Our nice heirloom tomatoes pooped out on us this summer due to the intense heat, so I had to supplement the tomato supply with some local farmers' tomatoes I bought. Following the instructions for tomatoes in Canning & Preserving with Ashley English, I prepared the jars and canning equipment and started on the recipe.
Canning tomatoes has a way of taking over all of the available space on your kitchen counter, plus using up all of your cutting boards and kitchen towels! Be prepared for your kitchen to get quite messy!
As a beginner, I had to read the instructions for the presser canner two or three different times to understand fully what I was doing. To make a big batch, you have to prepare them in small batches in order for your jars to fit in the canner together. Simply put, after sterilizing and heating the jars, place the heated jars on the counter. Fill each with the directed amount of pickling salt and lemon juice, then funnel the prepared tomatoes into jars, securing with the heated lids. Place the filled jars into the pressure canner filled with 2-3 inches of water, and then follow the instructions for pressure cooking. After the cooking is complete, let jars cool and prepare a new batch.
Although it makes for a lot of work, having a nice batch of canned tomatoes to last through the winter is well worth it! In addition to plain tomatoes, think about canning tomato sauce, spicy salsas, and roasted tomato and pepper chutneys. Having a good stock of tomatoes and sauces in your pantry makes it easy to prepare meals such as pasta dishes, soups and stews, pizzas, and even side dishes. I hope to try all of these soon plus try my hand at canning other vegetables such as green beans, pickled beets, okra, peas, roasted corn chutneys and relishes.
Have you been busily canning anything in your kitchen lately?