July 28, 2012

Canning whole tomatoes was easier than expected.

4o lbs of Tomatoes = $35 because some were considered seconds.

7 Quarts of Whole Tomatoes
4 Quarts of Sliced/Diced Tomatoes
A Dozen bags of Frozen Tomato Juice

It was a joy to have Megan Schell Burcham join me in the kitchen.  We had a great time canning whole tomatoes and I got a blog post out of it.  I purchased 40 pounds of tomatoes at the Farmer’s Market and paid $35 because some were considered “Seconds”.  But I thought they were all perfect.

Much to my surprise, canning whole tomatoes wasn’t difficult, I just hate blanching the darned things. We cold-packed them into hot and sterile jars, added 1t sea salt and 2T of lemon juice. But once the jars came out of the water, they were beautiful. The individual and unique characteristics of the tomato really does shine through. I may have to add whole tomatoes to my pantry list. As expected, 20 lbs of tomatoes produced 7 quarts of finished product.

After Megan left, we decided to take a break and head out to our boat. It was a hot, but beautiful day. We splashed around and had a blast enjoying Kentucky Lake, which is just a mere 15 minutes away. At sunset, we headed home and I decided to tackle the last of the tomatoes I bought that morning.

I sliced and diced my way through the other 20 lbs, thinking that it would only take a couple of hours to complete from start to finish. I suspected that my supply of quart jars was running low, I just didn’t realize how low. I didn’t have any at all! I don’t keep a lot of quart jars on hand because I  prefer wide-mouth pint jars because they hold the right portion for our family. The only thing I put in quart jars are sliced/diced tomatoes and tomato juice. I checked to see if I had enough pint jars and didn’t.

Convinced that there were more jars somewhere in this house, I began searching for wide-mouth jars. Finally, I discovered a dozen of them. Unfortunately, they were the jars that we used in fall decorating last fall and were full of melted candle wax– what a mess. So I grabbed a knife and started chopping at the melted candle wax being careful not to hurt or fracture the jars. Vince walked through the kitchen and must have felt sorry for me. Because he grabbed a long screwdriver and joined me in the task. We only tackled six jars and left the rest for another time. Besides, it was all I needed and it was getting late. I could finish canning the tomatoes.

After a quick sterilization in the dishwasher, I cold-packed the jars adding the necessary 1t sea salt and 2T lemon juice. Once again, I stuffed and I stuffed and I stuffed the jars with the sliced tomatoes, pulling off the juice that would rise to the top of the jar. I achieved 5 quarts of tomatoes and 5 cups of tomato juice that I froze in freezer-safe snack bags. At midnight, I put the jars in their hot water bath. At last!!!

Forty minutes later when I took the lid off the canner, I was greeted by four perfect jars and the surface of the water covered with bits of tomato. One broken jar was resting on its side. Crap. I must have fractured one of the jars while removing the candle wax. It was the first time I had a jar to explode in the canner. I pulled out the perfect jars to cool and left the mess to deal the next morning. I was too tired to deal with then.

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