Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Canning Tomatoes: The Messy Process

Canning 20 pounds of tomatoes isn't something you should do casually.  It's a lot of work, very messy and time consuming.  It took me about 4 1/2 hours from start to finished.

After using a cutting board to halve the tomatoes to juice them and having juice running every where - off the board, on top the of the counter, onto the floor I realize this was best done over a big bowl! 

Here is the core and score table.  After removing the core from each tomato you make an X in the bottom to make them easier to peel after you've poached them.
Finally done step 1!
You need lots of Ice for part 2, I'd say get two bags.  I thought that my ice machine in the freezer would be enough, it wasn't.  By the end of the night I was using ice packs and they really didn't do as good a job.
The long shot of my poaching, ice bathing, peeling, halving, de-seeding and sieving assembly line.  What a mess!
This makes it look much nicer than it was, after this picture was taken I switched over to the bowl method
I put a big sieve in a stainless steel bowl and empty the juicy contents of the tomatoes into it.   Pushing down any solid and emptying the sieve of all the seeds every so often.
As you want to keep the juice for the packing process.   Here it is pictured in a pot because I did this in two sections the juice had been refrigerated over night and I wanted it to be hot.  Room temperature is also fine.
For each pint jar you add 1 Tabelsppon of lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher or Canning salt.
Here are the twenty pounds of tomatoes after they have been peeled, halved and seeded.  I drained liquid off of them 3 or 4 times before I put them in the refrigerator and then again when I start this morning to can I drained them once more, rendering almost 4 pints of liquid from the entire process. 
 Lemon and salt added now ready to be packed.
You must be very careful not to have tomato stick up out of the water.  In the picture below you have the right way on the left and the wrong way on the right.  Us a knife or some other utensil to insert into the jar to release all the air bubbles.
 Fill each jar to just below the first rim with tomatoes and with juice the rest of the way.
You could add a few basil leaves or hot pepper or ground pepper or whatever other spice you might like to these, but as I wanted them to be used in sauce and soup and stews in the Winter I just wanted a very plain straight up canned tomato.
In the end I canned 10 Pint jars one had jar half full.  I'll use it to make sauce with some other left over tomatoes I have in the fridge from Friday nights dinner.

Because this is such a messy process be very sure to clean the rims and sides of each jar well before you place the processed lids on top.  Screw the bands on just until they take, don't screw them on to tight.

When processing tomatoes place them in the boiling water and wait for the water to come back to the boil. When it has started a full boil again process for 15 minutes.  Remove from the bath and place on a towel.  make sure all the lids seal, usually you can hear the clicking sound they make when the suction occurs and the little button in the middle of the lid gets sucked in.  If the button does not take you might have left either too much or too little space at top so you need to either add more juice or take some away, clean the rim and try again.  Or place in the fridge and use within 2 weeks.
Time consuming and messy but well worth it.  Brooklyn Kitchen is offering deals on 20 pound boxes of tomatoes if you are interested. I'm already thinking about making salsa or chili sauce with my next twenty pounds!

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