Do It Yo'self Canning: Tomatoes
Last weekend my wombmate Grace turned a deal with a local community garden where she got 20 pounds of tomatoes for 20 dollars. Sheeeet, you say, that’s a bitch load of tomats! It is, however, very rarely a problem in our household to have too many fruits and veggies. We started the week modestly, using a bunch of the tomatoes to cook. By Tuesday we realized that despite roasting, sautéing, and ratatouille-ing, we still had 19 pounds of tomatoes that weren’t getting any less ripe. So Tuesday we got to canning.
Canning is a process which has always struck me as difficult and complicated. I spent hours upon pensive hours wondering HOW DO THEY GET ALL OF DE STUFF OF DE STUFF IN DE JARZZZZZ?!? I live a very complicated life. Anyway, contrary to my fears, once you buy the necessary equipment (a big pot, jars, and maybe a jar grabber) the canning itself is very simple. Below I’ve outlined the basics.
1. Assemble your ingredients and equipment. You’ll need:
- tomatoes- 20 lbs makes up to 10 quarts <- you can, of course, do fewer!
- lemon juice- fresh or bottled, about 1/2 cup
- 1 quart water
- 1 water bath canner to sterilize cans (a very large pot will work)
- 1 large pot (to scald tomatoes) + 1 medium pot (to heat water to add to the jars) + 1 small pot (to sterilize the lids)
- pint or quart canning jars + lids (lids may only be used once)
(Lookatdat claw hand!)
2. Sterilize the jars and lids. A dishwasher will work fine if it has a “sterilize” cycle, otherwise sticking them in boiling water for several minutes should do the trick.
3. Get the canner heating up- fill the largest pot 1/2 full with water and bring to a boil. Also, get the large pot of water going to scald tomatoes and the medium pot of water heating (you’ll use this water to fill any space in the jars in step 8).
4. Once the water in the large pot is boiling, add several tomatoes and boil 30-45 seconds THEN immediately remove them and plunge them in a bowl of ice water. This makes it very easy to slip the skins right off.
5. Remove the skins. They should slip off without much effort.
6. Add 2 Tablespoons lemon juice if using quart jars (1 Tbs if using pints). This helps retain color and flavor!
7. Fill the jars with halved or whole tomatoes. Fill them up to 1/4” from the rim of the jar. Add 1 teaspoon salt.
8. With a broad knife or the back of a spoon, push the tomatoes inward from the sides of the jar to free any trapped air bubbles. Add boiling water up to 1/2” from the lip of the jar.
9. Put the lids and rings on the jars.
10. Boil the jars in the water bath canner (or large pot). They should be covered with at least 1/2 inch of water. Process the jars in the boiling water for 40-45 minutes. Remove from the water and let them cool. Once cool, you can check and see if the lids have been sucked down by pressing your finger in the center of each lid. If it pops up and down it is not sealed and should be refrigerated.
Ta-da! We’re gonna be using these babies alllll winter long. No tasteless mushy supermarket tomaters for us! Honestly, the process seems a bit daunting but these babies are so tasty and flavorful I know it’ll be supa dupa worth it in the end.