I am not wholly convinced that the plastic that lines tomato cans will kill me, but why take chances when I like canning? We did two rounds of tomato canning. We canned Brandywine and other heirloom varieties in round one. We canned standard non-heirloom tomatoes in round two. Below I will summarize how we did it.
Here’s what we used
Lemon juice (for the citric acid)
Very hot water
Crushed garlic cloves
Like my peach canning blog, I will break this blog up into 4 functional groups. Bear in mind that at any given point in the canning process we probably had jars in all functional states.
Sanitizing the Jars
The first step in the process is making sure your jars are sanitary and ready for fruit. In our past jamming sessions we let the jars boil in water for several minutes to kill the microscopic critters. After some internet searching, we found that you can also put the glass jars in the oven for 20 minutes at 250 degrees. We used the oven technique for our tomato jars, partially because the jars a bigger would be more difficult to manage in a pot of boiling water. This also freed-up an all-important heating element on the stove. We sanitized our rings and lids in boiling water.
Processing the Tomatoes
To skin the tomatoes, we dropped them in boiling water for about 2 minutes. Then we put them in an ice bath for a minute. This allowed easy removal of the skins. This was probably the most laborious part of the process. Our tomatoes were a little large, so we quartered them to enable us to fit them in the jars.
Assembling the Jars
We put the desired herbs and spices in the jars. Then we packed the tomatoes in. We topped all the jars with one teaspoon of salt and two tablespoons of lemon juice. Then will filled the jars with boiling water leaving about a half inch breathing room at the top of each jar. We made three different varieties. We packed some with curry spices (these spices were a combo of mustard seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and such that had been bloomed). We packed some with rosemary and garlic. We packed some with thyme, oregano, and garlic. We were thinking that the oregano and thyme variety would be well used in pasta sauces. The rosemary variety would be a great base for a tomato soups. They curry will be used for curry, of course.
Sealing the Jars
We put the jars in boiling water for 45 minutes. All the jars sealed perfectly.
A Word about Heirloom vs Plum vs Standard Tomatoes
Since we canned a few varieties, I thought I would comment on the differences between them. The standard and Plum tomatoes skinned the easiest. They were a breeze. The heirlooms were more difficult to skin and were generally more delicate to handle. They were also considerably more expensive. Unless I taste heaven in those heirloom jars when I crack them open, I won’t be canning those again. The heirlooms were about 40 bucks for roughly 10 lbs. I got lucky with the standard tomatoes. I got a tip to try the framers market at Lunken Airport (if you aren’t a Cincinnati native this will mean nothing to you). And those folks are the real deal out there. There’s a parking lot where trucks pull up; the people selling are clearly the growers. Upon my approach I was listening to a BMW driver fussing about what bag his produce is put in. Watching this guy in loafers and seersucker shorts get cranky over the size of his brown paper bag made me miss providing customer service in no way whatsoever. I approached an old curmudgeon farmer just beyond seersucker. Now reader, you should know what I look like to fully grasp the interaction to follow. I am tattooed. My hair is buzzed off into a very short mohawk. I am 37, but people seem to guess me as younger than that. I asked the farmer how much for 25lbs of tomatoes. His eyes narrowed into a hard look. After a pause that was too long for comfort, he asked what I was using them for. I said canning. Disbelief quickly followed by a little burgeoning esteem for me flashed across his face. He leaned back and hollered to the farmer next to him. After a brief conversation he brought out a half-bushel basket of tomatoes from the truck. He had prepared the basket for someone else who failed to show. The tomatoes had minor blemishes making them perfect for canning and at a discounted price. I paid 10 bucks for 25lbs of tomatoes. AWESOME.
I might update this blog when I sample the tomatoes that we canned. I have some recipes coming up that will cause me to crack open some jars.