The first five quarts of tomatoes have been canned for 2014.
Prior to starting, wash 5 quart jars and locate the 5 screw caps and 5 new lids.
1. Drop whole tomatoes into boiling water for about 30 seconds, then remove and drop in a large bowl of ice water. Repeat this step until the bowl with ice water can hold no more.
2. Remove a tomato from the cold water, hold over a large, clean bowl, then cut the tomatoes at the top, then the tomato skins should peel off very easily. Drop the peeled tomatoes into a clean bowl. Then, cut the tomatoes into quarters. [see 3 bowls pictured above.]
====NOTE: Roma tomatoes do not need to be cut further, but most other tomatoes often have multiple chambers and should be cut to expose as much of the tomato as possible to the preservative.
3. Continue to peel and then cut tomatoes until just over 5 quarts of tomatoes are ready for canning. We have a bowl that holds 5 quarts of tomatoes when full (picture to left).
4. Prepare the lids in boiling water. Leave lids in the water until ready to place on the tomato-filled jars.
5. Place preservative in the jars. (We use 1 tablespoon of lemon juice plus 1 teaspoon of salt for each quart—use half of each amount for pints.) Add about an inch of tomato juice to dissolve the salt and lemon juice.
6. Add tomatoes (use a slotted spoon to reduce the amount of juice added with the tomatoes). Reduce air in the jars by pressing on the tomatoes to pack them as you go, and then use a small spatula to drag on the sides of the jars and remove any visible air pockets.
7. Fill the jars to about 1/2 inch below the bottom of the threads on the jar.
8. Wipe the jar tops with a paper towel to remove moisture, then place the rubber side of the boiled lid on the jar and use a screw cap to tighten the lid onto the jar.
9. Fill the boiling pot to about 1/2 full, then add a cake cooling rack (screen shown above). The screen helps keep bubbles from causing jars to tumble in the pot.
(—-NOTE: We use a cake cooling rack rather than a canning rack. We haven’t lost any jars during heating since we discovered this trick —-)
10. Place the filled jars into a pot of room temperature water and fill to just below the tops of the lids. Add heat and watch until the water boils, then turn it down to medium high and allow slow boiling for about 1 hour until the liquid at the bottom of the jars is clear.
11. Remove and allow to cool. When lids make a snapping noise, the process is complete. Cool to room temperature then store.
NOTE: Tomatoes stop producing above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (pollination stops completely). As the temperature increases, tomato size falls, so more are needed per jar.
Once you’ve experienced the rich flavors of canned garden tomatoes, it’s really hard to go back to the store-bought cans! Canning is a LOT of work, but well worth the effort!