eight years and have never looked back. If I am traveling and end up having to buy canned tomatoes I am immediately reminded of why I do all the work. The end results is far superior to anything else. Below is the results of canning 60lbs. I already did 10lbs into frozen paste cubes and I will do another batch of sauce next weekend.

Caveat: This is how I can tomatoes and while most of the steps are the same please reference an approved tomato canning recipe for proper proportions. I don't necessarily play fast and loose, but I do use fresh lemon juice which is frowned upon and I cold pack my whole tomatoes, again frowned upon. Because I do this, I always (probably a good idea regardless) make sure my tomato based recipes cook at a boil for at least 15 minutes to kill off any botulism. I also wash my hands and my jars very well.  I check my jars for any discoloration, off smell, etc. While I don't think we have ever had any botulism we did have one batch of quart jars four years ago that we had to toss as I didn't process them long enough. If in doubt throw it out.

For my whole tomatoes I just skin them, cut them in quarters, drop them in jars with lemon and salt. For my tomato sauce I left the skins on this year to retain all the tomato goodness. The batch I cooked in my nice wide le crueset had nary a skin in sight by the time I was ready to jar, but the other batch in the tall cephalon had loads and loads of skins. I will mostly like strain those before using them if I want a smoother sauce, but if it is something that simmers all day I will leave them as the skins should break down more in the jars and over more cooking. The other thing about my tomato sauce is I cook it way, way, way down. Not quite paste but a super concentrated tomato sauce. It takes almost 36 hours. This uses less space (fewer jars) and I can just add water back in as needed when I am preparing a recipe. This works the best for us. Other prefer a fresher sauce that has only been just simmered.

tomatoes, lemons, salt, onions, garlic, basil

separate good skinned ones for sauce (sink) and bad skinned ones for peeled whole
and too soft or bad ones in the compost

skin the ones that will be canned whole

clean your jars and add 1TB lemon juice and 1/2tsp salt per pint

peel and quarter the whole tomatoes

fill the jars with tomato quarters and top with left over juice, add any left to the sauce pots

clean and seal the jars and put into water bath and bring up to boil together (if cold pack)

remember you wanted basil and add it into the half you haven't processed yet

let cool 24 hours and then test seals to make sure they are tight

thoroughly wash the ones for sauce

chop and saute your onions and garlic in oil until softened

here I split into two pots since it wouldn't all fit into one

core and half the tomatoes and split into the sauce pots

add a small amount of salt to help cook

remember to stir it occasionally as it cooks down

once it has simmered down at least 2 inches, blend with the hand blender and simmer more

this one is done

this one still has too much water

this is a hot pack, so clean hot jars (w/lemon and salt as before) and hot sterile lids

process in boiling water as indicated in recipe +adjustment for altitude (our is 10min more)

20lb = 4 quarts and 12 pints of whole tomatoes, 40lb = 16 pints of super sauce

This should keep us in tomatoes all winter long!

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