I’ve never canned tomatoes before but I had some good instruction from the recently released Food In Jars book. The process was surprisingly simple, I started out with about 12 pounds of tomatoes that my mother-in-law dropped off at the house. My sister and I spent about an hour prepping the tomatoes doing a short blanching cycle to make the skins easy to peel off and then chopping them up into bite size chunks. I then let them cook for about 15 minutes on the stove before packing them in sanitized jars and plopping them into a water bath for about 40 minutes. Before processing I added a tablespoon of lemon juice to each jar to prevent spoilage.
In hindsight, I should have used these tomatoes for juice, or even canned them whole, because they were a lot more juicy than I was aiming for. Paste tomatoes (like roma) would have been more appropriate for the crushed tomato effect I wanted.
I was unaware that there apparently is a food canning revolution going on right now. All the better because it’s made translating older sources that use odd terms more easily understandable.
Thusfar, I’ve stuck to high-acid foods because I’ve only had the ability to do water bath canning. I’ve ordered a pressure canner though and I’m really looking forward to the possibilities that that will open up.
My roster to date includes mango chutney, which I made after a very successful call-out on Facebook for some mangoes resulted in a bountiful 15 pounds from various coworkers. The following week I bought a quarter of watermelon and found a recipe for pickled watermelon rind.
About a week later I received a letter from my grandmother. My mom had told her that I had been canning and she was so excited that I had picked up the family tradition she sent me a note that day.
Here are a couple of great resources to bookmark if you decide to take the plunge yourself:
- National Center for Home Food Preservation – from the University of Georgia, solid information to help you avoid spoilage and other problems that may arise
- Pickyourown.org– exhaustive list of information from canning to pickling to ice cream making and a ton more.
- Florida Department of Agriculture website – great for finding out what’s in season (at least for me, in Florida)