Canning tomatoes is a great way to preserve them for use throughout the year. Whether you grow your own tomatoes or buy them in bulk during the summer, canning them will allow you to enjoy their flavor all year round. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to can tomatoes:
Materials you will need:
- Mason jars with lids and bands
- Large pot for boiling water
- Tongs or a jar lifter
- Clean cloths or paper towels
- Lemon juice or citric acid
- Salt (optional)
Step 1: Prepare the Tomatoes
Start by washing the tomatoes thoroughly in cool water. Remove any stems and bruises, and discard any tomatoes that are overly ripe or damaged. You can also peel the tomatoes by scoring an "X" on the bottom of each tomato and blanching them in boiling water for 30 seconds. Then, transfer them to a bowl of ice water to cool down. The skins should peel off easily.
Step 2: Prepare the Jars
Wash the jars, lids, and bands in hot soapy water and rinse well. Keep them in hot water until ready to use to prevent breakage when filled with hot tomatoes. Also, make sure to inspect the jars for any chips or cracks and discard any that are damaged.
Step 3: Add Acid
Add 1 tablespoon of bottled lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid to each pint jar or 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid to each quart jar. The acid will help preserve the tomatoes and prevent bacterial growth.
Step 4: Fill the Jars
Pack the peeled and cored tomatoes into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt per pint jar, if desired. Use a non-metallic utensil to remove any air bubbles and adjust the headspace if necessary.
Step 5: Seal the Jars
Wipe the rim of each jar with a clean, damp cloth or paper towel to remove any tomato residue or debris. Place the lid on the jar and screw on the band until it is fingertip tight. Don't over tighten the band, as this can prevent air from escaping during processing.
Step 6: Process the Jars
Place the jars in a large pot of boiling water, making sure they are covered by at least 1 inch of water. Bring the water to a full boil and process pint jars for 35 minutes and quart jars for 45 minutes. Adjust the processing time for altitude.
Step 7: Cool and Store
Once the processing time is complete, turn off the heat and remove the pot from the stove. Use tongs or a jar lifter to carefully remove the jars from the water and place them on a clean, dry surface. Allow the jars to cool undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. Check the seals by pressing down on the center of each lid. If the lid is firm and doesn't move, the jar is properly sealed. Store the sealed jars in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
In conclusion, canning tomatoes is an easy and rewarding way to preserve your summer harvest or bulk purchases for use throughout the year. By following these steps, you can safely can tomatoes and enjoy their delicious flavor long after the summer months have passed.