Friday, July 17, 2009

Canning Tomatoes

My canning does not always go well. In the case of canning tomatoes, it went horribly wrong. However, I feel that I should share with you my canning failures as well as my successes. I'll go quickly through the process. I hope you get something out of it, even if all you've learned is how easy tomatoes are to peel after a boiling water bath!

Boil water, drop the tomatoes in and boil for 30-60 seconds, until you see the skins start to crack. Not all of the tomatoes have to crack. I left my first few batches in way too long because I was under the impression that all of the tomato skins had to crack. They don't. Why is this? My best guess is that some tomato skins are firmer than others and it seemed that the firmer the tomato, the longer it took to crack.

Take the tomatoes out of the boiling water and place them immediately into an ice water bath to stop the cooking. This also cools down the tomatoes enough for you to handle. Even after a few minutes in here, the centers can still be scalding hot!

Core the tomato and the skins will slip right off! I was amazed at how this worked. I'll never again be afraid to skin a tomato!

I packed my tomatoes in their own juice. Add a teaspoon of canning salt and two tablespoons of lemon juice to each quart jar. (Really, tomatoes are acidic enough on their own. Lemon juice is added to help raise the acidity. Higher acidity helps to kill bacteria that grow once foods are preserved. So, adding lemon juice is just an extra precaution.)

The first batch, I packed the tomatoes in just until the juice filled the crevices between the tomatoes. I learned that this is not the right thing to do. Each jar should contain 2.5-3 lbs of tomatoes. This sounds like a lot, but after the skins come off, you can really pack them in there. I learned later from one of Travis's aunts an even better way: go ahead and chop up the tomatoes before you pack them in. You can get a lot more in there and chances are that you're going to need them chopped anyway for cooking, so go ahead and get it over with!

Put them in either a pressure cooker or water bath them. I chose to pressure cook because I could keep pressure constant much better than I could keep a constant gentle boil. Hindsight says that I should have tried harder at keeping the gentle boil!

Oh, they are so ugly! I had way too much airspace in both batches! I needed to do a much better job at removing all of the air bubbles before I processed them. My second batch never even settled down to the bottom of the jar. Just ugly!

We are going to try one jar just to see how the tomatoes turned out, but there's a very good chance that these will be dumped out.
Canning doesn't always go the way you hope or plan. I tried to can some okra last week that turned out worse than the tomatoes. It's so bad that I've already deleted the pictures and dumped out the jars. Yes, it was that bad! I won't give up, though. I'm going to try again next week after I get a couple of pickings of okra. I am going to tweak my methods, though. I think I might even try to pickle some okra...but we'll see how the cucumber pickles turn out first!

1 comment:

kajahns said...

We took the skin off the tomaotes every day at culinary school. It might be easier to cut the core out first before boiling them.