Canning Tomatoes

One of my goals last year was to learn how to can tomatoes. It's no secret that I have a love affair with them (specifically Romas) and for years I depended on my mom for my addiction because she cans a bajillion at a time. Every time I went to visit, I'd steal one or two (or more) jars and take them home with me. Well, that simply needed to stop. I'm a grown up that should be able to do this on my own, don't you think?

My mom was gracious enough to plant lots of tomato plants last spring so that's what I was originally going to go with. But then, I had quite a few dollars left in my CSA share so I bought two loads of tomatoes for $40. Sweet. That left me with QUITE a bit of canned tomatoes. (24 pints, 9 Pint and a halves and 16 Quarts). For most people, that'd be enough to last them for a LONG while, but you know me :) When I was pregnant with Jack, I had quite the tomato craving and went through every single one of the pints and most of the pint and a halves! No joke, I had the same tomato meal every day for quite awhile. I am happy to report, however, that I still have 9 quarts left!

I do plan to can some more this summer and here is the recipe I'll use:

Boiling-Water Canning (taken straight from BH&G's You Can Can)

Step One - Prepare the food
While you're the food to be canned, heat water in the canner. Fill the canner about halfway with water and position the rack. Set jars in the canner to sterilize.

A. Score the tomatoes - Make an X in the blossom end of each tomato with a small sharp knife.
B. Blanch - Heat a large kettle of water to boiling. Drop in the tomatoes to simmer for 1-2 minutes.
C. Cool and Peel - Immediately plunge the tomatoes into icy water to loosen the skins. The skins will slip off easily. Cut out the stem ends with a small,sharp knife.

Step Two - Fill the jars

A. Fill - Pack the jar as tightly as you can with the food without crushing it. Top with any hot liquid as specified in the recipe.
B. Remove air bubbles - Insert a special canning tool or a thin, flexible spatula down along the sides of the jar to remove any air bubbles. Measure headspace, adding or removing liquid as needed.
C. Wipe - Wipe rim and threads of jar with a clean, damp cloth to remove any residue that might interfere with the seal.
D. Put on lid - Set lid  on jar and screw on band no more that fingertip-tight, just tight enough that you could turn the band another 1/4 or 1/2 inch tighter. This is important for a proper seal.

Step Three - Process the jars
Submerging the jars in boiling water heats and sterilizes the food inside and is the first step in creating a sealed jar.

A. Place jars in canner  - As you fill each jar, set it back in the canner filled with simmering water.
B. Process jars - When all the jars filled, they should be covered with 1-2 inches of water. Add more boiling water if needed to achieve this. Start processing time from the moment water starts to boil. Keep at a low, rolling boil.
C. Remove jars - When the processing time is up, turn off heat and remove jars.

Step Four - Cool
Remove jars from canner and set on a wire rack or towel on the counter (cold, bare countertops can crack jars). Do not tighten bands. Allow to cool for 12-24 hours. After that time test the seal by firmly pressing your finger n the center of the lid. It should not give. If it makes a popping sound, it is not properly sealed. Store in the fridge and eat the food soon. Otherwise, store jars in a cool, dry place for up to one year.

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