Friday, August 26, 2011


I am always so happy when my tomatoes start getting ripe!  It means that I can get started on the biggest crop my garden provides me with.

Yes.  There are cucumbers again too.  :)

We eat fresh the firstlings .... then we get to canning!  This small batch of tomatoes will only provide me with a few canners full. 

I got 16 quarts out of this sink full. 

In case you have never canned tomatoes before, I have taken pictures of the different steps to help you along.

You do not need to wash the tomatoes, I only rinse them, so the grass, leaves, petals and other pieces that are not attached get rinsed off.  You don't actually even need to do that.

Once your tomatoes are gathered up, you need to BLANCH them.  This is a process where you place the tomatoes in boiling hot water and then remove them to cold water so the skins will come off.

Typically the skins will start to split, and a small amount of pressure will cause them to 'slip' off.  Sometimes you need to use a knife to get it started, or to lift the skin from the flesh of the tomato and peel it.  You should never have to cut the skins off, except at the stem and if there are any blemishes you may have to cut right around the blemish.  If you are cutting more than that, you need to boil them just a little longer.

Once the tomatoes are blanched and peeled, you simply pack them in the jars following the wonderful instructions in your canning book.  The book I own is the Ball Blue Book of Preserving, but since it looks like that is an old version, I would simply recommend getting any Ball Blue Book at a reasonable price.  It is a wonderful quick reference.  It has just enough detail, not so little you are lost and not so much you are overwhelmed.  Great for beginners!

One last tip for blanching.  The temperature of the water, the time in the hot water and the ripeness of the tomato all play a part in the finished product.

The first tomato is very ripe.  The second tomato is barely ripe.  They were blanched at a lower temperature than the third barely ripe and the fourth very ripe tomato.  Can you see the texture difference?  The two on the left are very firm and the two on the right are almost mushy.  Both are good for canning, but the ones on the left will be prettier.

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