Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tomatoes Pt. 3!!

So, for part three as promised, I have canned tomatoes. Canning can be risky if you're not careful, and I'm not going to boast that it's this easy simple process. You have to be careful, you can't skip steps. If you don't think you can be thorough and precise, just freeze. I am not lacking in freezer space yet, but I have about 15 chickens coming from my farmer in a few weeks, so I might be tight on it soon.

Anyhow, first step in canning is sterilizing your things. The cans, and the lids need to be boiled down. You should also consider boiling down your utensils. Next, you need to peel the tomatoes. If you drop them in boiling water for about thirty seconds, then drop them in a bowl of ice water, the skin practically falls right off.

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I strongly suggest hot packing your tomatoes. Raw packing is considered safe by few, but with all the new hybrids it's hard to know if the tomatoes that your using are actually safe to raw pack. Hot packing only takes a few extra minutes, heat your tomatoes up for about 10 minutes, then slip them into their perspective cans.

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Here you see the set up in my kitchen. My husband got a shot of the large pot I use to sterilize the jars, the boiling water in the back I used to dip the tomatoes in and the bowl of icewater next to it. Then in the front is where the peeled tomatoes went.

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To insure acidity levels are safe, I put two tbsp of lemon juice in each can. I don't add salt, however you can safely add salt. I prefer to preserve these tomatoes as simply as I can because they're used for cooking, so salt can always be added later. Leave about an inch of head space, clean the tops of the jars and put the lids on. Not too tight! Air has to vent out during the water bath to create a vacuum.

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Set the cans in a pot so they aren't touching each other, with at least an inch or two of water above the cans. Process them for 45 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the cans sit in the hot water to cool for about 10 minutes before pulling them out. They may hiss when you pull them out, and there may be tomato debris in the water. That just means there was not enough space and some of the contents boiled out. It's ok. On the flip side, if too much water boiled out and if your tomatoes aren't completely covered in the jar, that's ok too. I had that happen with this batch, and I found that if the jars are processed correctly, the tomatoes not completely covered in water may darken, but will still be safe.

Hope my bit of rambling has been helpful to any potential canners out there. Happy and safe canning!!

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