Canning Tomatoes and Tomato Juice

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Canning Tomatoes is probably the most common form of vegetable canning done by people in their homes. Tomatoes are also one of the easiest and most versatile vegetables for canning. (OK - I know, tomatoes are really fruit...). They can easily be processed into juice and with a bit more effort and time, they can be made into pasta sauce, soups, or home made catchup. Tomatoes are a good source of antioxidants, lycopene, and other nutrients.

Canned Tomatoes & Tomato Juice

Supplies Needed for Canning Tomatoes

-Fresh ripe tomatoes
-Boiling Water Canner
-Canning Salt
-Fresh or bottled lemon juice
-Large Stock pot (2 Gallon is ideal)
-Paring Knife
-Large bowl or dish pan
-Medium sized bowl (for peelings & cores)
-Slotted Spoon
-Small sauce pan
-Glass canning jars
-Canning lids and rings
-Jar Lifter
-Magnetic lid wand
-Canning funnel
-Measuring spoons
-Ladle or glass measuring pitcher
-A couple of old towels or scrap rags

For Juice:To make juice you will need either a Foley Food Mill, a food processor, or a tomato press.

Preparing Tomatoes for Canning

Blanched tomato with split skin - ready to peel

The first step you need to do is peel and clean your tomatoes.  The easiest way to accomplish this is to blanch them:

-Fill large stock pot 1/2 full with water, and bring to a boil.

-Place the tomatoes in the boiling water until their skins begin to split (usually less than one minute).

-Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes and place them in a sink filled with cold water and ice.

-Repeat until all tomatoes have been blanched.

-Core tomatoes, slip off the skins and cut away any bad or unripe spots. Do this over the pan that you are putting thefinished tomatoes into. This allows you to save any juice that gets squeezed out.

-Cut any larger tomatoes into smaller pieces.

Preparing Tomato Juice

If you are going to be canning tomato juice, process the peeled & cored tomatoes using a Foley Food Mill or a food processor.

OR - If you are lucky enough to have a tomato press (or can find one), you don't have to peel the tomatoes first - just blanch them and remove the cores.  You may need to cut larger tomatoes into smaller pieces that the mill can handle, but that's about all.  This wonder of technology separates the juice from the skins, seeds, and cores automatically and easily.

An Italian made tomato press

Preparing, Filling and Closing the Jars

-Wash jars, lid and rings and inspect for damage and defects.
-Put 2" water in small sauce pan and bring to boil.
-Remove from heat, and place lids in water.
-Fill jars with tomatoes (or juice) and leave 1/2 inch of head space.
-Add enough juice to cover the tomatoes.
-Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice per pint (2 tablespoons per quart)
-Add 1/2 teaspoon canning salt per pint (1 teaspoon per quart).
-Remove any air bubbles in the jar.
-Wipe rims of jars with wet dish cloth or paper towel.
-Assemble lids and rings and apply to jars.
-Tighten lids to hand tight.

Canning Tomatoes and Tomato Juice

-Fill boiling water canner 1/2 full with water and bring to a boil.
-Place jars in canner and make sure all jars are covered with water.
-Bring water back to a boil and maintain canner at a low boil.
-Process for 45 minutes for pints. (Quarts for 50 min.)
-When done, remove jars and place them on counter to cool.

When canning tomatoes, you will find that jars may take up to an hour to seal, but wait until they have cooled to room temperature to be sure. Any jars that do not seal will have to be either eaten right away (within 24 hours) or refrigerated and eaten with in a week or two. Jars that don't seal are fairly uncommon if you follow instructions, but it does happen occasionally. When the odd one doesn't seal, just think of it as a quality check of your work!

Cost of Canning Tomatoes

It takes about 3 pounds of raw tomatoes to fill a quart canning jar. A bushel of fresh tomatoes weigh around 50 pounds, so will make about 16 quarts (or 32 pints).

A bushel of tomatoes cost around $25 from a Farmers Market. This calculates out to about 64 cents a quart or 32 cents a pint.

If you grow your own tomatoes, your only cost is starter plants or seeds, canning lids, and your time.  Growing heirloom or open pollinated plants even allows you to save seeds and grow your own seeds the following year!

Add to that, the satisfaction of having done it yourself and knowing EXACTLY what went into YOUR tomatoes.  How can you possibly go wrong???

By comparison, a quart of canned tomatoes from the store cost around $1.50.

Canning tomatoes and tomato juice can be an inexpensive way to preserve them for long term storage. They will provides a versatile base that can be used in cooking many popular dishes like pasta sauce, chili, vegetable and tomato soups and salsa.

Tomatoes straight from the can and home made tomato juice are pretty tasty as well! Canning your own tomatoes is just one more small step on the way to your higher level of self sufficiency.

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Tomato Related Links:

Growing Tomatoes

Waterbath Canning

Blanching Tomatoes

Home Made Salsa

Home Made Ketchup

Making Pasta Sauce