Every gardener knows the agony of having too many tomatoes come on at once. We can’t let those marvelous flavors go to waste! Can your extra tomatoes and later, when you open that jar, you still have those garden-fresh flavors as if the tomatoes were plucked off the vine only moments before opening!
My favorite recipe is for crushed tomatoes. It is simple, safe and can be used no matter what type of tomato you have. You don’t even need to wait until you have a certain quantity. Just figure that you will get about 1 pint of crushed tomatoes for every 1 – 1 ½ pounds of fruit. (It varies depending upon the variety). Use your canned, crushed tomatoes in stew, soup, pasta sauce and more. They will provide oodles of flavor, even in the dead of winter!Important Note: Tomatoes are a fruit and although most fruits have a high acid pH level, tomatoes do not. Their pH level can vary (depending upon the variety or the growing conditions) making them a borderline candidate for water bath canning. The solution to this problem is to acidify each jar by adding powdered citric acid (available where canning supplies are sold) or bottled lemon juice to each jar. Why bottled? A lemon can vary in pH just like a tomato and by using bottled juice you know exactly the acidity level of the juice.
• Clean pint-sized canning jars with two-part lids
• Water-bath canner
• Medium saucepan for blanching
• Stockpot for cooking the tomatoes
• Measuring spoons
• Knife and cutting board
• Bowl with Ice water
• Slotted spoon
• Potato masher
• Jar lifter or tongs
• Jar funnel for filling jars
• Wet paper towel
• Dry tea towel
• Plastic knife
• Tomatoes (any variety, but I prefer Roma)
• Citric Acid or bottled lemon juice
• Pickling Salt (optional)
If you have never canned before, please refer to my article on Water Bath Canning 101 for more detailed instructions on the water bath method.
Fill the canner with enough water for the level to be 2”over the jars (about ½ way). Place over high heat.
For this recipe you don’t have to sterilize jars because you will be processing longer than 10 minutes. But it is still important for the jars to be hot before filling. So place your jars in the canner while you heat the water. Also, heat the canning lids before using.
Fill the medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil.
Use a knife to cut an X in the bottom of each tomato and drop into the boiling water to blanch (in small batches) for about 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon to remove the blanched tomatoes into a bowl of ice water and peel. Discard the peels.
Place the peeled tomatoes in a stockpot to heat, crushing them with a potato masher to release the juices so they won’t scorch and bring to a simmer. Simmer 5 minutes.
When the tomatoes are done and the water in the canner is boiling, drain the hot jars and place on a wood board or tea towel. To each jar, add ¼ teaspoon of powdered citric acid OR 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice. For flavor, you can also add ½ teaspoon salt to each jar, if you wish.
Then, using a ladle and canning funnel, fill each jar with tomatoes and juice, leaving a ½-inch headspace. Use a plastic knife to release bubbles trapped in the jar by running it around and through the tomatoes (add more tomatoes or juice if the headspace level dropped) before wiping the jar edge clean with a damp paper towel and adding a heated lid.
Screw on the canning lid ring to just “finger tight” and put the jars back into the water bath canner. Bring the water in the canner back up to a boil. Once the water is boiling, set your timer for 35 minutes. (If you live above 1000 feet, you will need to adjust your processing time. Refer to the altitude chart HERE)
Turn off heat and let the jars sit in the water 5 minutes.
Remove jars from canner and set upright on a dry towel to cool.
Check seals after 12-24 hours. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used within 2 weeks. Sealed jars can be stored on the pantry shelf for up to one year.
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Theresa Loe is the Co-Executive Producer of Growing A Greener World. She is trained as a Master Food Preserver and is an expert in city homesteading, home preservation and educational gardens/gardening with children. She also blogs about homesteading at LivingHomegrown.com