Monday, September 24, 2012

Carried Away With Canning: Part II

I know, I have been anxiously awaiting this post.  Well, let me tell you, I have been busy...CANNING!

Now that you have all the items you need - except, my apologies, you also need bottled lemon juice (I forgot to put it on the list). Here's what you need to know to can diced (raw-packed) and pureed tomatoes.  I recommend doing one thing at a time.  The first time that I tried canning I attempted to multi-task and it took much longer.

For your diced tomatoes, you will need 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 pounds per quart.  For pureed tomatoes you will need 3 to 3 1/2 pounds per quart.

Gather all your supplies!

Step #1:  Review your recipe.  I used the general guidelines in the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.

Step #2:  CLEAN your kitchen!  Use a safe disinfectant spray (I do like Seventh Generation) to clean all your counters and inside your sink.

Step #3:  Get a large pot of  water ready for boiling.  This is for blanching the tomatoes (coming up).  Also get ready a large bowl to put ice and cold water into.

Step #4:  Clean all of your jars, lids, and bands in hot and soapy water.  Make sure that you inspect all of the glass jars to make sure there aren't any cracks in the glass.  Place the jars in a pot of simmering water (not boiling - 180 deg F).  I recommend putting the jars into the pot and then pouring the water over top (I used a pitcher, because frankly this huge pot would have been way too heavy to move once it was full of water).  You can just use your canning pot for this if you don't have a second large pot.  This will keep the jars sterilized while you prepare everything, and you will already have nice hot water ready for canning.  Also place the lids in a smaller pot of water, again to 180 Deg F, to keep them also sterile.

Sterilizing the Jars.

Sterilizing the Lids.

Step #5:  Wash all of your tomatoes. I measured them with my food scale as I went to make sure I had enough for my recipe.  Then what I did was scrub them with my veggie scrubber to get the dirt off, rinsed them, and then I put them in a mixture of approximately  half vinegar and half hot water in the sink.  Then I scrubbed the tomatoes with a clean cloth and rinsed them again, and placed them on a clean towel to dry.

~ 4 tomatoes to a pound

Step #6:  Remove the core and score all of the tomatoes with an "X" on the blossom end.  This will help with the peeling process coming up soon.

Step #7:  Blanche the tomatoes.  Put several tomatoes into the pot of boiling water you've already prepared and cook for 30-60 seconds, just until the skin begins peeling.  While it's cooking, fill your bowl with ice and cold water.  Once the tomatoes have cooked, put them into the cold water to stop cooking (for about a minute).  Then transfer to another bowl.  Repeat the process until all tomatoes have been blanched, but make sure the water returns to a boil before you put in the next batch of tomatoes. 

Boil for 30-60 seconds.
Place in ice water.

Step #8:  Peel all of the tomatoes.  You can use a peeling knife to pull the skin off, but honestly it comes off super easily.  Discard the skins or use them for composting.

The skins are ready to be peeled off!
Step #9:  Dice all of the tomatoes and put them into a large bowl.  A cutting board with wells is very helpful, because these tomatoes will be juicy!

All diced - ready to get into the jars!
Step #10:  Using your jar lifter, remove one jar at a time from the pot which has been keeping them sterilized and carefully pour the water from the jar back into the pot.  I will demonstrate the correct and incorrect way to use the jar lifter in a bit, haha!

Step #11:  Put 2 tbsp of lemon juice into the jar if it is quart size, and 1 tbsp of lemon juice if it is pint size.  Put the funnel in the jar and fill the jar, leaving 1/2 inch head space.  You can add salt at this point if desired (1 tsp/quart or 1/2 tsp/pint).  Push the tomatoes down with a spatula and run a thin spatula along the edges to prevent any air bubbles.  FYI, we are packing the tomatoes in their own juice.

