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Canning Tomatoes

Note: In that perfect way of both motherhood and starting a new job, this post has been in draft form since about a month ago. Not quite as timely as it could have been….

I have heard from lots of people that they hate to can things. They hate to can tomatoes especially — I think it has to do with peeling the tomatoes. I’ll tell you a little secret: I don’t peel them!  There, you have it. The cat’s out of the bag. We make salsa and tomato sauce with ours and we use the blender for both — you can’t tell the skins are on.

Way back in March I ordered a “canning share” of tomatoes for $40. That means I get 50 pounds of tomatoes in “August to mid September.”

<sarcasm> That’s the perfect time for an academic to get a canning share of tomatoes</sarcasm>.

What it (canning share) means is that we get a call that our tomatoes are ripe, picked and ready for us to pick up, all 50 pounds of them. For most of them: I bring them home, wash them, cut the cores out, leave the skins on and can them. You can tell our seven year old is thrilled to help.

Don’t tell my mom: I’m not super careful when I cut the cores off. I take a bunch off with them, but I do take any black or super soft spots off.

What’s left behind goes into the compost bin*.

I have a handy dandy canning funnel that I use for lots of stuff, but when canning it turns out it’s handy to have one to keep the jars clean. I get some water going on the stove, wash out the jars, lids and seals in warm water. The process goes something like this: warm jar, add funnel, stuff full of quartered tomatoes, add citric acid, add hot water, put on lid, put on seal and balance in the rack inside the canner.** If you run out of citric acid, bottled lemon juice will do.

Note: coffee is a requirement for this process. Can’t can stuff without coffee.

When they are all done (which you know because the Ball Blue Book

tells you how long they should boil), remove them and let them cool on the counter. As they cool you’ll hear the wonderfully satisfying “clink” that comes when the jars seal themselves. Once cool, check lids to be sure they are sealed and then stick them into some sort of carrying receptacle and carry to the basement for salsa and sauce making during winter.

*It turns out that last year’s compost produced a healthy flock of baby tomato plants, which I might not have gotten had I gotten every last seed.

** Three items to purchase at an estate sale: canner, rack and canning funnel. Mine ran me about 5 bucks total. You can buy them in a kit from Amazon, but really it will be cheaper at an estate sale.

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