Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How to Can Tomatoes

I know this article seems like it’s jumping the gun a bit—we haven’t even eaten fresh tomatoes yet, so who is thinking about putting them up—but the paste tomatoes are nearly ready, and they are the best for canning. Paste tomatoes are generally smaller and have less water than other tomatoes, so they cook down really well and make good sauces or pastes. This article is included this week to give you time to get your canning supplies ready. . .

-Tomatoes - about 7 to 8 lbs to make 3 quarts (7 large tomatoes will fill one quart jar.)
-lemon juice - fresh or bottled, about ¼ cup
-1 quart tomato juice (or plain water)
-1 Water bath Canner- this is a huge pot to sterilize the jars after filling (it costs about $30 to $35 at mall kitchen stores and local "big box" stores). You can also just use your biggest soup pot, if it can submerge a whole ball jar. . . Tomatoes are on the border between the high-acid fruits that can be preserved in a boiling-water bath and the low-acid fruits, vegetables and meats that need pressure canning
-1 large pot (to scald the tomatoes, step 3) and 1 medium sized pot to heat the tomato juice or water to add to the jars (step 6) and 1 small pot to sterilize the lids.
-Pint or quart canning jars (Ball or Kerr jars can be found at Publix, Kroger, Safeway and local "big box" stores - about $8 per dozen jars including the lids and rings)
-Lids - thin, flat, round metal lids with a gum binder that seals them against the top of the jar. They may only be used once.
-Rings - metal bands that secure the lids to the jars. They may be reused many times.
-Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars)
-Lid lifter- (optional- can fish them out with tongs) has a magnet to pick the lids out of the boiling water where you sterilize them. ($2 at mall kitchen stores)
-Jar funnel (optional- can use regular funnel, or pour very carefully) ($3-Grocery stores, like Publix, Kroger and Safeway and local "big box" stores; sometimes even hardware stores)
-Large spoons and ladles
1. Sterilize jars and lids
Jars can be sterilized in dishwasher without soap. Lids should be placed in pot of boiling water for several minutes.
2. Start boiling one quart of water in small saucepan (about one quart—you will use it to fill in air space after you fill your jars with tomatoes)
3. Fill the canner one-half full of water and heat on high, with lid on, to get water boiling.
4. Remove tomato skins
Put the tomatoes, a few at a time in a large pot of boiling water for no more than 1 minute (30 - 45 seconds is usually enough). Then, plunge them into a waiting bowl of ice water. The skins will slide right off.
5. Fill the jars with whole or cut tomatoes, to within ¼ inch of the jar’s top.
6. Wipe off contact surfaces (top and threads of jar) with a clean rag to ensure a good seal.
7. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to each jar. This is very important, because creating an acidic environment is what prevents botchilism, a toxic bacteria that can grow in canned goods if they do not contain enough acid (NOTE: botchilism is very uncommon, and way overhyped. If done according to these directions, canning will not give you botchilism).
8. Fill each jar to ½ inch from the top with water.
9. Using a flat plastic or wood utensil (like a plastic spoon, up side down) free trapped air
bubbles by gently sliding it up and down around the inside edge.
9. Screw on tops and rings.
10. Slowly place jars into water bath. Make sure there is at least an inch of water covering them. Boil cans for at least 45 minutes—a little longer if you are above sea level.
11. Lift cans out with can grabber. Do not bump them. Let them cool. If you sit around while they are cooling, you can sometimes hear them self-seal with a pop. After they are cool, test the lids to make sure they have formed a seal—the center of the lid should be down, and should not make a popping noise when pressed. Sometimes, one or two will not seal. Put these in your refrigerator and use as you would any other opened jar. Store in a cool, dry place.

Canning is not very hard! It is fun!
These directions were mostly copied verbatim from:

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