Sunday, June 23, 2013

A canning we will go!

The other night my husband came home with an unexpected gift... a huge amount of tomatoes from a neighbor!

There were so many (that were ripe or close to ripe) that I was at a loss as to what to do so I thought of canning.  The problem is that I have never canned.  I watched my mother can when I was young but didn't remember much about the process.  I didn't have many jars but a few left from a holiday project that would suffice for at least a little of the tomatoes' uses.

Being that we don't eat a lot of spaghetti sauce (or red sauce, in general), I decided to use those for spaghetti sauce but use the rest for something that we would enjoy more.

So, using some of the other vegetables I had on hand, I made a sauce.  I will include the recipe below.  Please keep in mind that I had no specific canning equipment (save a very large pot with a lid and some canning jars).  I now have my own wish list of canning equipment.  :)

Here is the maiden voyage of my canning experience (many items which brought back fond memories of my mother canning when I was younger).

Spicy Tomato Sauce for Canning 

This was my first canning experience, as an adult (I used to watch my mom when I was a child), so I have made a few post-making commentaries and changes as I look back over what worked and what didn’t.  I am, obviously, not an expert so please read other canning suggestions to verify any safety concerns.

10 Large Ripe Tomatoes
1 Red Bell Pepper (chopped)
½ Green Pepper (chopped)
4 Cloves Garlic (minced)
1 White onion (chopped)
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
¼ Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 Bay Leaf
½ Tspn Paprika
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
½ Tspn Powdered Thyme
¼ Tspn Marjoram
1 ½ Tspn Salt
Lemon Juice (for last step before canning)


Fill a large stock pot at least ½ full (I did my tomatoes in two batches of 5 each, for this part of the process,  as they were large).  Bring the water to a boil.  Add the tomatoes and boil for 2 minutes.

Immediately place the tomatoes into ice water to split the skins.  Once the tomatoes are cool enough peel them and set aside.  [ Some people quarter the tomatoes and squeeze out the seeds and excess water.  I did not, I chopped them but left everything in.  Looking back I should have removed a little bit of the water . ]

In a large skillet sauté the olive oil with the minced garlic, peppers and onion on medium-high heat.  Once it the garlic is starting to brown and the onions are caramelizing (clear with slightly browned edges) place them into a medium-large stock pot and place on the heated burner. 

Leaving the burner on, start adding your tomatoes and spices.  Keep sautéing them and lightly mashing the tomatoes, as they soften, to get a slightly smoother body.  Turn to low and cover, cooking for an hour and stirring occasionally.

Start boiling another large pot full of enough water to cover the jars (while standing upright in a jar basket) and having another 1-2” of water above that.   Get your canning equipment ready (jar basket, funnel, jar grabber, lid magnet etc.).  This pot will be your “water bath canner”.

After your jars and lids have been washed in hot, soapy water (or in a dishwasher that will finish at the same time as the cooking process) place the cooked sauce into quart sized jars (leaving ½” of room at the top).  Add 1 Tbsp of Lemon Juice to each.

Wipe the jars’ outside thread and dry them.  Set the rings onto the jars and center them.  Put the metal bands on and tighten down until finger tight (do not over-tighten).  By this point your water should be boiling, or close to it, in your large water-bath pan.

Place the jars into the jar basket and lower them into the boiling water (making sure that none of them will hit one another while boiling).  Boil for 30 minutes (or more, if you are above 1,000’ elevation).  Carefully remove the jars when done and place them, gently, onto a towel in a non-drafty area.  Listen for the “pop” as the lids seal themselves.

Leave for 12-24 hours and, after that, gently press the lids to check for movement.  If no movement then you have a good seal!  Properly sealed jars can be used for up to a year.  If you get a poor seal, or no seal, it’s probably best to use that can right away or place the contents in a bag and freeze them… just in case.

References that Assisted me with My Canning Process:

So, that's my maiden voyage into canning!  I am still trying to use the last of the tomatoes.  I will post some of the next items that I did, between this first batch and now, soon.  Happy Canning!

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