It's Canning Time


Acorn and ThistleI spent most of this weekend canning tomatoes for the winter. I popped by my local farm store on Saturday to see what they had available; the weather forecast was calling for rain for pretty much the entire long weekend – perfect for canning! Lucky for me, they had two crates of tomatoes: one Roma, and one mixed heirlooms. Hooray! I texted my mom and sister from the parking lot, and we set up plans for a canning marathon on Sunday.


Because the heirloom tomatoes have a high water content, I opted to start roasting them as soon as I got home so that they’d be ready by morning. I cut them up into evenly sized chunks, and without any seasoning or oil, roasted them on a sheet pan for about an hour a batch, at 250 F. I propped the oven door open a crack, just to make sure all that steam was able to escape. Once the hour had passed, I moved them from the oven to my slow cooker. Once that was full, I began filling a second pot on my stove. Twenty-five pounds of heirlooms later, I had 12 quarts simmering happily away.

I can’t even begin to tell you how good my house smelled, by then. Delish!

I left the slow cooker to simmer overnight, but I needed to turn off the one on our stove. We have an older electric range, and even on low, it runs hotter than I’d like. There’s no way I could trust it not to burn the sauce, if I left it unattended overnight. No worries, though – in the morning, the slow cooker had cooked down quite a bit, so it evened out in the end.

I ran both pots of sauce through my food mill to remove the seeds and skins. I prefer doing it this way, over peeling, coring and seeding the tomatoes up front, because I feel like I’m retaining more flavor in the long run. It’s totally a personal preference, though. Once everything was milled, the sauce went back over heat to cook down a little more, and the seeds and skins went into the dehydrator.

9/4/2014 6:21:36 PM

Laura, when you can by water bath method, do you cover the jars with water and then maintain that level while they can?

9/3/2014 8:07:34 AM

Laura, my tomato harvest wasn't much this year and barely kept me supplied with fresh tomatoes for the table. We had very unseasonably cool weather all summer. It made for great living but lousy for growing tomatoes. Luckily I have enough preserved from last year to make at least half way through this winter. It doesn't take much since basically I'm the only one that eats tomatoes any other way than in pizza sauce. ***** I've given up even trying to eat store bought tomatoes. Peaches are even worse. Since when did peaches not have fuzz or soft and juicy? Not a single drop of flavor in any of the new store peaches. I just can't believe that folks buy them and think their a great peach. ***** Have a great tomato preserving day.

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