You can have your high quality tomatoes all year long by canning them. There are so many ways to preserve your tomatoes using the canning process. I hope I can convince you to start learning how to preserve your own food with a series of canning recipes that I personally use myself. I am also adding a few bonus recipes that were handed down from from my grandmother, who is from Ukraine and brought all her delicious recipes with her.
As far as I can remember, I think that I am the only one in the family that has carried on the tradition of preserving food. The few cousins that I know had no interest in getting their hands dirty by growing or eating homegrown goodness. I do it simply because I enjoy it, long before the dangers of GMO and other preservatives that are definitely not good for you. Now that I have been doing it for many years, I am glad I have this knowledge and I am happy to pass it onto you.
Think About This
Ponder for a moment if you will. How good will you feel when you pull a jar of tomatoes out of your cupboard that you put together? You know what’s in it. There will be nothing in that jar that can possible hurt your family. We as people must take this seriously. The FDA is out of control. They approve things things to be put into our food that could potentially harm our bodies. Then Big Pharma comes along and gives you drugs to control the disease that caused your problems by eating the chemicals added to your food.
All processed foods can kill you eventually. No, I am not crazy. I have done extensive research about processed foods and what is in it. I have given up my beloved Mac N Cheese in the box for almost 4 years now. I am 62, I take no medications simply because I only eat fresh or homegrown. If I don’t grow it myself, I buy it from my local farmers market. I do not have high blood pressure, I do not have what a normal 62 year old would have. I have my aches and pains with arthritis degeneration but I manage it and can even slow it down by eating anti-inflammatory weeds and wild food. It is not that hard once you get used to it. It will take a lot of practice, but in the end your quality of life and the quality of your family will greatly enhance.
I still work up to 12 hour days in the factory, but I make time to do what I have to do to keep healthy. Eat fruit and vegetables at work for lunch instead of McDonalds. I will be posting a list of good and easy foods to eat at work at a later date so stay tuned.
Getting Ready to Can those Tomatoes
We have all our supplies ready from my previous post, getting ready and we are ready to get started.
How many jars do you need? Tomatoes usually are canned in quarts, unless you are making salsa or chili sauce, we will be using quarts.
Which tomatoes are good for canning? I have used many different kinds, but for you as a beginner, I would like to help you decide which ones to can for best yield and taste. Here are my picks.
Any variety of Roma. You need a paste variety tomato, which is dryer, has more pulp, less juice and less seeds. You don’t want a jar full of water, you want tomatoes and some water. Choosing the best possible tomato for your canning is crucial to your success. Unless you have an abundance of another type of tomato and choose to can them so as not to waste them, I would stick with the Roma tomato or the other ones I listed below. Your local farmer will happily tell you which ones are good for canning. Learn from the pros that grow them.
- San Marzano
- Big Mama
- Jersey Giant
- Amish Paste
- miniature Juliet
Remember , do not buy from a market. Tomatoes shipped to market are not for canning. They are raised for shipping, not for taste. Go to a farmers market or grow your own.
Your food canning area must be clean and free of dust and dirt. I mean really clean. Wipe down all surfaces with disinfectant of your choice. If you have animals, keep them out of kitchen and wait 15 minutes for dander and dust to settle. Then clean all surface areas where jars or utensils may touch.
Jars and lids must be completely clean and sitting in hot water for use at 180 degrees. You can use a large pot for this, or your kitchen sink. Make sure your drains are also disinfected if you use this way. I prefer to use a clean steel pot. That way when the jars cool down I can just heat it back up. Keep your flat lids in a bowl with hot water. repeated boiling can damage these.
Prepare your tomatoes
Start with ripe but not overripe tomatoes. Clean and check for bruises or dark marks. Do not put any pieces of tomatoes in your jar that has bruises or marks. You can cut these out of the tomato and still use the rest.
Cut tomatoes in quarters and place in a large bowl. Continue cutting tomatoes until you have at least 8-9 quarts depending on how large your water bath canner is. If you cut more or less, just cut some more or save the extra for the next bath.
Remove one jar from the hot water at a time. Add 2 Tbsp lemon juice, bottled only, and 1 tsp sugar. At this point you can also add 1 tsp salt to the empty jar. The lemon juice is for acidic reasons. Tomatoes that are not acidic enough could go bad so to ensure a successful canning experience, add this to make sure it is acidic enough. The sugar is to counteract the acid. I personally add sugar to my tomato sauces, I think it enhances the flavor, but that is only my opinion. Do it or don’t do it, it’s entirely your choice.
spoon tomatoes in the jars, using the large open funnel one jar at a time up to 1/2 inch from top of jar. Make sure you press the tomatoes as you fill the jars. You can press them down with a new wooden spoon that was boiled. You will wind up with half tomato, half water if you don’t. This also helps in getting out air bubbles. Get as many tomatoes in the jar as you can. If you have too much juice, you can pour it back into bowl, and continue filling jar.
You can fill 2 or three jars at a time if your fast enough before sealing. That way you can put your lemon juice and salt in all at once to save time.
Screw the outer lid on but not tight. Just till it stops turning, do not tighten. At this point it would be helpful to have a friend or family member help with processing. You can enlist people to go in half with you on jars and tomatoes to make this job easier. It’s also a lot more fun. Save the wine celebration for the last batch.
