Sunday, August 17

Canning Tomatoes

Easy Home Canned Tomatoes
Tomatoes are one of the first things I canned well over 20 some years ago as a beginner canner.  I read it was one of the easiest things to learn as a newbie canner and they were right.

There is nothing better than a fresh tomato straight off the vine, but I think the second best thing is a jar of home canned tomatoes in the middle of winter!

I use canned tomatoes in chili, spaghetti sauce, soups and casseroles and many different recipes.  If I run out, I also make salsa or tomato juice from the tomatoes I canned. 

I can so I can preserve my garden harvest but also because I can control what's in my food.  I grew it and I grow organic. I know what's in each and every jar. 

Canning is the process in which foods are placed in jars and heated to a temperature that destroys microorganisms and inactivates enzymes. This heating and later cooling forms a vacuum seal. The vacuum seal prevents other microorganisms from recontaminating the food within the jar.

Tomato History
The tomato is actually botanically considered a fruit, but in the USA it’s classified as a vegetable.  Tomatoes are in the nightshade family, and long ago were erroneously thought to be poisonous by Europeans.  In fact, the plant and raw fruit do have low levels of tomatine, but are not generally dangerous.  Tomatine is a toxic glycoalkaloid found in the stems and leaves of tomato plants, which has fungicidal properties.
Until looking up the history of tomatoes for this post I didn't know about the tomatine or glycoalkaloid in tomatoes. 
I have always had really itchy skin after rubbing or touching a tomato plant stem or their leaves so I usually wear long pants and a long sleeve shirt when picking tomatoes in my garden. Now I know why I itch so badly.   Most people however, have no reaction at all.

The tomato species originated in the South American Andes and its use as a food originated in Mexico, then spread throughout the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas.

Garden Fresh Tomatoes

Canning Methods
It’s important to know your food’s pH level. The food you are going to can is either high-acid pH level or a low-acid pH level.
For an example, tomatoes, a high acid food, fall in a pH level between 4 - 4.6. Some modern tomato varieties are a little less acidic, so the USDA recommends adding extra acid in the form of lemon juice or citric acid as part of safe canning guidelines for tomatoes.
Low-acid foods include many vegetables, soups, stews, red meat, poultry and seafood.
Only use proven processing methods:  boiling-water canner or pressure canner.
I would also recommend purchasing a copy of the “Ball Blue Book” or Ball’s “Complete Book Of Home Canning”, both of which include proven canning recipes and steps.

Canning Safety Tips
  • Always make sure everything clean and sterile, I can’t stress this enough. 
  • Always use fresh, quality food.
  • Keep hot items hot when called for in a recipe
  • Always use the right canning method called for.  I can’t stress this enough either.
  • Use the exact processing time called for in the recipe.
  • When Pressure Canning always use the correct pressure.
  • Allow jars to cool and do not disturb for 24 hours.  Once cool, wipe jars clean.
  • Date and label contents of all jars.
  • Make sure to check all seals before storing in a cool dark place.
  • It is best to not stack jars on top of each other.  Stacking may give a false seal due to weight of jar on top.
Things You’ll Need:
 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 lb ripe tomatoes (about 8 to 11 medium) per quart
Citric Acid or bottled lemon juice
Salt, optional
Funnel, bubble stick, measuring spoons, bowls, etc.
Quart jars with lids and bands
A Water Bath Canner
Wash and Sterilize Canning Jars
How To Can Tomatoes:
Wash and sterilize canning jars.
I always boil my canning jars even after washing in the dishwasher.  To pre-sterilize jars, place the clean jars right-side-up on a rack in the canner and fill the jars and canner with water to 1-inch above the tops of the jars.  Boil for approximately 10 minutes, reduce heat and keep jars hot until ready to can.
And by boiling the jars in the canner, the canner will be ready to use, killing two birds with one stone. 
Heat lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil.

Wash and Core Tomatoes

Wash tomatoes, remove stem and core end.
Dip tomatoes in boiling water 30 to 60 seconds. This will loosen the skins.  Immediately dip tomatoes in cold water.
Peel Tomatoes
Slip or peel off the tomato skins.
Trim away any blemishes or green areas. Leave tomatoes whole or cut into halves or quarters.

Fill Jars With Tomatoes

Fill Jars With Tomatoes

Pack tomatoes in hot jars leaving 1/2 inch head space.
Add ½ teaspoon citric acid or 2 tablespoon bottled lemon juice to each hot quart jar.
(Add ¼ teaspoon citric acid or 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice to each hot pint jar).

Add Lemon Juice

Or Use Citric Acid 

Add 1 teaspoon salt to each quart jar, (1/2 teaspoon to each pint jar) if desired.

Add Salt (optional)

Remove air bubbles.
Remove Air Bubbles

Wipe jar rim. Anything left on the jar rim could prevent a good seal.  I use white hand towels to protect my counter tops and white wash rags for wiping the jar rims because I can bleach them when washing, making them a little more sterile in my opinion.

Wipe Rim

Place 2 piece hot lid on jar and adjust until fit is fingertip tight, meaning screw on until you meet resistance.  Lids should be slightly screwed on but not tight.

Apply The Two Piece Lid

Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 45 minutes for quarts (40 minutes for pints) adjusting for altitude.  Water should cover the jars and lid should be on during boiling process.

Place Filled Jars In Water Bath Canner

Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.  Tomatoes will separate from the liquid during the canning process.  Just wait until the jars are completely cool (at least 24 hours) then gently turn or shake the jar to remix.

Let Hot Jars Cool Undisturbed

As my garden winds down I am planting a few things for a fall crop.  Canning is taking up a lot of my time this time of year, but we will reap the rewards of all this preserving work come winter.  
Have a wonderful end of summer,


Ready For The Pantry

More Canning Information:

Check your local Cooperative Extension Office for local canning classes. 

Simply Canning and  Fresh Preserving and National Center For Home Food Preservation are great websites with a lot of canning information.

Other Canning Recipes

Canning Green Beans

Homemade Chicken Stock

Easy Raspberry Freezer Jam

My Messy Work Area, Yikes!!


Anonymous said...

With the step by step directions I feel I can do this, thanks for posting. I want to start canning and needed to see it done to feel more able to tackle the task. I am bookmarking your blog, thanks again! Susan

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

I am usually the same way, I need to have a visual and I can do just about anything. Thanks for stopping by my blog and glad this helps. Congrats on starting to can, you will love it!!

Anonymous said...

Your photos are a very pretty part of the blog content. I just stumbled upon your web site and I enjoyed reading many of your blog posts. Anyway I'll be subscribing to your blog !

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Glad you found my blog and thanks for the compliment! Stop back often!

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see where you store all your canned goods! Betty

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

I think there is a photo or two under "Easy Shelves You Can Bulid Yourself" or "Building a Wine Rack." When I get time I hope to add a page about me and my family so will add a few more photos then.

Anonymous said...

I have the Ball Book but your directions and photos make it a whoke lot easier. Can't wait to get started! Lisa