This post was written by Denise.
The last two months have been very chaotic for me. For those who don’t already know, I had a cousin who developed cancer and died soon after. I was her primary caregiver and advocate. This summer has been dedicated to her care, and now, dealing with her estate.
To make it easier to manage her care, and the care of her pets, I moved into her home with my dogs for the summer. As a result, my vegetable garden at my own home has been very badly neglected. I was home for the first time in weeks last weekend and saw a garden filled with weeds….
And… tomatoes! Lots and lots of tomatoes!
Yes, those lovely tomatoes plants seem to be able to withstand just about any harsh condition, even owner neglect.
Now I had a new dilemma. I had eight tomato plants with a lot of ripe tomatoes hanging on them. I certainly didn’t want to lose the harvest, but I also knew I could never eat them all before they went bad.
What to do?
Why, can them, of course!
Easy and Cheap
Canning tomatoes is fast, easy, and fairly inexpensive as it doesn’t require a lot of special equipment. Because tomatoes are so high in acid, they can be canned with a water bath method, meaning you don’t have to purchase an expensive pressure canner. Once canned, the tomatoes should last up to a year.
First off, there are several items you will need to get started:
• Jars, Lids, and Rings (pint or quart size)
• A Large Pot
• Jar Grabber (used to handle the jars when they are in boiling water)
• Lid Lifer (a little magnetic stick that will help you life the lids out of boiling water when you sanitize them)
• Rack (for holding full jars when you are boiling them)
• Bottled Lemon Juice
• Salt (optional)
Process For Canning Tomatoes:
1.) Sanitize your jars and rings by submerging them in a large pot of boiling water for a couple minutes. This is an important step to ensure that you don’t allow any bacteria into your finished product.
2.) Remove the tomato skins. There is a fast and easy way to do this that you may not already know. Simply insert the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for 30-60 seconds and then remove and immediately submerge them into ice cold water. This will cause the skins to crack and they will easily slide right off. Do not leave the skins on when you can tomatoes as they will cause a strong, bitter taste. Also, be sure to remove any stems, cores, or tough parts from the tomatoes before canning.
3.) Fill jars with tomatoes – you can leave them whole or cut them up into pieces. Add lemon juice (1 Tablespoon for pints, 2 Tablespoons for quarts) and a teaspoon or so of salt (optional).
4.) Boil the jar lids for 2 minutes. This not only sanitizes them, it also softens up the “gum” around the lip that will eventually form the seal on your cans.
5.) Add boiling water to the jars and fill to ½ inch from the top. NOTE: Some people like to use boiling tomato juice instead of water.
6.) Check for bubbles in the jars, which can cause spoilage if allowed to remain. You can gently run a plastic or wood utensil (like a spoon) around the sides of the jars to eliminate any air bubbles.
7.) Put the lids on the jars, followed by the ring. DO NOT over-tighten the ring as it will cause the “gum” on the lid to become too thin to make a good and safe seal. The best method for applying the rings is to make them “fingertip tight” – meaning they should only be applied as tightly as you can do with your fingertips on one hand. Be careful, as the jars should be hot!
8.) Put cans into your large pot of boiling water. IMPORTANT: Be sure to use a jar rack and do not place jars directly on the bottom of the pot as doing so will cause them to break. Cover jars with 2 inches of water and allow to boil. For pints, boil for 40 minutes. For quarts, boil for 45 minutes. If you live in a high altitude you will need to process for a longer period of time.
9.) When done, carefully remove the jars from the water with a jar lifter and allow to cool naturally. Do not handle the jars during this time as it could cause the seal to break.
It’s That Easy!
Canning tomatoes is an easy and cost effective way to allow you to use your garden’s harvest all year long! But let me warn you, canning is addicting and once you master canning tomatoes you will be wondering what else you can can. Good luck and have fun!