Did somebody say Tomatoes…
It’s a wonderful time of year here at our Urban Farm… our tomatoes have come in, and they are deee-licious! However, they keep coming… and coming… and coming. Not that I’m complaining, but I find myself in the all too familiar gardener’s quandary of how to preserve, and I think honor, the fruits of one’s labor.
So, this weekend, I decided to can some of our excess tomatoes. Canning is a relatively straightforward process, much like freezing veggies. There are four basic steps – wash, blanch, prep, and process.
You can find the basic canning information on canning on many websites, and I won’t pretend to be an expert canner. Just know, there are two types of canning methods – water bath (WB) and pressure canning (PC). Water bath canning is utilized for high acid foods – pickles, jams & jellies, and some tomato preparations. Pressure canning is used for low acid foods – such as beans, corn, and most canning involving meat products. For your food safety, be sure to follow the canning method recommended by the recipe you are following. Also, note that altitude makes a difference! Here in Colorado, we need to add 10 minutes of processing time (3000-6000 ft) to either method of canning.
My experience of canning tomatoes was fun, tedious, rewarding, and exhausting. The washing and blanching was a breeze. For blanching, I cut an “x” in the bottom of the tomatoes, blanched for 60 seconds, placed the tomatoes in an ice bath, and the skins truly did just peel right off.
At this point, I was feeling pretty darn good!
Then, the prep got to me….. the coring of the tomatoes “got” to me….. it took seemingly forever…. I stopped and searched the internet for tips…. I folded a load of laundry… I even contemplated (briefly) running away from home. In the end, I decided I was being too fussy about the coring. You can use the tomatoes whole, halved, quartered, or chopped. With all these options, why stress?
OH! I did do one thing right – I put my cutting board in a cookie sheet with a lip - this kept tomato juice from running all over the counter….
Once I had the tomatoes cored and seeded, I hot-packed the tomatoes into pint jars, adding a tablespoon of lemon juice per pint to ensure an adequate acidity level for water bath canning. Forty minutes later, I had 5 lovely pints of canned tomato loveliness.
I guess my point is – don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone when it comes to your family and food…. Try freezing or canning…. Try a new fruit or veggie, that you don’t quite know what to do with…… Try that new recipe (although, if you are adding wine to a chicken dish – I suggest not using red wine…. Ask Farmer Brad about the “Purple Chicken” incident of ’03…. I’m telling ya, the man’s a Saint when it comes to my cooking!)