This past weekend I went to my local farmer’s market. On my way out, I saw a vendor that was selling some really nice looking Juliet tomatoes (Juliet tomatoes look like grape tomatoes except they are bigger). I was going to buy one quart for $3, but the farmer asked me if I’d liked to can some of these tomatoes. He explained that he has an exorbitant amount of these Juliet tomatoes, and he can’t sell them fast enough, so he’d sell me 30 pounds for $15. What??? That’s 50 cents per pound….yes, I’ll take them!
I decided I would can most of my tomatoes whole and add some rosemary, basil, or oregano for flavor. This way, I’d be able to use the whole tomatoes to make sauce, to dice, to crush, etc… It took me 6 hours to can about 3/4 of my 30 pounds. Much of that time was spent waiting for the water to boil and for the cans to process in their hot-water bath. I used a hot-water bath since I do not own a pressure canner. Tomatoes are low acidity, so you have to add a little lemon juice in order to preserve them safely. Even though I only used 3/4 of my tomatoes, I was still able to get 8 quart-sized jars and 2 pint-sized jars. This was a tedious process, but well worth it; I’ll have tomatoes for ages or at least for several months. My mom’s best friend buys pumpkins a day or two after Halloween for very cheap and then cans the pumpkin to use for baking breads, cookies, pies, etc… So if you’re looking to can, check out your local farmer’s market and talk with the vendors. Ask them if they are going to have a surplus of something and how you can help take it off their hands!
Water-Bath Canning Directions:
- Sterilize the mason jars and lids in boiling water for 10 minutes.
- Once jars are sterilized, place 2 tbsp of lemon juice to the bottom of each quart-sized jar and 1 tbsp for pint-sized jars.
- Meanwhile, in a large stock pot, place as many tomatoes as the pot will hold and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Drain the tomatoes and rinse with cold water.
- When tomatoes are cooled enough to handle, peel off the skins.
- Meanwhile, boil some fresh water in a tea kettle.
- Place tomatoes in the jars along with fresh herbs like oregano, basil, rosemary, garlic cloves, etc…
- Once the water in the kettle has boiled, fill the jars with boiling water leaving 2 inches of space at the top of the jars.
- Remove any air bubbles by taking a nonmetallic utensil and firmly pressing the food.
- Using a clean dish towel, wipe the rims of the jars to allow lids to seal.
- Apply the lids and screw rings tightly.
- Repeat this process until all the tomatoes have been used.
- Fill the canner with water halfway and heat the water on high. Place the jars in the rack and lower into the hot water. Make sure there is at least 2 inches of water above the lids of the jars. If not, add more hot water.
- Bring the water to a full boil, cover, and cook jars for 45 minutes.
- After 45 minutes, turn the heat off and allow to cool before lifting the jars out.
- Lift jars out and allow to cool for at least 12 hours.
- Once jars have cooled, check the seal of the lid by pressing your thumb into the center. It should not pop or give at all. If it does, place jar in refrigerator and use within a few days.