by Meghan E. White
We had a large tomato harvest in our backyard garden this summer. There were so many that a quick decision had to be made on what to do with the tomatoes before they spoiled. Enter the canned tomato. This was my first time canning, and I loved it.
There is something so satisfying about preserving food that you’ve grown. Even the basil in each jar is from our garden. I have a whole new respect for the generations before me who had no choice but to preserve their food for those long winter months. No wonder not a drop of food was wasted back in the day. Each morsel meant hard work was involved.
A few things to consider before you decide to take the plunge on this endeavor. It will make a decent sized mess in your kitchen. It will take at least two hours of your time. You don’t need a canning pot. The only tool you should purchase or borrow is canning tongs, and of course jars.
If you have ever wanted to try canning, tomatoes are a great way to start. They are probably one of the least fussy foods to preserve. You will still need to sterilize your jars and lids, but there is less concern over botulism because tomatoes are a high acidic fruit. You will have your very own tomatoes on hand to make sauces, soups, stews, or any other tomato based recipe.
I love trying new things and canning tomatoes surprised me with happiness. Tomatoes are a staple in my cooking, and now I have my own canned supply from my garden. If you decide to take the leap into canning like I did, send me your pictures. I’d love to see what you accomplished. You can do this!
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
● ½ to 1 lb. Roma tomatoes per each 16 oz. jar
● 1 bottle concentrated lemon juice
● fresh sprigs of basil
1. Prepare canning jars. Place jars and lids in simmering water for 10 minutes to sterilize them. The rings do not need to be sterilized and just need to be washed in warm soapy water. To make it easy, just leave the jars and lids in the warm water until you're ready to fill them.
2. Remove the skins from the tomatoes. Wash tomatoes and make an “x” shape with a knife on the bottom of each one. Bring a large pot of water to boil and place scored tomatoes in the pot for a minute or two. When the skins start to tear, scoop out the tomatoes and place them in an ice water bath. Remove the skins, cut out the core, and slice the tomatoes into quarters.
3. Cook the tomatoes. Place one fourth of the tomatoes in a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Crush the tomatoes with a potato masher. Add the remaining tomatoes (do not crush these tomatoes) and boil for 5 minutes.
4. Fill jars with cooked tomatoes. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice concentrate per jar and one sprig of fresh basil. Fill jars with cooked tomatoes leaving ½ inch head space. Wipe the rims and place lids and rings on each jar until finger tight.
5. Process jars in a hot water bath. Place the filled jars in a warm water bath covering them in at least an inch of water. Bring the water to a rolling boil and start timing. 40 minutes for pints and 45 minutes for quarts. Process times can vary depending on your altitude. National Center for Home Food Preparation: Selecting, Preparing, and Canning Tomatoes
6. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lids should not flex up and down when the center is pressed. You should hear a popping sound when they cool or even while they are boiling. Store canned tomatoes for up to a year.
● Make sure to use canning tongs. It will make your job much easier and safer.
● I used a stock pot when processing my cans since it was deep.
● My jars are pint size (16 oz.)
● A wide mouth canning funnel is quite helpful when filling jars.
● Use bottled lemon juice to ensure high enough acidity.
● Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice for quart size jars.
About the Author
Meghan was born in Southern California where she spent most of her youth. After several moves during her childhood, she ended up in Oregon, where she stayed for many years. Meghan never dreamed of being a writer, but God told her to write about Joey. After a few years of writing, it was time for a change of scenery. So, Meghan, her husband, and two sons picked up and moved to Texas. If you listen close you might catch her saying “Ya’ll” from time to time. She loves encouraging kids and adults through writing.