Saturday, August 28, 2010
A year or so ago I posted about canning tomato sauce. I used quite a bit of it but still have some left. The thing I really need in recipes all the time is "stewed" tomatoes. I was all out in February. With this year being the stellar year that it is for tomatoes, I took advantage and have been canning those stewed tomatoes. I thought I would pass along some of the tricks. Hopefully I can remember all of them. I like putting them on the blog for you but also for me as reference and reminder. I am usually calling my Mom and asking her about something. This year I am trying to document as much as possible so I have a permanent reference.
Here are the steps to canning stewed tomatoes:
1. Wash and sterilize jars. I use quarts since that is mainly the amount I need for a recipe.
2. Place a high sided skillet wtih water on to boil. You want it deep enough to hold the tomatoes without spilling over. You want it wide enough that you can get quite a few in there to speed up the process.
3. If your tomatoes are really dirty I recommend washing them so your scalding water doesnt get muddy. If they are a little dirty don't worry about it. You are going to be boiling them anyway.
4. Once the water in the skillet/pan comes to a boil, place some tomatoes in there for about 30 seconds to a minute. Remove them with a slotted spoon to a cookie sheet. Cookie sheets are great to use because they allow the tomatoes to get air and cool a little so you can handle them.
5. Take out stem and any hard parts that are at the top of the tomato. Peel the tomato. Discard all of the skin and core. Any bad spots should be removed at this point as well. You may want to quarter them as well.
6. Place in a large soup pot. Keep going until you have filled the soup pot. Once it is filled you should begin the process of putting them in the jars. Pick up the tomato and hold it over the pot gently squeezing to the seeds come out. Place the tomato into the jar. Fill up the jar to nearly the neck. At this point you put in a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of sugar. These act as a little preservative insurance. Tomatoes are naturally high in acid so they tend to keep very well. The sugar and the salt just help out.
7. You should have quite a bit of juice in the bottom of your soup pot. Strain the seeds out and pour a little juice into each jar. Now you want to take the handle end of a wooden spoon and place it into the jar. I poke the tomatoes in the jar towards the outer edge, N-S-E-W (north, south....). This will help any air pockets to ease out and liquid to fill. Once you have done that you can place more juice in the jar. You want to fill with juice, leaving a 1/4 inch of head space.
8. Wipe the rim clean and place a lid and band on jar. Place in canner and fill with tap water. The tap water should be over the tops of the jar by about an inch. Once the water comes to a boil (this takes a little bit of time), you want to process 30 minutes. Some canning books may say 20 but I go 30. It doesn't hurt anything and really doesn't hurt the flavor at all either. They still taste like summer in a jar and are far superior than anything you find at the store.
If your jars just need a tiny bit more juice and you do not have enough you can use a little water to get it up to that 1/4 inch head space.
If you have leftover juice, it does make a great glass of tomato juice for your breakfast. Or you can use it for soup. You can even freeze it if you are sick of tomatoes.
The above techniques I learned from my Mother growing up and as an adult. You should be an informed person when you learn how to can. You should can at your own comfort level. You can find many resources online. Here are a few. I have used all of these resources and have found them to be very helpful.
Ball at Home Canning
National Center for Home Food Preservation
Pick Your Own
North Dakota State University
University of Minnesota
*Having said all that, don't be afraid of canning. Read up on it, take a class, learn from a friend. Really there is something positively rewarding, eating some local produce in the middle of winter. Especially out of a jar of food that you canned yourself.
Here is an article about canning that I wrote for Daring Bakers.