In the spring I decided I wanted to plant extra tomato plants so that I could can some of the harvest. My philosophy at the time was that if one plant (which is what I usually plant) produces more than I can eat fresh, then six plants should give me tons of tomatoes to can! Unfortunately, I planted very late this year, and I didn’t start getting an abundant harvest until around…now (October). I started getting tomatoes in August, but they were never enough to make it worth getting the canner out, so I ate what I could, shared a few, and made the rest into tomato powder. Even though the batch above still wasn’t huge, it was the biggest I’ve had so far, and I figured I would at least try it out and make it a learning experience, even if it wasn’t a very productive one. I took my instructions from a Better Homes and Gardens canning book, called You Can Can.
- Roma tomatoes
- Lemon juice
- Salt (optional)
- Wash, core, and peel tomatoes.
- Cut peeled tomatoes into quarters.
- Add enough tomatoes to a large pot to cover the bottom.
- Crush with a wooden spoon.
- Heat and stir until boiling.
- Slowly add remaining pieces, stirring constantly.
- Simmer for five minutes.
- Fill hot, sterilized canning jars with tomatoes, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace.
- Add lemon juice (1 tablespoon for pints, 2 tablespoons for quarts).
- Wipe jar rims, adjust lids.
- Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 35 minutes (pints) or 45 minutes (quarts).
- Remove jars from canner and cool.
- I chose the crushed tomato path because it seemed the least challenging – this was my last project of the day and as a result, I wasn’t feeling too energetic about it. Next time I intend to do larger pieces (which take 85 minutes to can, unless I haul out the pressure canner, then I think I read only 25 minutes).
- The way the instructions read it seemed like I should core the tomatoes after peeling them; next time I will do that the other way round. Next to impossible to core after they are slightly cooked and very mushy.
- To peel the tomatoes – place in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, remove and immediately place in ice cold water. You’ll notice some of the skins start to crack while still in the pot. Don’t feel like you have to wait until every tomato is split before taking out of the boiling water – I ended up leaving them in for about 3 minutes because I thought it had to be that way, and the tomatoes were way overcooked. Any tomatoes that are not split can be peeled easily by making a very shallow slit lengthwise along the tomato and then peeling.
- As you can see, my whole pile of tomatoes (which I was so proud of!) only made two pints. Next year I’m either going to have to plant more tomatoes earlier, or find a good deal at a local farmers market where I can buy a huge box at one time. This is way too much mess for two jars of tomatoes. But, I’m glad I did it because it was a good learning experience.