Great food with a Southern accent

Lost Art – Canning Tomatoes

Lost Art – Canning Tomatoes

When I was younger, I would like to say that I grew up in the kitchen canning and “putting up” veggies over the summer to have and eat over the winter.  But in reality, I was a picky eater and mom was a working mom, who put our veggies up in the pantry that were already canned and bought at Piggly Wiggly and Super One Foods.

As I’ve gotten older and expanded my eating horizons, I have found that it’s really satisfying to can tomatoes.  Here’s how I do it.  I hope you’ll pick up a box of tomatoes from your local farmer’s market and put up a few jars to have over the winter.

One 25lb. box of Roma Tomatoes = approximately 9 20oz. jars of sauce.

Here’s what you need:

1 – 25 lb. box of Roma tomatoes  (I like Roma for my sauce, but you can use whatever you like.)

9 – 20 oz wide mouth Ball Canning jars

Ball Jar Lifter  ($3 at Wal-Mart)

Here’s how to prepare your tomatoes:

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  I use my large Le Creuset oval dutch oven.  This water is to blanch your tomatoes so they peel.

While you’re waiting for your water to come to a boil, get out your jars.  Your jars will come with rings and lids.  The rings may be used over and over, but the lids can only be used once.  Remove the lids and rings and run your jars through the dishwasher or wash with soap and hot water.  Set them aside.

Get out your box of tomatoes and score each tomato with an “X” on the bottom.  When your water has come to a boil, place as many tomatoes as you can comfortably fit in the pot to where they float on the surface.  Let them boil for 3-4 minutes or just until the skin starts to split.  Once they are ready to be removed, ladle them out in to a bowl so they can cool.  Repeat until all of your tomatoes are blanched.

When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and use a paring knife to cut off the end of the tomato where it was attached to the plant.

As I finish peeling each tomato, I put it in the food processor.  When the food processor bowl is full, I pulse the tomatoes until they are a consistency that I like.  I’m not a fan of chunky, so I let the food processor rip until they are completely pureed.  Then I pour the tomatoes into a large stock pot.  Continue this process until all of your tomatoes are peeled and pureed.

Bring your tomato sauce to a boil and ladle into your clean jars.  I use a funnel for neatness.  Stop filling the jar when you get to ½” headspace.  Headspace is the space between your sauce and the lip of the jar.  Wipe the rim of the jar to make sure it’s clean and dry so the lid can get a good seal.  Place a lid on the jar and secure with the ring and set aside until you’ve ladled all of your sauce into jars.

 

Here’s the processing or “canning” part:

You must submerge your jars in water and boil for 35 minutes.  This kills any potential harmful bacteria and seals up your jars.  I have several large pots that I use, one being a pressure cooker that I use without the lid.  Place your pot on the stove and place your jars filled with tomatoes in there.  Fill your pot with water using a pitcher until the jars are covered with 1” of water.  Boil your jars for 35 minutes.  I have a handy-dandy jar grabber by Ball (lifter) that I use for canning.  If you don’t have one, you’ll need to wait for the pot to cool down.  It’s heavy and hot, so be careful.

Once your jars have boiled and cooled, you’re all set.  Put them in your pantry and open one up the next time you want that fresh summer tomato taste in the dead of winter.  Your friends will be impressed!

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