I went to the farmers market down the street (I know-I’m lucky:) and bought a lug of tomatoes. A lug of tomatoes weighs approximately 32 pounds. That’s a lot of tomatoes! Luckily my assistant and son was on hand, because while I have canned tomatoes alone, I don’t recommend it.
I love to have canned tomatoes on hand during the long winter months. You can turn them into a multitude of recipes-such as marinara sauce, salsa, enchilada sauce and tomato soup.
First thing is to fill your hot water bather about 2/3 full and set on the back burner on medium. It takes a while for that much water to heat. Then get your wide mouth canning jars and lids ready. I heat mine in the oven on 275degrees, inverted in a casserole dish half filled with water. You will need 7 jars. I also keep my tea kettle about half full of hot water in case I don’t have enough tomato liquid to fill the jars. I have learned that it’s good to put in a bit of boiling water before adding the tomatoes. It seems to keep the jars from cracking-an occasional occurrence.
First step in preparing the tomatoes is to rinse the them thoroughly. Next you need to remove the tomato skins, which is done by blanching them. This is the process of putting the tomatoes in boiling water until their skins start loosening and cracking. They are then immediately removed and placed in your sink, which is filled with ice water. So, start a smaller pot going on high, and fill your clean sink with cold water, then add ice cubes. These cubes will need to be added to during the process.
It’s very important to be very clean and sanitary while canning. Every tool used needs to be sanitized, and be sure to wash your hands often.
When the pot of water is boiling, put in 4 or 5 tomatoes. They will take approximately 1 to 3 minutes to blanch. When the skins start to peel, carefully pull them out with tongs and put in ice water. This is where another person comes in handy. They slip off the skins, take out the core and put then into a clean bowel, reserving the liquid. Working quickly while the tomatoes are still hot, remove a jar from the oven. Be sure to use a potholder, as the jars will be hot. Gently slip it into the jar. They have cracked when I plop them in. Pack the tomatoes in tightly. I use a chopstick to fit them in. If the liquid does not come up to 1/4 inch of the top add either tomato juice or hot water. Remove ring and lid from oven, seal and put in hot water bather. The hot water bather water needs to be on the point of boiling when you add the hot jars.
Continue until you have 7 quarts. Bring bather to a full rolling boil and process for 20 minutes. Be sure to close windows and doors before removing the jars when the time is up. Carefully pull out the rack and remove from bather. Set on towel and tighten lids. Wait until completely cool. Make really cool labels if you intend to give any as gifts. Then line them up in your pantry or shelf and admire!
Aren’t they a beautiful sight? Almost makes me look forward to winter:)
I have a few more tomatoes left. I am trying to decide what to make next – Marinara sauce or salsa?