Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Preparing Tomatoes for Canning

I just got finished processing 13 baskets of tomatoes this last week.  Everyone needs to know how to process tomatoes.  In this blog post, I'll show you how to prep your tomatoes and can them in chunks.  The only different with sauce is that you would blend the softened tomatoes and cook them down more so there is less water in it.

Let's begin:  Bring a pot of water to boil.  This will be used to blanch and peel the tomatoes.  Do this first so that while you're prepping the tomatoes the water can start to heat up.

Aren't these tomatoes beautiful?  Do you know that I will NOT eat a fresh tomato?  I can't stand the taste of them.  But, I'll eat anything made from a tomato.  I'm a little strange.  I do try a tomato once or twice a year to see if anything has changed. :)

Get all of your tomatoes washed off.  I got these straight from my garden.  I pick my tomatoes and put them in a colander that I bring to the garden with me.  Makes it much easier to rinse and start eating.  I do this with all my veggies from the garden.

This is just a picture of my pretty tomatoes.  I grew all heirlooms this year.  This are a paste tomato except for the big fat one, that's a Campbell's brand heirloom that I picked up at a plant sale this spring.  I'm learning how to harvest seeds this year.

Once your tomatoes are washed, go ahead and with a knife, cut an X in the bottoms of the tomatoes.  This will help you peel them easier once they've been blanched.

Fill up a big bowl or a sink with cold water and add some ice to it.  You're going to want the water as cold as possible when you put the hot tomatoes in it.  That will stop the cooking process and make the tomatoes easier to handle.  It's hard to see the ice in this picture but there is some in there.

Once the water in the pot is boiling, put about 10-15 tomatoes in and let them boil for about 1-2 minutes.  Depending on how ripe your tomatoes are--leave them in longer or shorter.  You'll see the skins begin to crack and split or you'll see the X start to curl.  Pull the tomatoes out and put them in your ice water.

Ahhhhh......Those maters feel so much better now that they're in the ice water.  You can see how the skins are just falling off the tomatoes.  Sometimes that will happen.  Other times, if the tomato isn't quite ripe, you'll have to hand peel it.

In this picture, you can see how easy it is to peel.  Grab the tomato so the X is facing up, and just pull down the skin with your fingers.  Easy peesy!

I like to get the seeds, core and some of the liquid out of the tomato before I put them in jars.  Here you'll see one half that I've seeded and cored and the other half before working my magic.

Now, just give it/them a rough chop.
Put the chopped tomatoes in a pot and bring them to a simmer.  You're reducing the liquid a little more and softening the tomatoes.  I've found in all my years doing this that cooking them down a bit makes for a prettier jar of tomatoes and you can get more in the jar.  It's one more step than canning the tomatoes raw, you can do that too if you'd like.  I've done it many times.
You will need to add some lemon juice to your tomatoes before you process them in a boiling water bath.  Nowadays the tomatoes aren't as acidic as in the past and little beasties are developing to withstand regular tomato acidic.  By increasing the acid with lemon juice, you're making sure the little beasties (very academic) can't grow in your stored jars.

1 Tbl in a pint 
2 Tbls in a quart

I usually put the lemon juice in first so I can see that I did it.  I just go around with my bottle of lemon juice and a tablespoon and fill up all my prepared jars.

Ladle in your tomatoes, wipe the rims and put on your warm lids and rings.

Process quarts 40 minutes in boiling water bath. Pints 35 mins.
Let cool on cooling rack over night.  Remove rings and wipe around threads near the rim.  Label with type and date and put them in your storage.


Jen Lee said...

Wow, Wendi... great pictures! Very informative! You make canning everything seem SO easy... now I'm almost inspired to go get some tomatoes to can!!! Thanks so much for posting this.

kelli(ann) said...

you are THE BEST canning instructor ever!!! thank you again so so much - i had a great time and i learned so much. the jam is DELICIOUS and i can't wait to make some peach pepper jam. hope to see you again soon! =)

ps i posted a blog with pics of our jam canning