When I went to Florida earlier this month, my Aunt Jane literally had a small laundry basket full of tomatoes. I eyed them suspiciously as I walked by with my forehead furrowed. When I got inside the house I noted that she had tomatoes everywhere…some on the kitchen counter, some in the center island fruit bowl; most were ripe and red while others were still green.
Curiosity got the best of me and finally, I broke down and asked about her abundance of tomatoes. Apparently, she and friend, had gone down to the local farm and bought a bushel of tomatoes and brought them home. They had thought that maybe I would be able to find a use for them. (wink-wink-nudge). So here I am with my own little abundance of lovely little tomatoes of all stages and colors.
Today I am going to can a few of them and save them for later where I can use them in quick sauces, homemade chili, and even in quick pasta dishes. We will also made some Pico de Gallo and salsa which we do not generally can but eat fresh on scrambled eggs, breakfast burritos, omelets, chips, queso, guacamole salad and a host of other recipes.
Each tomato variety has its own color, flavor, and texture. When preparing canned tomatoes, choose tomato varieties that boast good canning results on the tomato plant’s tag or use a proven Heirloom variety. Roma or paste tomatoes and slicing varieties are all used for canning. Tomato paste varieties have less juice and, therefore, require less cooking to remove excess water for paste and thick sauces. You can use both, but just remember that cooking times will vary.
Choose nice, ripe, unblemished tomatoes for canning. To ensure the proper acidity level for your variety (4.6 or lower), add an acid, like bottled lemon juice or powdered citric acid sold in the canning section of your store: Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice per quart jar or 1 tablespoon lemon juice per pint OR Ii you’re using citric acid, add 1/2 teaspoon per quart and 1/4 teaspoon per pint.
Generally, I use wide-mouth quart jars for ease in filling though any jar size or shape may be used.It will take about 15 minutes to prep the tomatoes and 35 minutes to process pint-sized jars or 45 minutes to process Quart sized jars. This recipe yields about 6 quarts or 12 pints of tomatoes.
I do not use a special canning pot. I simply use a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. While canning can be done without any special tools (other than the jars, bands, and lids) I do recommend the jar lifter. I have canned for years without the aid of this tool simply by using a set of long tongs. I purchased a canning set (lifter, magnetic lid lifter, non-reactive utensil, and funnel) for $10 at the end of last season. I used it today when I canned these tomatoes and to be honest, I don’t know how I lived without it. If you’re are planning to get into canning this season, I highly recommend this set of utensils though the are not a must have but the really simplify the process.
- 6 pounds whole tomatoes
- 6 jalapenos, seeded and diced
- Bottled lemon juice or citric acid
- Canning salt (optional)
- Boiling water
- Prepare your canning jars and two-piece caps (lids and screw bands) according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Keep the jars and lids hot (I leave them in the hot water until I right when I need to fill them).
- Next, Wash and peel the tomatoes. To make peeling tomatoes easier, with a small pairing knife remove the stems, then slice a small “X” into the top of the tomato. Then blanch them to loosen the skins. You can do this by dipping them in boiling water for 30 seconds and then into a bowl of cold water cold water.
- I then diced the tomatoes and a few jalapenos to make mine more like cans of “Rotel” tomatoes I buy in the store.
- Now, place the tomatoes into your prepared canning jars, pressing them to release their juice. I use a canning funnel to keep the rims clean. If I fill the jars to the bottom rim of the funnel, it leaves the perfect amount of headspace
- To each quart jar, add 2 tablespoons lemon juice OR 1/2 teaspoon citric acid and, if desired, 1 teaspoon canning (not table) salt. For pint jars add 1 tablespoons lemon juice OR 1/4 teaspoon citric acid and, if desired, 1/2 teaspoon canning (not table) salt.
- If there’s not enough juice to cover the tomatoes, add boiling water to the jars, leaving room for 1/2-inch of air space (headspace) below the lid. Release any air bubbles with a non-reactive utensil (non-metal like wood, plastic or silicon), by running it around the outside edge of the jar adding more tomatoes as necessary to maintain the proper headspace. Wipe the jar rims with a clean cloth; seal the jars with the two-piece caps, hand-tightening the bands.
- Process the filled jars in a water-bath for 35 minutes (pints) or 45 minutes (quarts) from the point of boiling.
- Remove the jars from the pot with a jar lifter. Place them on a clean kitchen towel away from drafts.
- After the jars cool completely, test the seals by pressing your thumb into the center of the lid. If you find jars that haven’t sealed–the lid center will depress and make a popping noise when you press down on the center the center– refrigerate them and use them within two weeks.
- Calories: 0
- Sugar: 0 g
- Sodium: 0 mg
- Fat: 0 g
- Saturated Fat: 0 g
- Unsaturated Fat: 0 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 0 g
- Fiber: 0 g
- Protein: 0 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg