Canning Tomatoes

by GettingFreedom on August 4, 2009

After all the fuss of no tomatoes ripening, I’ve been blessed! We returned home from visiting family back in our hometown at about 7:30 Sunday evening, and I decided to take a peek at the garden. I knew I had some green and purple beans that were ready, and probably some peppers. Boy was I in for a surprise!

I took an ice cream bucket and a big green bowl that I have, only to have to ask Willie to bring me a 5 gallon bucket! I picked about 120 tomatoes, 10 green peppers, some jalapenos, an ice cream bucket of tomatillos, and 7 quarts of green/purple beans! Yes–this is what I’ve been waiting for!

That night Willie and I decided to go ahead and can the green beans so I could get them out of the way and have basically the whole day to mess with the tomatoes. While I love the end product, canning tomatoes requires the most work and makes the biggest mess. After using the juicer with the blackberries and getting amazing results, I tried using it on the tomatoes. Yeah, that doesn’t work. So I’m back to using the tried and true method from last year.

First things first–Wash your tomatoes. Even if you haven’t used chemicals, they are still icky. Then you need to get a big pot of water and turn it to about medium, or medium high. You don’t necessarily want it to boil, but you need it to be hot.

Then, you need to cut out the stem and the core. The best thing I have found is a melon baller. They usually come with 2 different sizes, the smallest one is just about the exact same size as the tomato stem. Just push it down in and cut it out. When doing so you will see that inside the tomato (which is red) there is a green core. Make sure you get all of that out as well.

Once you have all of the tomatoes stemmed and cored, put them in the hot water for a few minutes. What you are looking for is for the skin on the tomatoes to start cracking. While they are in there, fill your sink with cold water. When the skins are cracking and starting to come away, plop them into the cold water. Not only will this cool them down and make them manageable again, but it will help the peels come off so much easier. If there is part of the peel that just won’t come off–put them back into the hot water and repeat.

Now comes the messy part of seeding them! Taking a paring knife, cut the tomatoes in half horizontally. This will show you the seed cavities and make it much easier to get them out. Stick your pairing knife into the little seed cavities, scraping around and getting all the gel looking stuff, as well as the seeds out–discard. (We’ve taken the seeds and peels, covered in water and boiled them down and strained to make a “juice”. While it may not be authentic, to my surprise, it wasn’t bad.)

Now that you have the hard part down you can do different things with your tomatoes. I usually dice them up and can, or you can leave them as is. You can also make salsa, sauce, or spaghetti sauce. One thing to keep in mind when making sauce–it takes GOBS of tomatoes. For instance today I had 100 Roma tomatoes (which are a sauce tomato) to make spaghetti sauce with. I ended up with about 2 quarts! One that I canned, and enough for us to have for dinner.

To can tomatoes:

  • Sterilize your jars and lids.
  • For every pint add 1 Tbsp Bottled Lemon Juice to the bottom, and for quarts add 2 Tbsp of Lemon Juice. This is used to maintain the acid level and it is a must–you cannot go without it. I have never noticed any taste difference.
  • You can either can them in their own juice or in water. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always canned them in water. After your tomatoes and lemon juice are in the jars, pour hot water over them, making sure to leave ¼inch headspace.
  • Put the lid/ring on.
  • Process in a boiling water canner. Quarts take 45 minutes and pints are 40 minutes.

To do a sauce:

  • Process your tomatoes in a food processor.
  • Put into a saucepot. If making spaghetti sauce, or other flavored sauce, now is the time to season. I used 2 green peppers and 2 red onions (all from the garden) and sauteed them in EVOO and garlic powder (processed them in the food processor once slightly tender) and seasoned with parsley, garlic powder, oregano, and basil.
  • Simmer/Cook until reduced by half. This takes quite some time, so patience is a virtue. The taste afterward is worth waiting for!
  • Sterilze your jars.
  • For every pint add 1 Tbsp of Bottled Lemon Juice, and for quarts add 2 Tbsp.
  • Fill your jars with sauce and add the lids/rings.
  • Proceed as above.

Out of all of my tomatoes, 100 were Roma, which went to the Spaghetti Sauce, and 20 were Black Krim. I diced up the Black Krim’s and canned diced tomatoes, and was able to get 4 pints (which is eqivalent to 2 quarts!). Definitely a big difference from the Roma’s. Honestly, while we really enjoy homemade, home canned spaghetti sauce–I don’t think I will continue doing it. After all is said and done I don’t know that it is cost or labor effective. While the green peppers and onions cost me nothing, I used the fire out of the seasonings–although they really don’t amount to much cost either. However, I was in the kitchen, processing tomatoes from about 12 until 5–with very few breaks in between. Considering I get my Spaghetti Sauce at Aldi (which out beat Prego and Ragu{amongst other brands} in our taste tests) for just over a $1, I’m thinking that is the route to go!

