tomatoes!

Homegrown tomatoes were a rarity in my life for the longest time. Grocery store ones are a disgrace compared to one fresh from the vine. They should just pack it up and go home. They’re not even worth it. Total waste of space. I could keep trash talking grocery tomatoes but I think you get the general idea of my feelings about them. In fact, because of them I did not really ever enjoy plain old tomatoes. I wouldn’t eat them sliced up raw, just mixed with other things to give them flavor. Then I ate a freshly picked tomato and promptly died. So we picked up A LOT of them (not the bushels they were selling though now I wish I had just purchased the whole basket) in Utah and yesterday I tried my hand at canning them for the first time ever. They look beautiful in their jars and I will report back how they taste when I have an opportunity to use them later.

Canned Tomato Chunks 
recipe from Put ’em Up!: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook, from Drying and Freezing to Canning and Pickling by Sherri Brooks Vinton 

You Need:

tomatoes, a lot of them (recipe says 3 lbs)
2 Tablespoons of lemon juice (alternately you can use the jars of citric acid they sell for home canning tomatoes – that’s what we ended up using and the directions say to use 1/4 teaspoon per pint of tomatoes)
1 teaspoon salt (we used plain kosher)

Wash the jars you intend to fill with hot soapy water, then place in your canning pot full of water. Let them simmer in hot water and sit there until you’re ready to fill them. Place your lids in a small pan, cover with water, and let it simmer.

Note: we tried for the first time our Tattler reusable lids. Jury’s still out on how well they work (I haven’t tried to eat our tomatoes yet, remember, but the only bad thing I can say about them is there’s no tell tale “pop” and you have to tell by feel if your jars are sealed. So if you’re a novice canner, I wouldn’t use these.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a low boil. While that’s happening, ready a large container (bowl or whatever) with ice water. Drop your tomatoes whole into the boiling water, do like 5-6 at a time depending on how large they are, and boil for 30-60 seconds. Remove them with a slotted spoon or spider and drop them into the ice water immediately. When they’re cool enough to handle, slip the skins from them and place them in another bowl. Chop them on a large board that has grooves to catch the juices (there will be much juicing!). Place them in a bowl and mix with the lemon juice and salt and mix together, if you’re not using the citric acid. Fill your hot, sterilized jars with tomato chunks (leaving 1/2 inch headspace). If you’re using citric acid, add in your 1/4 teaspoon per pint and add 1/4 teaspoon or so of salt per jar now. Use a spoon and gently press on the tomatoes (mix with the salt and citric acid at this point). This removes air bubbles and presses out the tomatoes juices which will fill your jars. When that’s done, place your hot lids on the jars, screw on your rings (not too tightly please), then place the jars in the canning pot. Cover and let them process in boiling water for 15-20 minutes. When you remove them, let them sit for a bit and listen for that pop that tells you the jar is sealed. If they don’t pop, press down on top of your lid. If they are sucked in and don’t pop in and out, they’re sealed. If they’re not sealed, put them back in the pot and continue processing until they do.

tomatoes before (some of them)

tomatoes after!

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