Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I love the night life...not really...

The tomato pic from the last post produced 28 quarts of crushed tomatoes.  Problem is, those 28 quarts had me up until 5 a.m.!  What. The. Heck.

I did get a late start, and it does take quite a while to wash, quarter, grind, heat, and can all of that tomatoey goodness.

I don't necessarily have to quarter the tomatoes.  In fact, I just cut most of them in half, just to be sure they are good inside.  One bad tomato can wreck an entire batch of sauce.  I have a Roma food mill, pictured in the previous post, which saves me a lot of time.  I no longer have to skin the tomatoes, or cook them before crushing.  I do, however, heat the crushed tomatoes before packing into hot jars.

I use the water bath method, which takes 45 minutes to process a batch of quart jars, not including the time it takes to heat (at least 10 minutes if water is already hot) and fill (about 10 minutes) the jars.  Add in the five minutes after processing before removing from the canner, and you are looking at over an hour per batch, minimum.

It's certainly worth it, on the cold winter days, when I can pop open our homegrown tomatoes and make a hearty stew...or sauce...or just tomato soup.  Not that I was convinced of that this morning, when I had to get up at 7 a.m., after only two hours of sleep.

If you have never attempted canning, don't let my late nights scare you.  Like I said, I get a late start, and there are generally at least 40,175 interruptions that require my immediate attention, like Little Sis insisting I come look at the dead thing she found, chasing the geese that don't want to go into their pen at night, etc.

I recommend Ball's Complete Book of Home Preserving. It won't help you pen those pesky geese, but will help you can one tasty tomato sauce.


Kevin said...

Ok... color me stupid. Could you go a bit more into detail on how to get the crushed tomatoes. I'm familiar with caning, so I'm just interested in what all it takes to get it to that point. I use a LOT of store bought caned crushed tomatoes and it would be great to make my own.

Country Wife said...

If you don't have a food mill and have to do crushed tomatoes the hard way, here's a link that may help:

Actually, it's not really hard, just tedious and messy to peel each tomato.

If you plan to do a LOT of tomato canning, the Roma Food Mill is well worth the investment. I'll try to do a post this week showing how it works.

Once I run tomatoes through the mill (I use the salsa screen because I don't mind the seeds and I like the tomatoes a bit thick and chunky), I bring them to a boil for ten minutes. For each quart jar, put in 2 Tablespoons concentrated lemon juice and 1 tsp canning/pickling salt (salt is optional) before adding hot tomatoes. Use 1 Tbs lemon juice and 1/2 tsp salt for pint jars. Ladle hot tomatoes into hot jars and process for 45 minutes for quarts and 35 for pints.