Canning tomatoes is a great place to start learning how to preserve food from your own garden. Canning tomatoes is easy, fun and does not require an expensive pressure canner. The tomatoes are cooked and put into jars hot from the kettle then sealed.
Canning Tomatoes was part of my childhood. My mother always canned no less than 5 bushels of tomatoes, beans, peaches etc. There were 4 kids in my family and we all became her helpers, so I learned the whole process from beginning to end. As much as I hated this work during the hot summer I’ve been so thankful for the experience. To this day my oldest brother and I still can everything from our gardens.
Large container or pan (cold water)
Large stock pot (cooking tomatoes)
Clean quart or pint jars
Canning lids and rings
Small sauce pan to heat lids
Canning funnel (This is a funnel that fits the jars and allows you to fill them without spilling all over. You can also use a mini strainer if you have one.)
Tongs to lift out hot lids
Canning ring to tighten lids
Fresh ripe tomatoes
Canning salt or kosher salt
Stewed Tomatoes Directions:
1. Thoroughly wash tomatoes. Have a pan of boiling water on the stove. Have another pan with cold water in it. Put the tomatoes into the boiling water for about 3 minutes. Remove and place into the cold water. The skins will now slip off easily. Then you can cut into pieces and remove the core and seeds. Cut peeled and cored tomatoes into chunks.
2. Place all the chunks into a large pot; add about a cup of water to get them started without scorching. Cook the tomatoes for about an hour. They will become mushy and turn into stewed tomatoes like you see in cans at the store. Be sure to stir several times during this process to keep the tomatoes from sticking to the bottom of the pot or scorching.
3. While the tomatoes are cooking prepare your jars. Washing them in hot soapy water and rinsing well in hot water. Always check the rims of your jars for any cracks or chips by running your finger around the rim. Discard any jars that have defects. Set up your canning rings and jars close to the stove where you will be filling them. I always set a pan under the jar to catch anything I might spill.
4. Separate your lids into the sauce pan, add enough water to cover them, and bring water to boil. Get your ladle, tongs and jar funnel ready and have them where you can reach all of them. I like to set a dish towel out on the counter to set my freshly sealed jars onto for cooling.
5. The lids must be boiling hot and the tomatoes must be hot, simmering all the time you are canning. It is very important that you seal each jar immediately after filling it with tomatoes. If you wait to seal them, it is possible that you will not have enough heat to form a vacuum and the proper seal.
6. Tomatoes are ready! Keep them simmering, turn on the sauce pan of lids and bring the lids to a boil. Put ½ teaspoon of salt in the bottom of each jar (1 teaspoon for quart jars). Place the canning funnel on a jar and ladle in the tomatoes. Leave a ½ inch space at the top of each jar. Use tongs to place on a hot lid and tighten down with a canning ring. Set onto towel to cool. If you spill any tomatoes on the rim of the jar, you must clean it off before placing on the canning lid or it will keep it from sealing properly.
7. Once a jar is filled and sealed you will be setting it on the dish towel. Space the jars so that they are not touching each other and allow them to cool for 24 hours before you move them into storage. As they cool they will make a ping noise that is the lid sealing down on the jar.
8. Before putting into storage you will want to test all the lids to be sure they are sealed. Testing involves pressing your finger in the middle of the lid. If the lid is not properly sealed, you will feel a little spring back. A properly sealed lid will feel tight against the jar. You will to refrigerate and quickly use any jars that don’t seal correctly.
That’s it! You’re done. The tomatoes will keep in storage for a long time. I have used tomatoes that were canned for 6 or 7 years and had them still be good.
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