17 November 2009

canning tomatoes, a few months ago

Even though this is about two months behind schedule, I still wanted to share with you about my tomato sauce. In keeping with my effort this summer to preserve food that we would actually eat, as opposed to just jams that served primarily for gift-giving, I was determined to preserve tomatoes. The fact that canning tomatoes don't require a pressure canner also helped this determination (man, I need to get a pressure canner for next year). Back in mid-September, I bought a bushel of "canning tomatoes" from one of my favorite vendors at our local farmers market.

I had read a lot of mixed writings about whether or not it was safe to add any vegetables (even garlic) to tomato sauce that was to be canned in a boiling water bath (and not using a pressure canner). Not feeling confident, I decided to just go with totally plain tomato sauce, with just a little bit of lemon juice and salt added (to add acidity and then balance it out, respectively). I figured that I would be warming up the tomato sauce anyways when I take it out and prepare it, so it wouldn't be too big of a deal to add some browned garlic and other herbs or vegetables.

For next year, I'll have to look into more canning recipes. And if any of you have any knowledge or suggestions on this, please do share it in the comments section! I used the food mill that I inherited from my grandma to puree the sauce and just poured it into the sterilized jars as is. I ended up with about six and a half quarts of sauce.

In addition to the sauce, I also canned five quarts of plain crushed tomatoes. I figure I will use these for soups or stews or other recipes. Or, I could always make some tomato sauce with this as well. To be honest, I'm blanking a little bit on my process for this. But I'm pretty sure that I followed the instructions for "Cut Up Plain Tomatoes" from Putting Food By. The instructions are just to wash and peel the tomatoes, cut into quarters, bring to a boil in a pot and then simmer for about five minutes before packing into sterilized jars.

I'm really excited about having these tomatoes in my little pantry in the basement (I have a pantry!). And I even used one quart of tomato sauce this past weekend to make lasagne! It was so exciting to use this, along with one of the bags of spinach that I'd frozen earlier in the summer, in my cooking. To be honest, I'm already worried that what I've preserved won't last me a year, but hey, that's okay. This is all a learning process for me, right?


  1. Nice work! I wish I still had time to do tomatoes. The year I lived on the farm, my husband (then boyfriend) came up on labor day weekend and we did 100 qts.! This year we just slow roasted a bunch and layered them in jars with olive oil, garlic and herbs to keep in the fridge. They are amazing but they won't last all year either.

  2. I was really hoping I would be able to can tomatoes this year, but the blight changed my plans.

  3. i've frozen & preserved quite a bit for this year, but i, too, do not think it will all last.

    also, i made a lot of salsa this summer & i added plenty of different vegetables. i do not know if it makes a difference when using tomatoes for tomato sauce or tomatoes for salsa, but mine turned out great & i didn't use a pressure cooker!

    great work!! your jars look beautiful :)

  4. Julia, my parents use the oven the can their tomatoes. No water bath needed...I can get their recipe if you're interested. On the other hand, we bought a pressure cooker off craigslist that had been used only once- it's huge, made for canning, and when we drag it out canning is super quick!