Since this is the year of the Tomato Tsunami in my backyard, I’ve spent almost every single saturday for the past 6 weeks doing some sort of tomato preserving. This is batch #2 of tomatoes simply preserved to later use in recipes. I thought maybe this time, I’d take some pictures of the process and do a mini-tutorial since this is really so simple anyone can do it.
First, prepare your jars! You can either put them thru the dishwasher, or I just boil them for a few minutes in my canner. I do the jars and the rings for about 5 minutes. The sealing caps, I put in a smaller dish of boiling water very briefly. Too much pre-boiling o f the caps can ruin the seal. It helps to have a magnet to pull these guys out of the water. Oh! And remember… you can re-use your jars and rings a million times, but always use fresh sealing caps.
The easiest way to peel tomatoes is to plunge them into boiling water for just about a minute (a slotted spoon is REALLY handy here) and then scoop them out into a bowl of icewater. The skins will slide off easily. Cut out the stems and any bad spots here. Note: the smaller your pieces, the more you can fit in a jar, but if you make them too small, you’ll wind up with something resembling sauce.
Once your jars are full of tomato pieces, add two tablespoons of lemon juice, then fill the jars to the top with either boiled water, or boiled tomato juice. (I use water)
The lemon juice not only helps preserve the gorgeous color of your tomatoes, but it also adds acidity, which makes canning tomatoes safer.
Once the jars are full, insert a spoon and wiggle it about a little to dislodge any air bubbles. Add more water if necessary, then wipe the rims with a clean towel, place the sealing cap on top and then screw the ring down snugly. Place the jars in a water bath (or a large stockpot full of boiling water, enough to submerge the jars completely) and process for 30-40 minutes.
If your jars float, that means there’s still air inside. Open em back up and repeat that last little bit. You don’t want air.
Once the jars have processed, remove them from the bath and turn them upside down on a clean towel on the counter. Ignore them for 12 hours. Once they’ve cooled, just check your seal by trying to press down in the center of the cap. It shouldn’t move. If it does, you can reprocess it, or just stick it in the fridge and use it first.
You can use these tomatoes later in chilis, sauces, soups… all those wonderful wintery tomato recipes. I swear the minute it gets down below 60, I’m making tomato soup and grilled cheese!!!