I’ve never canned tomatoes, but canned tomatoes are essential when making my favorite dish: Slopped-Up Spaghetti. This process was explained to me through a collaborative effort of my mom, grandma and aunt.
- tomatoes from your garden (if you have one, or local farmer’s market if you don’t) – whatever amount is fully ripened (unpeeled)
- quart-sized canning jars with lids
- jar grabber,
- porcelain jar funnel
- Chinois set (sieve, wooden pestle and stand)
- large pot(s) (anything besides aluminum)
- canning kettle
- Remove the core of the tomatoes (if using large tomatoes) and cut into pieces. Cook in a large pot over medium heat until soft. If using a tall pot, you will need to rotate the tomatoes from top to bottom to ensure the tomatoes are cooking evenly. Note: You don’t want to use an aluminum pot because the acid from the tomatoes will ruin an aluminum pot.
- While cooking the tomatoes, sterilize your jars. This can be done a number of ways (in the dishwasher, in the oven, or by boiling). Place sterilized jars in your oven (heated to 225 degrees) with the mouth of the jar facing the oven door. Leave the jars in the oven until pouring the sauce in – you’ll do this one at a time.
- Cover the bottom of your kitchen sink with newspaper. Place your Chinois set in your sink with a bowl underneath. You will need to strain the juice in batches.
- Place cooked tomatoes in the sieve. Press the juice through the sieve by pressing/rolling the pestle around the sieve until all that remains is the skin and seeds. Empty the bowl of juice into a large pot. Repeat until you’ve used all your ripened tomatoes.
- Add salt and sugar to the pot, to taste. The ratio of salt to sugar should be slightly more sugar than salt – per my grandma’s tastes. Heat the tomato juice until really hot – but not boiling. While you’re heating the tomato juice, place your lids and rings in a pot of simmering water. Keep these hot until you cover the jars.
- Using your funnel, pour the tomato juice into the sterilized jars. Fill the jar leaving half an inch of space from the top of the jar. Ensure that the top edge of the jar is clean. If necessary wipe the top of the jars clean with a damp cloth. Remove a lid and ring from the hot water and cover the jar. Place the jar on your counter (cover your counter with newspaper). You’ll hear a popping noise when the jar seals.
My sister has been canning tomatoes from her garden for a few years now. The pictures are compliments of her 2010 harvest.