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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Canning Tomatoes - Starting with the peel and a dice

I will be focusing on the joy of canning tomatoes. I didn't love it last year because I didn't fully understand the safety or the ease to get backyard or farm fresh tomatoes into the jars. I spent hours by hand peeling and tried the blanching method, but got frustrated.

During the Master Food Preserver classes I learned some tricks to blanching and enjoyed putting up diced tomatoes. I have ventured this year because of the fantastic crop to not only diced, but spaghetti sauces for both the water bath and pressure canner. Unfortunately my family doesn't eat a lot of pasta. My husband likes his "cream" sauce and my son only likes spaghetti if he has meatballs and red sauce. My preference is not sauce at all. So in an effort to work the jars into the family I have decided to pressure can sauce for pizza and possibly lasagna. I know that they both like those two "italian" meals. My plan is to never buy another jar of store bought sauce again! It will take me more than one canning session but I am trying to find the perfect recipe for the pantry.

This last weekend I had two classes that I taught. Saturday was diced tomatoes in a water bath and Sunday was pressured canned Spaghetti Sauce without meat. During the two classes I really perfected the talk about the need for acid in the sauce for the water bath. I had the conversation about bottled lemon juice versus real, the lack of vegetables like mushrooms and peppers in the recipe for water bathing versus pressure canning, and the most important question of how long will it keep. I have had a few request to see the process online for blanching and putting up diced tomatoes which is the start of any of the pasta sauces. 

Blanching the tomatoes is the easy way to remove the skins for either cooking or canning. It will be one of the  most important and time saving canning skills you can learn.
You can do Romas or Slicers this way
Tomatoes in
simmering water


To begin:  Fill a large pan about half full with water and place on your stove to bring it to a simmer.







Meanwhile rinse any loose soil from your tomatoes and remove the stems. Put an "X" on the top and bottom of each tomato.  Put the tomatoes in one at a time until the pan is nearly full. It's a good idea to use a large slotted spoon to put the tomatoes into the pan to avoid splashing hot water. Leave the tomatoes in the still simmering water until the skins begin to split. This usually takes about 1-2 minutes. 


Tomato in ice bath. Peel coming away!







Once the skins begin to split, remove the tomatoes from the water using the slotted spoon, and place them into ice water. This stops the cooking process.
Repeat this process until you have blanched all of your tomatoes.
Tomato easily peels
You can start to easily peel the tomatoes in four pieces. The tomatoes will look like this when all four sections peel away. Make sure you compost your peels!
Tomato Peels










Next you will core and dice your tomatoes. I leave the seeds in mine, but you could de-seed them as well. Once the tomatoes are completely diced get your jars sterilized.

Core and Dice

Fill your pint or quart size jars with the diced tomatoes packing them in firmly filling to 3/4 full. Add either boiling plain water or the water you blanched the tomatoes in to 1" headspace. Add 1 Tablespoon bottled lemon juice to each pint and 2 Tablespoons bottled lemon juice to each quart. (Alternative: 1/4 t. citric acid to each pint and 1/2 t. citric acid to each quart) Remove air bubbles and fill with additional liquid to return to 1" headspace. Wipe rims and add hot lids/rings and process in water bath canner for 35 minutes for pints and 45 minutes for quarts.


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