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How to Can Tomatoes: My Family’s Style

Updated on February 2, 2014
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So, the harvest season has caught up with you once again and the ripe Roma tomatoes are calling. They’re teasing you with their shimmering red skins, rich heady fragrance and explosively tangy taste. You break down, buy a bushel or two (or twelve) and cart it home with toe-curling contentment … now what?

Hopefully, you bought that many because you were going to can that tomato-y goodness to enjoy year-round. Instead of just tomatoes in a jar, maybe you’re wanting to make a simple sauce that can be used as a base for mouth-watering pomadoro, creamy salsa or to use as-is when you’re crunched for time. If so, you may be interested in how my family cans tomatoes …


Ingredients you will need ...

To Taste:

  • Olive Oil
  • Butter
  • Banana peppers
  • Garlic cloves
  • Fresh Basil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Crushed red pepper

OMRA Spremy Electric Tomato Strainer 1/4 HP Model 850
OMRA Spremy Electric Tomato Strainer 1/4 HP Model 850

Made in Italy, this heavy-duty electric food grinder will save you valuable time and man-power.

 

Tools you will need ...

  • Knife
  • Pail or container for cut tomatoes
  • Pail or container for tomato grindings
  • Compost or discard pail
  • Large bowls
  • Stock pot (or larger depending on what size batch you’re working with)
  • Stove or burner
  • Cheesecloth
  • Hanging hook
  • Tomato grinder
  • Wooden stir stick
  • Cooking spoon
  • Juice jug or measuring cup
  • Sterilized jars, lids and rings
  • Baskets or rubber tubs
  • Blankets


Step 1 - Prep

→ Wash your tomatoes thoroughly to remove any debris or insects that might be caught in the box with them.

→ Remove the stem ends and any part of the tomatoes that are bruised or rotten. These parts can taint the flavour of your finished product.

→ Quarter the tomatoes.


Step 2 - Softening

→ Place the quartered tomatoes in a large stock pot with some water.

→ Cover and boil until tomatoes are soft.

→ Remove from the water and strain with a cheesecloth.


Source

Step 3 - Grinding

→ Feed the strained tomatoes into your tomato grinder. You’ll notice that your machine produces mostly liquid from the first run-thought. Be sure to catch the skin that the machine spits out. You will need to feed them through the grinder two more times (that’s three times in total).


Note: Don’t push your luck by trying to run them through a fourth time or you may clog your machine.

During the second run-through, the tomatoes will yield some pulp. On the third time through, you will get the most valuable meaty content of the tomatoes.


Step 4 - Cooking

→ Put olive oil and butter in your stock pot and heat it up.

→ Skin and quarter your garlic cloves.

→ Slice the banana peppers.

→ Fry the garlic and peppers in the oil and butter. When the peppers are golden, remove them. (We just needed them for flavour.)

→ Take the juice/pulp you’ve harvest from the tomatoes and strain it through the cheesecloth. Let some of the clear liquid drain off. Be careful not to remove all the liquid or your sauce will be too thick. Dump the remaining pulp into your stock pot.

→ Season with basil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and crushed red peppers.

→ Bring to a boil, stirring frequently to avoid scorching the sauce to the bottom of the pot.

→ Leave the pot uncovered so any excess water can be boiled off.


Note: Boiling will cause a foam on the top of your sauce. This is the acid boiling off.

You will know when your sauce is done when the foam has been boiled off.

→ Boil for 2-3 hours, adding more seasoning to taste.

→ If the oil and butter float to the top your sauce, carefully skim it off with a cooking spoon and discard.



Step 5 - Canning

→ Have your jars set up with 2-3 leaves of basil in each.

→ Make sure your jars are warm. It is very important that the jars are not cold, otherwise they may crack or refuse to seal properly.

→ Take your basket and place a blanket inside, leaving enough hanging out to wrap.


This is where my family tradition differs from other families. Everyone has their own method of canning that works for them. Since this is about my family’s style, this is how we do it ... You’ll need at least two people for this next part:


Note: It’s always a good idea to label each jar with the year and contents.

→ One person scoops the sauce out of the pot and pours it into the jars. The other person quickly places the lids on the full jars and screws the rings on tightly. The jars are then placed in the basket.

→ When the basket is full, the excess blanket is wrapped around the jars and the basket is put aside to cool for a few days. The jars will seal as they cool, preserving your yummy sauce for years to come.


This sauce is an excellent base for many recipes and can also be used on its own over pasta if you’re in a hurry for a quick meal.


From my family to yours: Buon appetito!

© 2011 Rosa Marchisella

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    • I Am Rosa profile imageAUTHOR

      Rosa Marchisella 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Flora - I found the easiest method (especially for someone like me with NO green-thumb) is to buy a pre-potted hanging plant. As I mentioned to carcro, I like the little tomatoes (ie. tiny tims, grape tomatoes, etc.) It pretty much takes care of itself, as long as I remember to water it. Depending on how much tomatoes you go through, I find one or two plants provide enough for myself, my mom and most of my neighbours :-D They're lovely to eat right off the vine, still warm from the sun.

      For bigger tomatoes, I usually buy plants that have been started for me, plunk 'em in a sunny spot and water them every evening or two.

      For canning, though, I suggest waiting until the grocery store sells the romano tomatoes by the crate/bushel so you have enough all at once.

      If you feel brave enough next spring to tackle a plant or two, let us know. Photos and articles!!! ;-)

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 

      7 years ago

      I've never grown my own tomatoes.

    • I Am Rosa profile imageAUTHOR

      Rosa Marchisella 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Thank you! Best with your canning!

    • carcro profile image

      Paul Cronin 

      7 years ago from Winnipeg

      Congrats on the baby! Good luck on the Tomatoes and zucchini!

    • I Am Rosa profile imageAUTHOR

      Rosa Marchisella 

      7 years ago from Canada

      I tried a hanging tomato plant for tiny tims, but was on the wrong side of the building to get enough light. I considered trying to grow them inside until I realized that my apartment was connected to the other living spaces in the building via the vents. I was getting cigarette smoke and other unhealthy crud via the vents. Nearly all my plants died in the first 6 months of being there (I still miss Fred, my "hardy" vine) and I decided that growing anything there was a bad idea. Which is why when I found out I was pregnant, I began looking for a new place to "grow" a baby :-) My goal for the next home is that it will have a lovely bit of growing area for tomatoes and zucchini!

    • carcro profile image

      Paul Cronin 

      7 years ago from Winnipeg

      Ours is just a small one, I think we grew just 3 tomato bushes last year but still get at least 4 dozen tomatoes off those plants. If you have any space at all, its worth growing them...even inside

    • I Am Rosa profile imageAUTHOR

      Rosa Marchisella 

      7 years ago from Canada

      YUM! I miss having a garden and fresh tomatoes .... *sigh* Glad this hub is useful to you!

    • carcro profile image

      Paul Cronin 

      7 years ago from Winnipeg

      I love fresh grown tomatoes, we always grow a few in our small garden. Thanks for the great tips on how to can them ourselves. This will come in real handy for those cold winter months. Thanks for the info!

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