These tomatoes are so juicy!!
Step #12:  Wipe the rim with a clean damp towel.  You don't want any food particles on the top of the jar because this can interfere with proper sealing.  Use your lid lifter to take a lid out of its pot and place onto the jar.  Put the band on and tighten so that it is finger tight.  Return the filled jar into the canner pot.  Repeat steps #10-12 for remaining jars.  

Step #13:  Once all the jars are filled and put into the canner pot, make sure there is 1-2 inches of water above the jars.  Put the lid on the pot and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, set your timer for 1 hour and 25 minutes (this is kinda long, but we are doing a raw pack here; if we cooked the diced tomatoes first, the processing time would be a less).  The water should boil gently but steady, not an extreme rolling boil.

Step #14:  I know you're tired at this point, but if you have some energy left, use it for cleaning up the inevitable mess that was made in the kitchen.  Or, put your feet up and watch a movie!

Step #15:  Once time is up, turn off the burner and take off the lid.  Let the jars rest for 5 minutes.  Then remove with the jar lifter and place onto hot pads or towels, a couple inches in between each jar.  DO NOT MOVE FOR 12-24 HOURS to allow for proper sealing.

INCORRECT TECHNIQUE - HA!  I totally did this.  
Because the tomatoes are so juicy, the water and tomatoes may separate. Once you have waited 24 hours, you can tip the jar and mix it back up.

Step #16:  ENJOY your preserved bounty!!


Steps #1-5:  This is the same as above, but you can skip #3.

Step #6: Cut off the core and blossom ends of the cleaned tomatoes, quarter them and put them into a large bowl.  

Step #7:  Place the quartered tomatoes into a large cooking pot.  Cook them until they are nice and soft, maybe about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

Step #8:  Crank your tomatoes through a tomato press or food mill.  Alternately (I have not tried this), you can puree them in a food processor and press the mixture through a sieve to separate the skins/seeds from the tomatoes.  Alternative #2, which again, I have not tried, you could blanch and peel the tomatoes as we did for the diced tomatoes and then put them in the food processor (this would leave the seeds in the puree, though).  You'll need one bowl to collect the puree, and one bowl to collect the skins and seeds.  Pour the puree into another bowl.

Tomato Press, graciously lent to me by my Mother-in-law.

Step #9:  Place the pureed tomatoes into a large stockpot and heat it to 190 deg F.  NOTE:  I felt that my puree was very watery, and when I do this again, I plan to boil the puree in order to boil off some of the extra water so that it's more thick.  

Step #10:  Fill your jars with the puree, lifting the jars carefully with the jar lifter, putting the lemon juice in first (1 tbsp/pint, 2 tbsp/quart), using the funnel to prevent food particles from dripping on the rim.  Leave 1/4 inch headspace.

Step #11:  Clean the rims, put on the lids, and tighten the bands and fill up your water bath canner as you did for the diced tomatoes.  Again, make sure there is 1-2 inches of water above the jars.  

Step #12:  Put the lid on the canner and bring to a boil.  Process 35 minutes for pints, and 40 minutes for quarts.

Step #13:  Once time is up, turn off the burner and take off the lid.  Let the jars rest for 5 minutes.  Then remove with the jar lifter and place onto hot pads or towels, a couple inches in between each jar.  DO NOT MOVE FOR 12-24 HOURS to allow for proper sealing.


Well, there you go!  Now be warned, this is a rather time consuming project, so make sure you don't have anywhere you need to be.  Make sure you keep things clean as you go - lots of hand washing!  You can treat yourself to a manicure and pedicure later :-).  This process would go faster and probably be more enjoyable if you do it with a friend, too.

Here is what I ended up with:  

6 quarts & 17 pints diced tomatoes,  7 pints pureed tomatoes, 12 pints salsa, 4 quarts & 9 Pint and a Half jars of Sauce (minus what I have already used).

Coming up in part III will be how to make salsa and sauce.  FYI, I have been using everything and it is totally delicious!  It was a long time in the making, but I feel very accomplished and have a very happy tummy :-).

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