What do you do with your tomato harvest?

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristen August 4, 2009 at 4:15 am

We really like home canned salsa, pizza sauce and I have a tomato soup base that is opened and cooked up with cream and bacon. I agree that store bought spaghetti sauce is probably cheaper and definitely easier to have on hand.

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Jen - Balancing Beauty and Bedlam August 4, 2009 at 4:17 am

No way….120 tomatoes? I'm jealous. :) We went on vacation and I came home to 15 dead plants…so sad.

Glad you were able to log on my computer this week. Crazy thing. It has a mind of its own.

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Terry August 4, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Good for you….we haven't gotten any red tomatoes around here yet. Everyone is still waiting. There has been so much rain that they are taking forever.

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darnold23 August 4, 2009 at 1:53 pm

I miss having my own home canned tomatoes. I posted some really good tomato recipes recently. I would like to know what you think if you try them. I hope you will visit diningwithdebbie.blogspot.com and check out Crock Pot Wednesday starting this week. There are some really great giveaways.

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Miriam August 4, 2009 at 2:01 pm

That's odd, in all my life I've never heard of putting lemon juice in canned tomatoes! I wonder what the difference is in the end?

I agree – making & canning tomato stuff is extremely time consuming. That's why this year I think I'm just going to make plain sauce, and then season it however I want it when I go to use it. Here's a few things I've come up with to help the process go a little faster:

I remove the stems (after rinsing), cut the roma's up the middle from the stem – not the whole way, though.

Cover the bottom of a big pot with water, plop all the tomatoes in and bring it to a slow boil. As the tomatoes are cooking down I use the turkey baster to suck out the juice. When the tomatoes are all cooked, I put them in a colander and let them drain for a bit.

Then I either: Run them through the blender*, seeds & all; or I run them through my cone-mill (which takes out the seed & skins).

I've found that by removing the juice while they're cooking, I get a thicker product alot faster and don't have to cook the juice down to make sauce.

*You really can't tell the seeds and skins are in the sauce afterwards! But be careful as hot stuff in the blender CAN "explode" and make a massive mess.

Anyway, all that to add my two cents worth :)

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Susie August 4, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Awesome tackle!!

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Stacie.Make.Do. August 4, 2009 at 8:19 pm

I read that if you leave chopped tomatoes in the fridge overnight, the juice/water will rise to the top and be easy to separate from the tomato flesh.
Ever tried it?

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Christi @ A Southern Life August 4, 2009 at 8:27 pm

Great instructions. Thanks for emphasizing the acid from the lemon. Very important!

Christi

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Lisa@BlessedwithGrace August 5, 2009 at 1:59 am

Wow, I am so impressed!! You really gave us great instructions and details. Thanks for linking to TMTT.

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shopannies August 5, 2009 at 2:52 am

impressive and oh you will be so happy when you start using all this great sauce when the season has turned cold and you are longing for a green garden again

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Brenda August 5, 2009 at 3:15 am

My tomatoes are coming in slow this year. I have never canned them, but I sometimes freeze them.

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Cia August 6, 2009 at 4:41 am

I'm so jealous. My tomatoes didn't make at all this year. Guess I'll have to go to the Farmers Market.

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slugmama August 6, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Here's a tip for preparing tomatoes to can. You don't have to parboil them to get the skins off. Just put the whole(or cored)tomatoes in your freezer. When you thaw them out, the meat will slip right out of the skin! This is also great because if you don't have enough to can right away or it's too hot to run the stove to can them, just throw the maters in the freezer til you have enough and/or the weather is cooler.

Congrats on FINALLY getting a great load of maters too! I can almost taste them from here….at least in my mind.lol

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Nicole Feliciano August 7, 2009 at 4:30 am

My mom did this every summer. Sadly I have not tried this yet even though I am mad abotu tomatoes. This week I did a poached salmon recipe to share. I hope you'll stop by for Friday Feats at Momtrends. Here's this week's link:

http://momtrends.blogspot.com/2009/08/friday-feasts-poached-salmon.html

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Jennifer August 10, 2009 at 10:33 pm

Thanks for the tutorial, I want to make sauce this year.

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Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom August 12, 2009 at 1:33 am

We are finally getting ripe tomatoes now too, whew, what a late year we've had! I usually make and can sauce and salsa and then freeze cored tomatoes in freezer bags with the skins on – running them under hot water frozen peels the skins right off, and then I can seed and dice them into soups, stews and the like. The sweetest ones are actually pretty tasty frozen!

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