Place jars in water bath almost covering top of lids, but not completely I just put in enough water to make it to the threaded part of the jar. Boiling will roll water onto the top. Heat until boiling. When boiling starts, that’s when the timing starts. Set timer for 45 minutes.
While this is processing, you can start your next batch. Starting with first step. Always keep your jars hot. use jars placed in 180 degree water within 30 min. If not, reheat water and pour on jars again.
After the 45 minutes are up, open lid and remove jars with jar remover. Place jars on clean towels. I always wait a couple minutes before I tighten the lid. Using a clean towel in both hands, tighten the lid. leave jars sitting on counter on towels spaced apart a couple inches. You will hear them pop.
This is caused when the jars start to cool. when the jars seal the center of the lid will depress. You will be able to tell if the jar sealed by pressing on the center of the lid. If it moves it is not sealed. You will have to reprocess this jar again. Remove the lid and re wipe the edge. Replace lid and screw top and set in with next batch.
The sealing can take as long as 25 minutes, so don’t be upset if they don’t seal right away.
There are many factors that can come into play here. One is cleanliness. Is the jar clean?
Other factors can be the top of the jar was not wiped before putting the flat lid on. Jars will not seal if there is anything on the edge of the jar where the seal meets the glass, so wiping is a step you cannot skip.
Also wiping the threads around the jar is essential for many reasons. Did you ever try to remove a metal ring from a canning jar that would not come off? I have, and it is like cement. I had to soak the jar for an hour to remove the ring to get to the jar. It is so much easier clean clean clean those threads before putting on the ring.
Were the lids heated enough? You must keep those lids hot before placing them on jars to be processed.
Were the jars heated enough? Remember to keep them hot before you fill them.
All these problems can be remedied so don’t be frustrated yet. You can simply reprocess the jars after you check all these possible problems out.
Yay First Batch Sealed and Ready For Storage
After the jars are sealed, you can cool them down before placing them for storage. I leave my jars sitting quietly for several hours. As each batch becomes ready to place on towels on counter I move my sealed jars to another place and let them sit. I remove the metal rings and put them away for next time, as those are reusable. You can buy just the flat lids, so you will never have to buy those rings again, Store them in your canner so they are handy next time.
Personal Family Recipe
As I said before, I have been canning all my life. My recipes are not in the Ball Book. So I will give you an awesome recipe that my mother taught me. This recipe came from the Old Country. If it is in recipes online I don’t know about it. I never really looked. I hope this is genuine and the first time you seen it. If not, than some other person published the same recipe that came from the old days when canning was the only option to preserve food.
This recipe is used along with the canning instructions for tomatoes that I described above. The only difference is you are adding a few things to it. This is the best tasting goulash I have ever eaten in my life and so far no one has been able to top my goulash. I am the queen.
Prepare your tomatoes for canning. Fill jars, this time add one handful of chopped green pepper and one handful of chopped onions. Sweet onions are best. Add this halfway through filling process. Add one tsp of salt to top of jar before putting lid on. Save that one tsp from first step of canning process and put it on top for this recipe.
As in above recipe, push down tomatoes as you fill jars to avoid too much water ratio. You want to pack them in good so push them down as you fill them. Press the green pepper and onions down tight in the jar.
Process for 45 minutes as in above recipe. The thing about making the green peppers and onions in the jar with the tomatoes is they have time to permeate with the tomatoes. This means they meld together in processing and flavors have time to mix and mingle. Make sure your peppers and onions are finely chopped. You can also buy these vegetables by the bushel or half bushel.
All you need to do now is add this awesome mixture to noodles and some cooked hamburger. This is a great meal. And you know it has nothing but goodness in it.
Finely chopped green peppers and onions can be easily done with a KitchenAid. I have stressed in many posts how easy this is and your life could be so much easier to prepare all the healthy foods you need to feed your family. The KitchenAid does everything. Not just mix, the attachments are so well made, they will last 50 or more years. I don’t have all kinds of contraptions on my counter. All I need is my KitchenAid. From chopping, grinding, noodle making, butter making. I mean everything is done with my one appliance.
If you are interested in learning about all the cool stuff you can do with a KitchenAid, Please look at my KitchenAid review to understand all the qualities of this machine and why I love it so much. My mothers KitchenAid from the 50s is still working.
When you use this Goulash mixture, I want you to email me….firstname.lastname@example.org
Like I said before, this recipe is probably not a secret but I know my family has used this for many generations. I don’t know the measurement of a handful, lol, but a good handful is good enough. I think next time, since I am not used to giving out my recipes, I will measure it and update this post.
Please stop back again soon. My next few posts will also be about canning. We will be canning fruit and jams, Jellies and salsas, chili sauce and bread and butter pickles. Please Email me to be put on the list for upcoming posts.
You can also get information on canning below
Complete Guide to Home Canning. 1994. USDA Agriculture Bulletin no. 539. Available on the web at: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications/publications_usda.html.
Sources for this post….Mom and Grandma
Thank You and have a Bountiful Day
Founder of bountifulharvesting.com