Canning Tomatoes

This isn’t a recipe. More like a nod to all the recipes that include my home canned tomatoes. While I have learned in recent years to love gardening, I did not grow these. It’s very difficult as a home gardener to have enough ripe tomatoes at any one time to make canning worthwhile. I like to can in large quantities if I’m going to bother. So, don’t feel like you can’t can tomatoes either because you don’t garden at all or, like me, you only garden a little. I bought these tomatoes, at a bulk rate, from a local farm. There are two important things in that sentence: local and bulk rate. You want tomatoes from close by. They’ll taste better and, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s just important to support local farmers. And ordering in volume just makes sense. You get a better rate per pound. Split you order with a friend or two if need be.

I am fortunate to have two water bath canners; enough shelf space in the basement to store the fruits of my labor, and a mom who is willing to contribute a lot more than she gets out of this endeavor. Thanks, Mom! But you can do this with a big pot and some jars. I don’t buy jars any more. My house is FULL of them. My mom and my dad are avid auction and yard sale attendees so they pick up more jars than I could use. I also have a number of friends who are kind enough to remember to return my jars when they’ve consumed the yummy contents, whatever they may be. You can recycle the jars and bands year after year, leaving only the lids as an annual expense.

Be aware that there is some effort involved here. My mom and I processed over 100 lbs of tomatoes today. It took 8 hours from peeling the first fruit to washing the last dish. To can tomatoes you have to peel them; add lemon juice and maybe salt to the jars; pack them with tomatoes; fill in the spaces with the juice that runs out of the tomatoes; cap them; boil them 40 minutes; rest them 5 minutes in the hot water; move them to the counter to seal. When they seal themselves you’ll hear a lovely “plink” from each jar. It sounds like a lot, and it is, but it’s really worth it. REALLY.   You just won’t believe the difference in flavor.

So, today we canned 37 quarts of tomatoes.  Seven more than last year.  Both mom and I should be set for the year.  No need to buy a single tomato.

If you’re curious about canning check out the Ball Guide to Home Preserving.  It’s a terrific guide!  I’ll also do what I can to answer any questions or point you in the right direction.

Enjoy the fruits of Summer in the dead of Winter!  Happy canning!

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