Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tomatoes in Jars

We preserve tomatoes lots of ways: salsa, pizza sauce and dried cherry tomatoes. But plain, unseasoned (except for salt) canned tomatoes are one of the most versatile ingredients in my cupboard. With a quart of tomatoes, I can make a quick chunky pasta sauce, add flavor to soups, stews and chili, make a side of scalloped tomatoes and tenderize slow-roasted meats.

Depending on the harvest, the jars can include a variety of slicing tomatoes, paste tomatoes or a mixture of both. I prefer to process tomatoes in a boiling water-bath canner, which requires acidification of the tomatoes. Because there are so many varieties of tomatoes, with varying acid levels, the USDA recommends the addition of 2 Tbsp of commercially prepared lemon juice or 1/2 tsp citric acid to each quart of tomatoes. It's important to use bottled lemon juice as it has a 5% acidity. The acidity of fresh lemons fluctuates.

We started with just under a bushel of tomatoes, fresh picked from the garden.
Most were slicing tomatoes.

Wash tomatoes, remove core and slice an "X" in the bottom. This will help loosen peels.

Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for 30-60 seconds.

Remove tomatoes to an ice bath. You'll notice the skins splitting.
Tomatoes will easily slip out of their skins.

We were able to fit all the toms into our biggest (5 gallon) pot.
Cover tomatoes with water and bring to a boil.

Be sure to stir to prevent burning.

Gently boil tomatoes for five minutes.

Ladle hot tomatoes into hot jars. Add salt and lemon juice.

Wipe rims, adjust lids and place in boiling water bath.

Cool jars for 12 hours. Remove rings, wipe down jars and store in a cool, dark place.

Tomatoes Packed in Water
From The Ball Blue Book
Click here for step-by-step water bath canning information

2 1/2 - 3 1/2 lbs. tomatoes per quart
Citric acid or bottled lemon juice
Salt (optional)

Prepare tomatoes: Wash tomatoes. Lower tomatoes into a large pot of boiling water. Blanch 30-60 seconds. Remove to a bowl of cold water. Slip off skins. Leave whole or cut in half or quarters.

Place peeled tomatoes  a large saucepot. Add enough water to cover tomatoes. Boil gently for five minutes, stirring to prevent sticking. Add 1/2 teaspoon citric acid or 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice to each quart. Pack hot tomatoes into jars, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Ladle hot cooking liquid over tomatoes, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Add 1 teaspoon salt to each quart, if desired. Adjust lids and process quarts 45 minutes in a boiling water-bath canner.

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