I can can.

Pints of canned tomatoesLast Tuesday I picked up a paper sack containing twenty pounds of roma tomatoes, those long tomatoes good for sauce.  And even though Wednesday was probably one of the hottest days of the year (though that’s not much of a stretch these days, with the repeat heat waves) I set to work canning.

When I was a kid we’d occasionally can tomatoes, and I remembered it being a scorching, laborious process, even when it was my mom and I and a neighbor putting the fruit up.  Well, not much has changed there.  It was hot, I burned myself numerous times peeling tomatoes, and it was a lot of work.  But I did end up with 14 pints, which I am pretty happy with, and a bunch of leftovers I plan to salsafy (that is, make salsa with) tomorrow.

Canning tomatoes is a lot of work because each tomato needs to be blanched and peeled, and either shoved whole or sliced, into a jar.  Several tomatoes–up to 6–fit into each jar, as I squished them in as much as possible.  They also need to boil away in the hot water canner for 40+ minutes, and that’s if you top each jar with a little water.  Use tomato juice and you’re looking at 85 minutes of boiling time.  Because I had one batch of ‘blanching’ tomatoes that turned into ‘boiled for ten minutes’ tomatoes, they juiced like crazy when I shoved them in the can, so I decided to take the precaution and boil them for 85 minutes.  I had a hot house, that’s for sure.

What’s weird about canning tomatoes, too, is that this can happen and is, I guess, a pretty common side effect of raw or barely cooked tomatoes, having cooked in the water bath, covered in water:
Two pints

The tomatoes shrink and rise to the top, and the water stays at the bottom.  Weird.  I shook them up enough so that the tomatoes weren’t touching the lid much–there’s a small amount of BPA in there–less than your common tomato can, but still there.  But they’ll be fine, and wonderful reminders of summer when, in January, we’re complaining about the cold and the snow and missing places like this one:

Wells, ME(that’s the beach where I spent this past weekend)

If you want to can your own tomatoes, here are some links to help you out.

PDF guides from the USDA
Food In Jars’ instructions
Pick Your Own’s directions (note, he uses shorter times, which even my seven-year-old Ball Jar Canning book disagrees with)

Google should yield many more. Happy canning! Tomorrow I plan on making salsa and apricot-amaretto jam. And then, I swear, I’m not canning another damn thing until fall.


3 responses »

  1. You can do it, Vanessa! Look at all the other stuff you already do!

    I guess the floating has something to do with the amount of pectin they contain and how much time they do or don’t cook before you can them, but really, it beats the hell out of me. Evidently it’s also common for the water to rise to the top and the toms to pack at the bottom. In both cases, they’re fine to eat, just odd…

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