Recipes @ Canning Tomatoes

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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Canning Tomatoes

Learn tips and techniques for canning summer's bounty of tomatoes, including how to select the finest tomatoes for home canning.

Canning summer vegetables is a great way to enjoy a seasonal taste during the off-season months of the year. Tomatoes are particularly bountiful toward the end of summer, and regardless of how many fresh tomatoes you eat or how many recipes and batches of pasta sauce you prepare to put them to good use, there always seems to be a sizeable surplus.

Patty Beebout, a seasoned home canner who makes canning tomatoes a regular part of her summer routine, shares a food-safe method for preserving late summer's harvest. The tomatoes you select should be at their peak of ripeness, with a deep red color and slightly firm texture.

Rinse them well and drain the tomatoes in a colander. Choose the best of the tomatoes, remove the green tops, and cut each one in half lengthwise, spooning out the cores and seeds. Place the halved tomatoes into a large glass bowl; the seeds, cores and any bruised tomatoes can be made into tomato puree or used for compost. Insert a few leaves of fresh basil into the bottom of canning jars that have been washed in hot soapy water, rinsed well and dried.

Using a wooden spoon, insert the tomatoes into the jars until each jar is about three-quarters full. When placing the tomatoes in the jars, take care not to crush the tomatoes; use only enough pressure to fill any air pockets in the jars. Add a few more basil leaves, and continue inserting tomatoes until the jars are full. By sprinkling a pinch of salt or sugar on the tops of the tomatoes, you'll prevent a hard crust from forming after the tomatoes are processed.

Attach the lids and rings to the jars. Although canning jars can be reused (be sure to thoroughly clean them between uses), the lids can only be used once, so purchase new canning lids every time you can.

To process the tomatoes, use a heavy-bottomed stainless steel pot large enough to hold between six to eight jars. Place a kitchen towel in the bottom of the pot to prevent the jars from touching the bottom of the pot, then place the jars tightly together in the pot to prevent them from banging against one another as the tomatoes process; place an additional kitchen towel across the tops of the jars to further secure them. Fill the pot with water to cover the jars by at least four inches, and cover, using a heavy object, if necessary, to keep the lid on the pot. Bring the water to a boil and process the tomatoes for one hour, keeping the water at a continuous boil.

Leave the jars in the pot until the water is completely cool. Carefully remove the jars from the water, and dry with a towel. To check for a tight seal, try removing the ring from the jar; if you can't twist it off, the jar has properly sealed. Store the jars of canned tomatoes in a dry, cool place.

Patty Beebout
Chariton, IA

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