Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes! Oh, how we love our vine- ripened tomatoes. There isn’t a day that passes all summer and what I can still get in the fall, that I don’t eat a tomato. All winter long I count the days till the first, perfect one shows up in my garden. Nothing is better than a warm, juicy tomato picked right before dinner, one that has been basking in the sun’s rays all day long. Most times they only need salt and pepper. But I’ll take them anyway I can get them, in caprese salad, smothered over homemade pasta, popping them like candy for an afternoon snack, or even just biting into them like an apple right in the middle of the garden!
So, the best way to get your vine-ripened tomatoes in the winter is to can them. I try to can as many as I can during the summer. It takes a little bit of time, longer if you have small children distracting you but it’s still totally worth it! Sometimes, I watch the weather for a stormy weekend day and plan a canning day for when I’m stuck inside. There is so many thing you can do with fresh tomatoes. Can them, make sauce or paste, or make your own salsa. I even make cute little labels and sell them at bazaars and shopping events or give them as presents at Christmas time.
Here’s my step-by-step on how to can your own tomatoes and stock up your pantry for the winter…
- Start with as many organic tomatoes as you can. Beefsteak, Better Boys, and Romas (for paste) are the best ones to use. Check your local farmers sometimes they’ll sell canning tomatoes by the bucket full for pretty cheap!
- Make sure to sterilize your jars, lids, and rings in a large pot of boiling water, use the highest temp or ”sanitize” on your dishwasher.
- Fill your bath canner or large pot half full with water and bring it to a boil.
- Place a few tomatoes at a time into the boiling water. This is an easy way to remove the skins by putting them into the boiling water for 45 seconds. Then plunge tomatoes into a bowl of iced water for about a minute. Leaving the skins on will cause them to be tough and chewy in your sauce.
- Cut off the skins, any bruised or rotting spots.Then cut the tomatoes in quarters or smaller if you wish.
- Fill up your jars with whole or cut tomatoes to 1/4 inch from the top.
- Add 1 Tablespoon of organic lemon juice (this keeps the tomatoes from losing color and spoiling) and then fill to 1/2 inch with boiling water or organic tomato juice. (I think the tomato juice works better and helps keep the flavor.)
- Wipe off the rim of each jar to make sure they’ll get a clean seal. Put on the lids and the rings.
- Boil the jars for 45 minutes in a bath canner or large pot. Let the jars sit out to cool before storing them.
Hope you have a great time canning tomatoes this summer. I know you’ll be enjoying them all winter. Let me know how it goes. My last canning day gave me 32 jars of organic tomatoes! Good Luck and Happy Canning!
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