Canning or Preserving Fresh Tomatoes
What do I do with all those tomatoes!
When I was growing up, my mother canned everything – every kind of pickle (we even had a dog named Pickles that had puppies and they named the runt Gerkins…) you can imagine, peaches, pears, jellies, jams, tomatoes in all forms. My mother always worked frantically and filled her canning closet completely. I admired her abilities with everything homemade!
As I’ve shared, this was my first serious year with the gardening. I played around with it before, but this year, I decided to take it further. Of course, as always happens, I have an overabundance of tomatoes. I decided to can them. We use seasoned diced tomatoes the most so that’s what I decided to make out of them.
I’ve completed two batches already and they are incredibly delicious. I mean, if there is leftover that does not fill a full jar, we can eat it with a spoon like soup. It’s amazing!
We are getting close to the end of our harvest as we have developed a late blight. I was going all in on the organic methods to gardening, but to be honest, next year, I’m going to hit my veggies with some pesticides if necessary as soon as I see any issues. As much as it’s wonderful to be all natural, when you do not use any chemicals, your vegetables are more prone to issues like squash beetles and blight, and you can lose them all. At least when you garden yourself, you can control the amount and type of chemicals.
Late blight is definitely favorable to early blight (although nobody wants either!), so while I am working on keeping it down, I decided to go ahead and start ripening some tomatoes off the vine and save them before I lose them.
How do you do that? Well….
How to Quickly Ripen Tomatoes
Grab a box or some newspaper or a brown paper bag and a banana. Yes, really, a banana…. When I originally said that to my daughter, she shook her head yes…. as a science major, yeah… she already knew this but the ethylene gasses that the banana gives off will ripen the tomatoes quickly.
As far as canning goes, I’m going to share instructions on a small batch I’m processing now. I’d rather do it all at once but with this blight that started, I’m taking what I can get.
- Tomatoes (this glass bowl holds enough tomatoes for about 7-8 pint jars).
- Sea Salt (most recommend kosher salt but I’m happy with my sea salt)
- Bottled lemon juice
- Fresh garlic
- Fresh herbs (I’m using basil here from my garden. I used cilantro in another batch and basil and oregano in another – have I said how much I love my herb garden?).
I set up one pot for boiling water and the other is the water I will boil for the canning process.
Then I set up near the sink for peeling the tomatoes so I can have ice water on one side a strainer/bowl on the other.
Wash the tomatoes and cut a small X in the bottom. Drop in the boiling water.
I count 20-30 seconds and then put them in the ice water.
The skins then slide right off. If they are stuck, they need to be in the boiling water longer. Don’t overdo it or they will get very mushy.
At this point, it’s important to take the core out with a knife.
I dice the tomatoes up and they will then be placed into a clean pot to boil.
At that time, I can add my fresh seasoning. I decided for this batch to use fresh garlic in all and fresh basil in a couple of them.
While the tomatoes are boiling, I prep the jars. For pint jars, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon of salt in each.
Once the tomatoes are ready, I spoon them into jars leaving about a 1/4 inch at the top. Now they are ready for lids and rings.
Next I place them in the pot and let them down to the bottom and boil for about 30-40 minutes. I then sit them on the counter and wait for them to pop.
After a day or two, I will remove the rings and store without the rings. If you store with rings, you will risk having a false seal. This is actually a pie cabinet that we had purchased from the Amish years ago. I’ve found it makes the perfect place for my canning.