14 September 2011

canning week: tomatoes

canned tomatoes 

ahh, tomatoes. the golden child of canning [is that true? did i just make that up? oh well].  i started canning tomatoes in 2009 when i decided that i needed to can something other than jam.  something that we would actually eat.  i mean, we eat jam, but not that much jam.  for the past few years, i've canned tomatoes two ways: crushed and a thin sauce.  while i did both of those this year, i branched out a bit, adding whole peeled tomatoes, tomato jam, and tomato salsa to the repertoire.  i have to admit that next year, i'm definitely bagging the thin sauce, and possibly even the crushed tomatoes, and just doing all the plain tomatoes whole.  when i open the jars later on, i can just crush or puree them then, right?  we'll see...  the grand total of tomatoes that i canned this year was: 5-4 oz. jars of tomato jam, 6 pints salsa, 10 quarts whole peeled tomatoes [3 are with my own tomatoes!], 8 quarts and 1 pint crushed tomatoes, and 5 quarts thin tomato sauce.  i used one and a half bushels of tomatoes from the farmers market, plus some of my own. 

if you're new to canning [or not] and you haven't checked out food in jars yet, go do it right now.  seriously, i'll still be here when you get back [just, don't get too distracted over there, i'll get lonely].  marisa has a great post here where she addresses a lot of issues regarding canning tomatoes.  word is, she's putting together another one soon, so keep an eye out if you're planning on canning tomatoes soon. 

what i really want to talk about today is the tomato jam.  i made this on a whim back in mid-august.  i had taken the day off of work to get ready for our california trip and found myself with a few pounds of delicious cherokee purple and ace bush tomatoes from my garden.  not wanting to risk that they would still be good in a week upon our return, and not really wanting to part with them [it was early tomato season and i was savoring each and every one], i searched for a way to preserve them and came across this recipe.  i was a little wary, thinking that it might be weird, and wondering if this was really something i would eat [see above re: jam].  but let me tell you that this is more delicious than i could possibly have imagined.  on toast, crackers, with cheese. you name it. this tomato jam's got it covered.  i kid you not.

heirloom tomato and thyme jam
[adapted from the cosmic cowgirl]

2 pounds heirloom or homegrown tomatoes, chopped.
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
8 whole cloves
2 sticks cinnamon
4 tsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp bottled lemon or lime juice

wash and sterilize five 4 oz. jars according to manufacturer's instructions.  put spices in a tea ball or cheesecloth.  combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer for 45 minutes, until it has reached a good jam consistency.  remove spice bag and ladle jam into the jars and process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes. 

endnote: just in case any of you thought i was some kind of expert or something.  tonight, as i was canning dilly green beans and pickled peppers, something happened that i've been fearing for the last four years: a jar broke while processing in the canner.  i heard a knock and thought one jar had just tipped over in there, when i lifted the lid there were peppers floating everywhere.  needless to say, the other jars have been reprocessed and everything is fine.  not that i've ever claimed to be an expert, but i don't want to give false impressions here! everyone has "disasters"!


  1. i, too, have busted a jar of pickles. sad but that's life! also, i will forever use the phrase, "tomatoes, the golden child of canning!" you are awesome!

  2. damn that sounds good. i'm making note of this, and all your helpful links, for next year. expect there to be a lot of emails around that time :)

  3. I just had tomato jam for the first time in Portugal, where it was served at breakfast, and if there weren't airline security rules, I would have smuggled vast quantities of it home. It's not weird at all! I've been dreaming about it draped over a log of goat cheese for going on two weeks now.