Home Canning Tomatoes

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.

Canned Tomatoes

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:

Canned Grape and Cherry Tomatoes

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?

Happy Canning!

Homemade Tomato Soup

My mother used to make a recipe for a ground beef casserole that she called Meat Jamboree.  I was a delicious combination of ground beef, canned tomato soup, egg noodles, green beans and cheese.  When I decided I wanted to work on it and make it healthier, I knew I did not want to use canned soup, so decided to make my own.  Here is my Tomato Soup recipe, and next week I’ll share my Ground Turkey Jamboree recipe.

Homemade Tomato Soup with Basil

Homemade Tomato Soup

  • 1 qt. Tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1/2 med. Onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk Celery, chopped
  • 1 med. Carrot, chpped
  • 1/4 lb. Mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

In medium saucepan, saute onion, celery, carrot and mushrooms in olive oil, with salt and pepper, until soft.  Add garlic and saute for just a few minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.  Add tomatoes and simmer covered for about 15 minutes then remove the lid and simmer uncovered 15-20 minutes.  I then used an immersion blender to blend the soup until it was smooth.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, you could (very carefully) pour the soup into your food processor of VitaMix and blend until smooth.  If the soup is too thin, you can continue to cook uncovered for a short while to thicken it.  I used my home canned tomatoes, but this would also be delicious with fresh tomatoes from your garden (I would peel them and it might take a little longer to cook to the right thickness) or you could use store bought canned tomatoes (probably about 3 regular sized cans would work just fine).

About the time I finished making the soup, a friend of mine came over with some fresh basil from her garden.  I removed the amount of soup I needed for my Jamboree and then chopped the basil (about 2 tbsp.) and added it to my soup, cooking it about another ten minutes to incorporate the basil.  I just thought it was delicious before the basil!

This recipe made about enough soup for 2 people, but it could easily be doubled or tripled to serve more.

What is your favorite homemade soup?