This week has been quite productive. On Monday, I sold my first two trays of sweets. One tray of cookies (lemon cookies and sugar cookies) and one tray of brownie bites (mixed flavors). It was a last minute order and I delivered it in about 4 hours. Woo Hoo!
Then on Wednesday I realized I had a few too many fresh tomatoes to eat before they went bad (you never actually have too many tomatoes). So I canned a few of them. I did two separate canning processes and thought I would tell you about them here.
First, I canned regular, home grown, garden tomatoes. These are the big, sweet, juicy, delicious ones that you just can’t get in the store. They will make the most wonderful soups this winter! I happen to have my grandmother’s copy of a booklet called “Food Preservation in Alabama” (published in 1950). The process for canning tomatoes that I found in there makes the best canned tomatoes of all. Here is what it says:
“A water-bath canner is used for processing fruits, tomatoes, pimientos, rhubarb, jam, preserves and relishes. The temperature of boiling water (212 degrees F) is the temperature required for destroying bacteria that would be harmful to these products. A higher temperature will affect flavor and vitamin content.”
I use a large stock pot, because I don’t have an actual canner, and it works quite well. You will need some kind of a rack in the bottom (the book suggests a wooden rack, but anything that will boil and will raise the jars off the bottom will work). You will first need to sterilize your jars, canning funnel, lids (always use new lids) and the tongs you use to place and remove the jars from the sterilization process. To sterilize them, place the jars, funnel and then working end of your tongs (leave the handle where you can get to it) in your canner full of boiling water and boil them for 5 minutes. At the end of 5 minutes, turn off the heat and drop the jar lids in for just a minute. Remove everything and set aside on a clean towel until ready to fill. To can my tomatoes, I use the cold pack method given in the book:
“Select firm ripe tomatoes of medium size, free from spots and decay (I used all sizes, as I wanted them chopped anyway). Wash, place in a wire basket or square cheesecloth, and dip into boiling water for about 1 minutes, according to ripeness. Then plunge quickly into cold (iced) water, drain, peel and core promptly (and chop if you want). Pack into containers (sterilized jars) as closely as possible and until enough juice is released to cover the solids (this is why it works best if you chop the tomatoes). Add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart. Process in a water-bath canner for 30 minutes (pint or quart jars).” Make sure you wipe off the top of the jars before placing the lid and hand tightening the band. The rim of the jar must be clean to get a good seal. The water in your canner should be hot but not quite boiling when you put the jars in, and don’t start your timing until the water comes to a boil. Also, make sure the water in your canner covers the jars by a least an inch.
Aren’t they beautiful? I also had a big bowl of grape and cherry tomatoes. I am bad to watch the Cooking Channel and had seen an episode of French Food At Home where host, Laura Calder, canned these tomatoes whole. The episode was called Well Preserved. I followed her directions and wound up with 3 quarts (half full) of tomatoes. I didn’t have any fresh thyme, so I used fresh basil (I use it with tomatoes a lot), and it took a lot longer to get them to collapse down than she said, but I think they turned out beautifully:
I wish I had an large open shelf in my kitchen, I would display my canned tomatoes as decoration (until I eat them of course).
Have you every done any home canning? What is your favorite fruit or vegetable to can?