Canning tomatoes is probably one of the best ways to preserve these luscious vegetables. Because they will go bad after only a few days, canning tomatoes is a great option. You may can them a variety of ways, as well - whether it's spaghetti sauce, tomato puree, or quartered tomatoes, the finished product will always be delicious and versatile! There is just nothing better than a steaming bowl of soup cooked with home canned tomatoes.
What kind of tomatoes to can
The USDA states that any kind of tomato can be safely canned, including the yellow and orange varieties. Even green, unripe tomatoes can be safely canned due to the large amount of acid they contain! But never can mushy or bruised tomatoes, as any mold or rotten spots will introduce the very bacteria you are trying to kill through the canning process.
There are, however, preferred types of canning tomatoes. Roma tomatoes are a good choice, as are San Marzano, because they have less water content, making them easier to work with.Many do not advise canning cherry or grape tomatoes - this seems to be a personal safety preference that you will have to decide for yourself.
How to can tomatoes
First you must decide in what form you are going to can them. You can puree them, making a smooth tomato paste; or you can quarter them for future soups and casseroles. We have found that quartered tomatoes work great because you can do so much with the finished product!
1. Gather your tomatoes. If you're wanting to make seven quarts, which is the most commonly done, you will need approximately 20 pounds of tomatoes. The easiest and least expensive way to do this is to buy them at a local orchard or on sale at the grocery store.
2. Blanch your tomatoes. Blanching is the easy alternative to peeling the skins off by hand. Anyone who has done this knows what a long, messy process this can be! That's why blanching is such a commonly used method.
To blanch your tomatoes, drop them in a pot of boiling water for 10 - 15 seconds; longer if needed. Immediately remove them and place them in ice water (make sure you actually have ice cubes floating around in the bowl). Let them soak for a minute, and then take them out and simply pull off the skins!
3. Prepare the tomatoes. There are many different ways to do this. You can quarter them; or you can puree them at this point. Quartered tomatoes work best for soups, stews, and casseroles; while pureed tomatoes can serve as a future paste, sauce, or ketchup.
For pureed tomatoes, blend them or place them in a food processor until they reach the desired consistency. Then pour into sterilized jars and proceed with canning directions.
For quartered or chopped tomatoes, cut them to the size you want, and then pack into sterilized jars with water. Continue with pressure canning.
4. Pack into jars. After you have packed or poured your tomatoes into jars, wipe off the rims with a clean, damp rag. This will remove any tomato juice and other organisms that might prevent the lid from sealing properly. Screw on the rims finger tight.
5. Canning tomatoes. Place jars into your water bath canner, and bring to a rolling boil.
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