Friday, September 19, 2008

CANNING TOMATOES: red gold I tell yah!

Turning tomatoes into red gold for the winter. It's so easy. All it takes is some stamina and muscle. Come on people, you can do it. In the winter you can be happy you had made this wonderful liquid to add to a gazzilion recipes. And you know there is no preservatives, other than a little salt. You know that there weren't rats or bugs walking around where it was being made. Not that there necessarily were but hey, you know that all you put into it was love and hard work!

So lets start!

First, wash all your tomatoes. I did a bushel here and ended up with eighteen quarts. With sauce, rather than stewed whole tomatoes, you will get a little less. Cut them in half, core them and put them in the biggest pot you have. Once their all halved and in the pot, place on low heat. Once the tomatoes have released some of their juices, you can turn the heat up a little. Don't go above medium high because you risk burning them. Keep stirring them especially in the beginning. They have a tendency to stick.
Once you have cooked them down until they are nice and tender, falling apart, remove them from the heat. Add a couple cups to the blender. Only fill the blender two thirds full. Place a towel over the top and blend. If you sill it too much it could come out the top or seep out and burn you. Remember 2/3 full and use the towel.
Once you have blended them pour them into a sieve over a pot. You will strain out 99 percent of the skins and seeds. This is a pain in the neck but then you do not have to worry about seeds and skin. Use a spoon to scrape, moving skins and allowing the sauce to filter through. Once you have done this as much as you can. Firmly clunk the seive down on the side of the pot. This will spray the thick part of the juice down into your collection pot. You have to do this, otherwise you will have very watery tomato juice. Once you have extricated as much of the juice as possible then plunk seeds out into a garbage bowl. Yes you will have a little splatter around but its easy to clean and that acid from the tomatoes will help clean your tile and counters (he he ).
This is my blended tomato pot awaiting the sieve. I do it all at once so I can get my two year old off to bed and not have to clunk the sieve while she is sleeping.
Once you ave collected a bunch of juice then you can pour it into your very clean jars. A lot of people boil their jars as this is what is recommended. I dont but I do wash them in the dishwasher or was them in really HOT water. I, my mother, my Grandmother have never had a problem. But please follow what you think is best. If you want to boil them to sterilize them, by all means do so.

Once you have filled the jars, place a teaspoon of kosher salt in each jar. You do not want iodized salt. Use the kosher! You may put a teaspoon of sugar in as well for a less acidic sauce. I dont. You want your jars to be filled up to a half inch from the top. These guidelines do change. If you dont have quite enough juice to fill a jar, say it comes p to about an inch from the top, just add water to make up the difference. Clean the rims with a wet paper towel. Place on lid and screw on band, finger tight. Give it a nice firm twist. Place in canner. If you do not have a canner but you have a nice deep pot you can use it to can as well. I place a round cake rack at the bottom to cushion the jars and then put them in their. Fill the pot with water. Use hot water as it will not be touching food and will heat up a lot quicker. You want the water to come over the jars. THis guideline changes as well.

The thing with tomatoes is that they are highly acidic so they keep very well. Unlike foods like beans, that are not pickled, they will not spoil because of the high acidity. (beans and the like are a whole different process).

So there you have it! I highly recommend Ball Canning Books and they do have a website to check out.


Anonymous said...

Good job! It looks wonderful :)

Grace said...

it's a long process, but totally worth it. i like that name for it--red gold indeed!

giz said...

Oh man Lori - I did this for years - every September long weekend I joined in with all the Italian neighbours. The last year I did it we insanely did 12 bushels - for 5 families and I thought I would die. We'd get about 20 quarts/bushel - dependent on the quality of the tomatoes and my cold cellar was a source of pride.

Great job!!! Making sauce is truly a lifetime of memories and I worked out the cost - about $0.73/quart vs about $3.00 in the stores.

The Blonde Duck said...

I'm too scared to try canning. I am not that culinarily talented.