This is the second year I've made canned tomatoes using hot water bath canning. Tomatoes are a little scary to can because they are right on the border of what can be safely canned because they have a moderate Ph level (even though they are highly acidic). Anyway, I did a TON of research (because tomato related deaths aren't cool kids! hehe
). Here's a little mini tutorial:
First, read Eugenia Bone's "Well-Preserved"! She has beautiful step by step instructions on how to can safely and easily.
I had about 30 lbs of tomatoes. You can mix varieties, but there are a few varieties that have too low a Ph to use in canning according to the Minnesota extension office:
Ace, Ace 55VF, Beefmaster Hybrid, Big Early Hybrid, Big Girl, Big Set, Burpee VF Hybrid, Cal Ace, Delicious, Fireball, Garden State, Royal Chico, and San Marzano.
They said most of these varieties are used commercially, but as a general rule, I stick with either plum, roma, beefsteak, or heirloom varieties because I know what their Ph is going to be. The extension office also mentioned that sweeter varieties don't necessarily have a lower Ph, just a lower acidic level. Also, underripe tomatoes have more PH that ripe ones.. I always throw in a few underripe tomatoes to be safe, and I never use waaaay ripe tomatoes.
Ok, some of the tomatoes (I picked Roma and Plum after this):
Along with some other produce from my garden (I'm making pickled peppers today!):
So what you'll need to make canned tomatoes:
20-30 lbs of tomatoes (Just as a frame of reference, mine filled a large collander and a large mixing bowl.. it felt like 30 lbs, that's my guess
Citric Acid (not Fruit Fresh... ask around, you're looking for pure Citric acid. I found mine at the regular grocery store, but it was in with trash bags??? weird)
Canning Salt (the regular salt has iodine which can cloud or discolor canned stuff. The salt in this case is a flavor agent, not a preservative, so you can also leave it out. I personally feel just a little safer putting it in hehe
4 quart jars or 8 pint jars with new lids and rings (you can reuse canning rings, but NEVER the actual lid!)
A hot water bath canner or a BIG ASS POT! The canner is easier, it's got that little basket thing that keeps your jars from clanking against each other and the bottom of the pan.
What you do:
1. Blanche all of the tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds to crack the skins.
2. Remove the skins, cores, and any spots or blemishes on the tomatoes and dice them.
3. Crush the tomatoes with your fingers and bring the tomatoes to a boil in their own juices (watch for scorching) in a stainless or enameled pan and let them simmer.
4. Supposedly if you're going to hot water bath can something for a long time, you don't have to sterilize the jars... but I'm paranoid and it's not that hard, so boil your jars and rings for 10 minutes. Put lids in a smaller pan and allow to simmer (you don't want to boil these because the rubber will melt.. just get them hot).
5. Use a potato masher or stick blender to get a few of the chunks out of the tomatoes.
6. Using a jar grabber (you need one.. trust me, I have a scar on my arm from the burn I got trying to do this step with metal tongs), carefully lift the jars out of the water and drain them. Once they are on a towel or the counter, add the citric acid and salt to each jar (1/4 teas. citric acid and a teas. of salt for pints and a 1/2 teas. citric acid and 2 teas. salt for quarts). I added mounding 1/2 teaspoons.. again the paranoia hehe
7. Using a wide mouthed funnel (the only other thing I really recommend you get for this.. it makes your life WAY easier), fill the jars, leaving about a 1/2 an inch at the top of the jars (it's called the headspace and keeps your jars from blowing up in the canner). Basically, I filled my jars to where the thread starts at the top of the jar.
8. Put on the lids, and screw on the rings to finger tight (which means you can only use your fingers to tighten it, not the palm of your hand). If you tighten the ring too much, again with the blowing up of jars in the canner
. Just get it snug, it'll be fine.
9. Put the jars into the canner at rolling screaming bat out of hell boiling. You want the water to completely cover the jars by a couple of inches the entire time it's processing. Let pints boil for 45 minutes and quarts for 50 (or 55 which is what I did... paranoid). Refill the water as needed, but remember, any time the canner isn't boiling, that doesn't count toward your time. I add a little water at a time so it never stops boiling.
10. after the time is up, turn off the canner and let the jars sit in the hot water for 5 minutes more. Remove them from the canner, and let them sit on the counter undisturbed for 12 hours (yeah, one more way the jars could blow up...). After that, check all your seals and make sure the lids have sucked in toward the jar (so indented).. you usually hear happy little pops for an hour after they're out of the canner
Now you have beautiful canned tomatoes that will keep for a year!
Some tomatoes separate after you can them.. It's fine, they are still safe, it's just the fluid from the tomatoes separating from the pulp.
Anyway, that's what I did last night.. really, it isn't as dangerous as it all sounds... I used jars from the 50's last night, and they didn't blow up or anything
Let me know if anybody has questions, thanks for looking!