Friday, August 19, 2011

Canning Tomatoes: An Alternative

As I mentioned yesterday in my introduction to food preservation, we can our food a little different then some other folks for various reasons. I apologize that I don’t have a video or any flashy step-by-step photos of how we go about doing this. Canning season makes for a busy season and since I’m already in a busy season with little ones…you get no photos of the actual process.

Let me begin by saying this is the second year we have grown tomatoes and the first we actually preserved them. Last year we realized we had an unusual issue with our tomatoes that caused us to have to remove them from the vine before they are ripe. We now know this condition is referred to as bottom end rot. We hope to remedy this next year by placing a Tums in the dirt when we plant our tomatoes. It is caused by a lack of calcium. Another remedy if you find yourself with this problem is to take your almost empty milk jug, fill it with water, and use that to water your tomato plants.

A few of our roma tomatoes ripening in the window. We use a variety of tomatoes. The big one you see is a German tomato and is wonderful on sandwiches and biscuits!

Even though we were struck by bottom end rot again, we were able to allow our tomatoes to ripen in the window and still preserve some of them.

An Alternative Way to Can Tomatoes
  1. Wash your tomatoes.
  2. Using a large pot, begin to boil water. (I use a large pasta pot with the strainer in it.)
  3. Use a sharp knife to “core” your tomatoes. Remove the stem and any “green core.” Granny says this will ruin your tomatoes if you don’t remove the “green.” She doesn’t know why; that’s just what her mother told her. Make an “X” with your knife on the bottom (blossom end) of the tomato.
  4. Fill your clean sink with cold ice water.
  5. Once all your tomatoes are cored and ready, dip them in the boiling water for about 30 seconds.
  6. Now move them to the cold water. If you used a large pasta pot, simply remove your strainer and dump them in the sink.
  7. Your tomato skins will now easily pull away from the tomatoes.
  8. After your tomatoes are peeled, cut your tomatoes in half to make sure you have removed the core. Be sure not to confuse the green core with the “meaty” white part of your tomato, aka, the flesh. (Nate kept doing that and was throwing half the tomato away!) The core, if there is one, will be a teeny, tiny speck of green.
  9. Cut your tomatoes into small pieces in a large pot. Granny taught me how to take my hands and squish them up even more once you are ready to cook them. (I find it therapeutic for some odd reason.)
  10. Now you are ready to “cook your tomatoes down.” Place your tomatoes on the stove and cook them over medium heat. You can cover them, but be sure to vent them so they don’t collect too much extra water.
  11. The amount of time you cook your tomatoes will vary depending on the amount of tomatoes you have. Granny says, “Cook them HOT, until they fall all to pieces.” I have found that for a larger amount of tomatoes I will cook them for about 45 minutes to an hour. If it is around one quart or a pint, 30 minutes is usually sufficient.
  12. Once your tomatoes have “cooked all to pieces,” place them in the jar you wish to preserve them in with 1 tsp of salt per quart. (1/2 tsp per pint)
  13. Wipe the outer rip of your jar to be sure no debris will interfere with the sealing of the jar.
  14. Place your lid on and tighten using your band.
  15. Set your jar aside and within an unspecified amount of time you will hear the jar seal from the heat of the cooked tomatoes.

The end result...with our jalapenos. The next recipe to be posted in this series!
 Note: You cook your tomatoes “really hot” to kill any bacteria and to seal your jar. We realize this is not the conventional way of canning tomatoes; this is just the way we choose to do it. It works fine for us and we have delicious tomatoes!

Being the small family we are, we can them when they are ready, sometimes only canning a pint or a half pint. We think this will be beneficial to add to soups and chili in the winter. This also helps us from being overwhelmed by all those stinkin’ tomatoes trickling in one at a time!


Ma said...

They look great:) My hubby loves jalapenos. I'll be waiting to see how you do those.

Petra said...

Thank you! Canning never looked this simple, and I like simple! :-)