What a treat. Sarah from The Network Fork is going to take us through the steps of basic canning techniques, today. You may not need this but I certainly do. I’ve never canned anything so I’m pretty excited. Got my pad out and ready to take notes :-)
My name is Sarah Nelson, I am the Slow Food Blog writer on The Network Fork. I would like to thank C.J. for letting me be a guest blogger.
My affair with the tomato continues……
There are good reasons for me to be so infatuated with the tomato. Besides being delicious, tomatoes are a food that is filled with Lycopene. What’s Lycopene? you ask. Well, Lycopene is an anti-oxidant that helps prevent cancerous cell formations in the body among other things. Check out www.healthfood-guide.com to learn more.
My favorite way to preserve tomatoes for the winter months is canning. Many people are crazy about making sauce, but the downside to making tomato sauce is, well, all you have is sauce. By canning tomatoes just as a tomato, you have an unlimited number of ways to use them: stews, soups, and yes, sauces, to name a few.
Canning tomatoes is relatively simple. You’ll need canning jars and lids, a canner, some salt, some water and the tomatoes.
Here’s how I do it:
- I fill up the canner with water and let it start heating up.
- I take a second pot – I use a stock pot, but almost any pot will work – and I fill that with water on another burner and likewise set it to cooking.
- I line up my jars – I like quart jars, but again, go crazy. Be a rebel. Grab those pint jars.
- Grab 3 or 4 tomatoes and core them. I use a tomato corer, but in the infamous words of my mother, “Honestly? How hard is it to use a knife?” So again, whatever you are comfortable with.
- Drop the cored tomatoes in the hot water pot. Leave for a minute or so. When you fish them out, the skin should come off easily. This is the tricky part. If the water isn’t hot enough, the skin is difficult to remove. If the skin comes off easily, the tomato is HOT. As in, most of your conversations during this time will involve the word “OW” as well as perhaps some colorful adjectives. Additionally, be careful when using the paring knife to pull the skin from the tomato because tomatoes with no skins are slippery little buggers.
- Slice the piping hot tomato in halves or quarters and drop into jar. My goal is to fill at least 6 jars which means a full load in my canner.
- Before sealing the jars, add a ½ teaspoon of salt and fill with tap water leaving ¼ to ½ inch of headspace at the top. Wipe the lips of the jars and then apply the lids.
- Load the jars into the canner, put on the lid and cook at boiling for 45 minutes.
- When done processing, carefully remove jars and let cool.
- When cool, check seals. (The little button should be down and won’t pop when you press it.)
Label. Store. Enjoy!
What’s their shelf life? Most experts agree at least 1 – 2 years, but the rule of thumb is that low-acidic foods last longer than high-acidic foods. Personally, I have no idea. Most of my canned food is getting finished off just as the garden starts to produce again.
My last minute, green-living tip to you is this: when you are done with your canner and pot of water, don’t pour it down the drain! Let it cool and recycle it by watering your plants.
Thanks, Sarah … I learned so much & I really enjoyed your master class … C.J.