My Blog

My blog has morphed over the years into different things. It is a place to learn about saving money, product reviews, cooking, gardening, and homesteading. It can take you to whatever has my attention at the moment and then back to the day to day. I hope you will learn something here and come back often.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Processing Tomatoes ~ Option 2

Sorry it has taken me a few days to get this post up.  I've been canning tomatoes!  I've also been working in the garden.  The garden was so happy to see the rain last week but the weeds were too!!  I couldn't believe how they took over in just a few days time!

In the last blog I showed you the traditional way of peeling tomatoes.  You know....the boil, dump in ice water, then peel and core.  Well, here is the EASY way to do it!

Core the tomatoes

Throw them in a food and all

Then I cook it down just like in the previous post.

Once your tomatoes are at the consistency that you want them, it's time to can or freeze them.

To can them you will need a large pot, jars, 
and these handy gadgets if possible.
Funnel, jar lifter, lid magnet

I begin by filling my canning pot about 2/3 of the way full.  Turn the stove on high and let the water begin heating.  This will take a while because of the volume of water you are working with.  While the water is heating I wash my jars and lids then place them in the pot of water.  This way they heat up with the water.

In the meantime, make sure your tomato sauce is hot.  REMEMBER...always add HOT liquid to HOT jars. If you don't you could have a mess!

Use your funnel to keep the top of the jar clean. Add 1 T. lemon juice to each pint jar and 2 T. to each quart of tomatoes.  Fill the jar with tomato sauce leaving 1/2" headspace at the top.  Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp cloth.  Place lid on jar until just tight.  Do not overdo it!  Put you jar back in the water bath.  Repeat until you have enough jars to fill the pot.  Cover and boil for 35 minutes.  Once they are finished, remove from the water and place on a towel.  You will hear the pop of the tops as they begin to seal.  Let the jars rest for 24 hours and then store.  You may also want to write the contents and date on the lid.

Now, if you have read this far in my blog, I think you deserve a prize!  Please go check this out.  Let me know which video is your favorite and you will be entered to win a coupon for FREE Purex!  I'll let you know my favorite in the next blog.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Journey to the End of the Tomatoes ~Preserving Tomatoes

The tomatoes are coming in!  What you can't see are all of the ones lining my kitchen island!  I started bringing them in so they can continue to ripen inside because as they ripen outside the birds start feasting on them.  Nothing aggravates me more than seeing peck marks in my beautiful ripe tomatoes!

So, now the works begins.  I'm going to give you a little description of how I prepare the tomatoes for canning.  Now, there are many ways to can tomatoes.  I would recommend have a Ball Blue Book in your kitchen at all times.  It's my favorite guide to all things canning! The Blue Book may have something similar to what I'm going to tell you about but I'm not sure.  I am going to tell you about the way I like to process my tomatoes.  I learned to do it this way through experimenting the last couple of years.  

Of course, we begin by washing everything off and removing any stems that remain.

Step 1:  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Place a few tomatoes in the water at a time.  I think "technically" you are supposed to leave them in for about 30 seconds.  I don't really time mine.  I just keep everything moving at a pretty good pace and it all seems to work out.  If the tomatoes split while in the water that's not a problem.

Step 2:  Place tomatoes in a pan of ice cold water to stop them from cooking.  You will have to replace the water and ice frequently as the tomatoes will heat it up in no time!

Step 3:  Peel tomatoes and core them.  The peels should just slide right off without much work on your part.  If the skin did not split on it's own while in the boiling water, I just take a sharp knife and slice lightly across the bottom of the tomato.  Slip the skins into your compost container and cut out the core and any bad spots that may be on your tomato.

Step 4:  Place all of your tomatoes in a large stock pot.  Do NOT add water!  Just fill it up until it's almost full and set your temperature to Med/High and let it cook.  This is NOT going to be a short process!  I wander through and stir the tomatoes whenever I think about it and adjust the temp up or down depending on how hard it is cooking.  You want it to just barely boil.  I cook it down until it is about 1/3 of it's original volume (usually 4-5 hours).  This cooks the water out so you are not canning 1/2 water and 1/2 tomatoes.
Ok, I had mine too full and had to add a 3rd pot
When the tomatoes get to the consistency that I like, I add diced onions, garlic, fresh basil, salt and pepper.  You can also add a dash of sugar to cut some of the acidity if you would like.  I let this cook for another 30 minutes or so.  Grab your handy dandy boat motor aka hand blender and blend to get an even consistency.  Now you are ready to can, freeze, or use your tomato sauce!
Front pot blended the back pot was not

I have an easier way of processing your fresh tomatoes.  I hope to have it ready for you in the next day or two and then we will go to How To Can.