Canning tomatoes

Today, I tried my skills at canning.  This was a first for me, so I read several sources on how to do it, and decided to buy this book from Walmart with all kinds of step-by-step directions and recipes for all kinds of things you can can.  I also bought a box of quart size wide mouth Ball jars, and a jar lifter (which is used to lift the hot jars out of the boiling water bath).

Now, I’m not gonna try to make this a detailed tutorial, because for 1) this is a complicated process and there are lots of steps!  And 2) this is the first time I’ve done this, and until I taste what I canned, I can’t guarantee I did everything 100% correct. But I will give you the rundown of what I did!  And I basically just followed these steps in the Blue Book.

First thing is to gather all your supplies.  You need:
    – jars (various sizes depending on what or how much you are canning)
    – lids and bands
    – water bath canner (or a deep stockpot will work if only doing 2-3 jars)
    – jar lifter
    – canning funnel

Before you really begin, you must clean all your jars, lids, and bands.  I just ran my jars through the sanitize cycle of the dishwasher.  If you do this option, leave your jars in the dishwasher until ready to use. This keeps them warm, which is important. If you hand wash them, heat the jars in simmering hot water on the stove until ready to use.  Because I didn’t want to damage the adhesive ring on the lids, I hand washed those. Then to heat them, I put them in simmering water until ready to use.  The giant black pot in the picture below is a canning pot for the water bath.  It holds up to 7 quart size jars.  But since I’m not doing massive amounts of canning, I was able to get by with the stockpot I already owned. So I may be returning the giant canner (which I simply found at Walmart).

 

Next thing is to prep the tomatoes for canning.  I had about 12 tomatoes, which to my surprise only filled 1 quart jar.  I can’t imagine the mass of veggies people grow in order to can multiple jars at one time! That’s a ton of tomatoes!!  You need to remove the skins, because they don’t preserve well. EDIT: After several trial and errors of learning how to can this summer, I’ve learned there is a better method for prepping tomatoes. Please follow these steps HERE!   So, blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 30-60 seconds, until the skins start peeling off.  Remove them from the boiling water and drop them into an ice bath to halt the cooking process and ease skin removal. Unfortunately, 2 seconds after I took the below pic, I found out my wire basket didn’t actually fit down into my stock pot, so I just dropped the tomatoes in.

Peel the skins, and cut tomatoes as desired (either halves, quarters, or smaller).  This is a messy process (not if you follow THESE steps!)  There is so much water in a tomato, and it runs everywhere.  Be sure to cut the greens and cores out too.  Next you need to put the cut pieces back into the stockpot with just enough water to cover. Boil for approx. 5 mins.

Now you can remove the jars from the dishwasher (or warming bath), and using a ladle and canning funnel to spoon tomatoes into the jars. Fill the jar to 1/2 inch headspace. You need to slide a non-metal untensil between the tomatoes and the edge of the jar and press against the tomatoes to release any trapped air.  Repeat this several times all around the jar.  Then wipe the rims of the jars clean, place the lid on top and secure with the band.  Screw the band on just fingertip tight, not as tight at it will go.

 Next, lower your jar into the simmering water bath for canning. (Like I said, I just used my stockpot, but if you have several jars, you will need to get a large canner).  The jar should be submerged fully in the water, or at least to the very top of the jar.  Turn the heat to high and when water reaches a steady boil, start the processing time of 40-45mins.  (Different recipes have different processing times. Tomatoes require approx 40 mins).

When 45 mins is up, remove the jar from the canner and place on a towel and allow to cool for 12-24 hours.  As the contents cool it will create a vacuum seal within the jar.  You lid should no longer “pop” once it is fully cooled. If the lid still pops, you did not achieve a vacuum seal.  Luckily, mine all sealed!  That’s it!  Oh, except that once I completed all this, I went out to check the garden and came back with a FULL BASKET OF TOMATOES!  Of course.  Because any normal person would have thought to check the garden before going through a whole afternoon of canning.  So, my next adventure was to make them into a spaghetti sauce that I canned later that night.  I’ll be sure to share that later!