Home Canning Tomatoes the Right Way

When the bounty of summer hits, it is a great idea to start canning vegetable and other staples to provide fresh food throughout the winter months. One example of preserving food in this way is the process of canning tomatoes. Canning tomatoes is an age old way to keep your favorite varieties for a number of uses. Here, we will discuss how to can tomatoes, as well as different uses for them:

Selecting the Right Tomatoes to Can
It is important that you choose the right tomatoes to can. You may use either green (though don’t expect them to ripen) or fully-ripe tomatoes. Do not can tomatoes from vines that have been frozen out, or ones that are already dead. The results will not be pleasing. Carefully select tomatoes that show little signs of rot or blight. Some spots may be cut-out using a paring knife, though you want the best tomatoes you can find to process, especially if processing tomatoes whole or halved.

Preparation
Preparation for hot water bath canning and pressure cooker canning has some slight variations, but mostly it is the same. First, make sure that all jars are thoroughly washed and sanitized. Be sure you have enough jars, lids, bands, and tomatoes on-hand. Start with two pots of boiling water. The smaller will be used for jar lids. Slide the jar lids in the smaller pot of simmering water. The larger will be used for boiling tomatoes. Slit the tomato skins by creating a cross-shape on the bottom of each with a paring knife. Slide them into the boiling water, 3-4 at a time, depending on the size of the pot. Let them boil for 30-60 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon or basket, placing them in a cold water bath. Slide off the skins and remove the core. Use a paring knife to aid in sliding off skins, if needed. Around 5 whole tomatoes is enough to fill a jar.

Canning Tomatoes

Water Bath Method
Bring a large stockpot to boil, as well as another smaller pot of clean water. Pack jars after preparation, above, has been completed. Be sure to add around 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to every quart jar. You made add 1 teaspoon of salt to each jar, if desired. Add enough hot water from the boiling pot of clean water to cover the tomatoes, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Remove air pockets with a wooden spoon. Add more water, if needed. Wipe the rims. Carefully place one of the hot lids on top of the jar. Tighten a band down on the lid, though do not tighten too tightly. Use tongs or a jar lifter to transfer jars to large stockpot. Put lid on the stockpot, and let gently boil for around 45 minutes. Then, remove the jars to carefully cool. The lids should seal nicely. You are finished canning tomatoes!

Pressure Canning Method
Pressure CannerIf using a pressure canner, the process of packing is exactly the same as described above. In a dial-guage pressure canner, you will want to get jars up to a particular pressure and keep them there for a length of time, based upon altitude. For most altitude, the range is between 6-9 PSI for quarts and pints, and should be kept there from between 10-14 minutes, depending upon altitude. Reference your pressure canner manual, if unsure. For weight-gauged pressure canner, the time and weight also varies. It is normally either 5 or 10 pounds for 10 or 15 minutes. Again, check your pressure canner manual. The cooling process, here, is the same, as well. You’re done!

Numerous Uses for Canned Tomatoes
Canned tomatoes have many uses in the home throughout the seasons. They are especially good for using in sauces, salsas, dips, soups, chili’s, and stews. Use them in place of store-bought canned or crushed tomatoes in nearly any recipe. The taste will be better than store-bought in any recipe. Your family will thank you for delicious meals. You may also be protecting them from dangerous chemical additives found in store-bought canned tomatoes, and the salt content may be much lower.

Other Ideas (And Why Canning Tomatoes is Great)
You may also be able to can tomatoes indirectly by preparing them into various salsas, sauces, and juice blends before they are canned. Examples include tomato and vegetable juice blends (like V8), tomato juice, salsa, spaghetti sauce (with or without meat), and even hot sauce and ketchup. You can even prepare some soups (like vegetable) can home can them. These preparations can save on time and money, later. Canning tomatoes can save you time by helping you keep already made sauces, meals, and more on-hand. It can also save you time by eliminating trips to the store. Not only that, but it frees up some of your food budget in the winter for other, more important things.

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