Yesterday was a canning day for tomatoes and I thought I'd write about how I do them, because I'm generally lazy and don't want to fuss too much, so maybe this would be of use to you.
Start by sterilizing your jars in the dishwasher on a hot cycle, or wash them in hot, soapy water and rinse them really well, and then pop them into a 250 degree oven for as long as it takes you to process the tomatoes and get your canner boiling, which will probably be around thirty or so minutes. I mention both ways because I do it both ways. While the jars are sterilizing, it's a good time to fill your water bath canner and get it heating as well. Also at this time, get a largish pan of water in the stove heating and get your rings and lids in it. I always put the rings in first and then the lids so that I can cover everything with a lid first, and then with the rings. It makes getting the lids out first with that stupid little magnetized lid-lifter a whole lot easier.
|Big: Burbank Slicing; Little: High Carotene|
|Burbank Slicing, showing almost no seeds and lots of flesh|
|Eight quarts of tomatoes|
|This handle hurts; get a solid one|
|Four quarts of tomato sauce|
Then the jars are lifted into the now boiling water bath canner and are processed at a full, rolling boil for thirty minutes. Once they're done processing and I take them out of the water bath, they are placed on a towel on a tray (the jelly roll pan again) and are left to cool out of the way of drafts and breezes for twenty-four hours, and then they're labeled and put away.
This method works well for what we need tomatoes for, and that's just a big bunch of sauce for making pizzas, or maybe the occasional pasta sauce. It also works for making catsup, which is only a little more involved and well worth the effort. We're still eating last year's catsup which was excellent, although we're nearing the end of it. So, since I've determined that I'll never buy catsup at the store again, organic or otherwise, I guess I'd better save a batch of tomatoes for making catsup for this year.
It's now only a matter of time and the end of tomato season will be upon us, particularly as it seems we are in for an early fall this year. If frost threatens and you have a whole bunch of green tomatoes left on the vine, don't harvest them and risk they won't ripen. Instead, pull up the whole plant and hang it upside down in a shed or the garage. You'll get more to ripen that way, maybe even all of them.
Tomato sauce is a huge staple in my pantry, so getting tomatoes grown and processed for it takes up a pretty good chunk of my time. I like the fact that I grew them and cooked them and canned the sauce, and I like the fact that I'm reusing the jars and will do it again next year. It's all hard work, but worth it, I think.