Wednesday, August 24, 2016

How To Can Thick-Crushed Tomatoes From Your Garden Or Farmer's Market

How to can your garden tomatoes.

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Time to Can Tomatoes
I have a beautiful crop of tomatoes this year. It's so big that it would take every jar in my house to can them, so I'm going to cook them down until they are very thick.

I use every type of tomato in my garden to get a nice combination of acidity and flavor. This year, I was lucky enough to find New Zealand paste tomato plants at our farmer's market to add to the mix. They grew well, they have very few seeds, and they are enormous! I will definitely save seeds from this one for next year.

A 12-ounce New Zealand paste tomato
New Zealand paste tomatoes on the vine

How to Can Thick-Crushed Tomatoes

A large Water Bath Canning pot.
A 5 1/2 quart non-reactive Dutch Oven
Pint canning jars with lids and bands
Lemon juice (1 tablespoon per pint of tomato sauce)

It's hard to say how many jars you'll need per pound of tomatoes because it will vary on the water content of the tomatoes and how thick you want the sauce to be .

Yesterday, I made 4 pints of thick, crushed tomatoes from 15 pounds of tomatoes. Here's what I did:

Wash and core tomatoes.
Cut an X on their bottoms.

Boil for 1 minute or until skins start to curl.
Peel off the skins.
Cut the tomato horizontally.

Squeeze out the seeds and juice into a bowl.
You will strain and save the juice for soup later.

Place the tomatoes in a large, non-reactive pot.
Do not use an aluminum pot or cast iron.
I prefer my enameled Le Creuset Dutch oven.
Crush them with your hands until they are broken up.

Simmer, uncovered, on medium low heat until it thickens. This could take several hours. Add salt if desired. 

While the sauce is simmering and reducing, wash your pint jars very well.  Place the lids and caps in a pot of boiling water. 

Bring a large water bath canning pot to a boil. Keep the pint jars in the hot canning pot until they are needed. This is not just for sterilization, but to prevent breakage later if there is a temperature differential.

Cook down to the desired consistency.
You are now ready to can.

Carefully remove the jars from the hot bath and drain.Place a towel or magazine under them (do not place on a cold counter).
Put 1 tablespoon of lemon or lime juice in every pint jar.

Fill to within a quarter inch of the top.

Wipe the rims clean.
Put on the boiled lid and cap.
Screw firm but not too tight.

Place in boiling water for 35 minutes.
Water should cover jars by 2 inches.
Remove carefully using a jar lifter and place on a towel.

Let the jars cool on a towel.
Label with the date and store in a dark, cool, cabinet.

What about that Juice?
Remember that big bowl of juice and seeds you have from the initial squeezing of the tomatoes? My 15 pounds of tomatoes yielded 4 pints of tomato sauce but there was also 3 pints of juice I didn't want to waste. So I strained out the seeds, and saved it. 

Strain seeds and save the juice.

Use in soups, cook with veggies (it's great for zucchini), or drink it. Refrigerate or freeze for later.

And don't forget to save your favorite seeds for next year. Once you have fermented and dried them, store them in the refrigerator.

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