There’s nothing like being able to reach for a jar of home canned tomatoes from your own cupboard on a wintry day when you want to make chili or spaghetti. Years ago I did quite a bit of canning as I didn’t have a freezer and I wanted to make good use of my small garden’s harvest and the vegetables and fruits that neighbors shared. Seasons of life and circumstances changed and I let the canning fall by the wayside. However, when doing some cleaning in my garage this spring, I found a box of canning jars from days gone by. Instead of throwing them out, I said, ‘I may need these this summer.’ Sure enough I am going to use them.
This year I experimented by planting tomatoes in 15 gallon black nursery containers in April and growing them in the greenhouse, fertilizing regularly. Results…jungle plants! And as a by-product, lots of tomatoes. So my friend, Rena, and I will try our hand at canning some this week
I’ll share how I plan on canning tomatoes. First we will wash them, making sure we have selected nice ripe ones. Then we will pour boiling water over them to scald the skins so we can remove them easily. I plan on using the water bath canning method and cold-packing the tomatoes. To do this, we will wash the wide mouth jars in hot soapy water and rinse well, making sure none are cracked. While we do this part of the job, the water bath canner with will be heating up on the stove to hot, not boiling. The jar lids and rings must be hot so we will put them in a saucepan with boiling water poured over them. Then we will press whole tomatoes tightly into jars leaving ½” headspace and making sure there are no air bubbles by sliding a rubber spatula down the side of the jar. The seals will be adjusted; the jars placed on the canner rack and submerged (jars 1-2” below water) into the hot water with the lid on the canner. The canner will then be brought to a boil and kept boiling for 50 minutes. Finally, we remove them with a jar lifter and let them cool. As they cool the lids will ‘pop’, indicating that they sealed.
Most state extension services have great information online on canning methods if you want to research and try it for yourself. Or you may have suggestions, tips and personal experiences to offer The Daily Lily readers. Home canning takes some time, energy and work but it provides great fellowship when working with a friend and will be well worth the effort when we are enjoying good eating this winter.