Wednesday, July 4, 2012
While we were there, my daddio told me about how he used to help his mom (my Nonna) make sauce. She didn't go to the grocery store for cans of tomatoes - she used fresh tomatoes that she would peel and crush herself.
This story inspired me to try my hand at canning fresh tomatoes. To begin, I blanched the tomatoes in hot water and then put them in an ice bath.
This allows the skin of the tomato to be peeled off easily. One thing I don't like is all of the seeds in a tomato. To help with this, I simply gave the tomatoes a squeeze. The seeds (and, yes, some juice) came out of the tomato. I figure that tomatoes have so much juice that there is plenty to go around and if that will get rid of those nasty seeds then so be it!
Now, when I open a can of tomatoes for chili or stew, I don't like large chunks. To help with this, I cored the tomatoes and put them in my food processor. I used the pulse setting to crush them up a little.
Before beginning this process, I did my research. I came across an article that stated that crushing your tomatoes before canning them will make them separate after processing. This means that the tomatoes will float to the top and there will be a layer of water. Doesn't bother me and it means I won't have large chunks of tomatoes in my chili/sauce!
Next, I ladled the tomatoes into HOT jars. To heat the jars, I placed them in a large pot of boiling water. This sterilizes the jars and makes sure that the jars won't break when processing.
To each jar I added a dash of lemon juice and a teaspoon of canning salt.
Yes, I know mom, that is too much salt..................that is what she will say to me when she sees this picture! I am a saltaholic! The salt is not necessary, I just think it enhances the taste. If you would rather leave it out, go ahead.
After this, wipe off the rims and place the lids on the jars. Process the tomatoes for 45 minutes. While doing my research, I came across several different processing times. I opted for 45 minutes because that was the average.
After you remove the tomatoes, allow them to cool. As the jars cool, you will hear a popping sound. This means that the jars have sealed shut. Once the jars have cooled, press of the lid to make sure it doesn't give. If it is firm the jars have sealed shut. If is goes up and down when you press it, you will need to refrigerate that jar and use it first!