Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Yes, We Can!



This post is going to be picture-heavy. Please avoid if tomatoes disgust you. In fact, you probably shouldn't come here at all anymore. (Just kidding, I really like you!)

I have officially decided that if my tomato plants are going to keep giving me tomatoes, the ugly things aren't going anywhere.

That is why Jonathan and I decided it was time to buy some canning jars and give it the old college try. We love to eat chili, stews, and soups in the winter and what could be better than cracking open a jar of homegrown tomatoes? As much as I love the maters freshly picked, I figured home-canned tomatoes have to be pretty good, too. Looks like we'll find out soon. :)

This was completely trial-and-error, as we were both elbow deep with tomato guts, running between four burners full of boiling water and the recipe. However, for prosperity (and to remind myself of what I did for next time), here's a rundown of how it happened. Complete with photographic evidence!

First step, you get a bunch of sun- and/or windowsill-ripened tomatoes. Our goal was to make five pints of canned whole tomatoes, since that's all that can fit in our pot. We figured this would suffice:



Next, you ask your husband nicely to core every tomato so that you don't end up with lots of little palm cuts to match the one you got on your first attempt:



Then the tomatoes get naked. We blanched a few for no more than a minute and plunged them into the ice bath to cool off:



After that we were shocked that the tomatoes slipped easily from their skin (despite the fact that everything we'd read said it would happen). Naked tomatoes were odd and Nathan was appalled, but we did it:



Once all of the tomatoes were squishy, nude versions of their former selves, it was time. The five pint jars came out of the dishwasher, tomatoes were delicately squished into them, and boiling water covered the fruit, along with a splash of lemon juice (for some scientific reason):



Once the fifth jar was filled, we realized we had miscalculated. :) Two more pint jars were quickly sanitized and we stayed up until 10:30 for two full rounds of processing in the stock pot. When all seven jars were out and each lid "pinged" into position as it cooled, we were done. We did it! Yes, we can, and you can, too!



I doubt they look exactly like they're supposed to, but I'm almost 80% sure we did it correctly and that should mean fresh-tasting chili if the weather ever cools down. We'll be sure to invite you over for supper. :)

In the meantime, however, I only have five empty jars, yet dozens of tomatoes on the counter and even more steadily growing on the vines. We may have started canning, but fresh tomato season is still in gear. Let me know if you want some. PLEASE! Happy Wednesday, y'all.

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