Although we still have a lot of great weather ahead of us it’s getting to the end of the season for some things in the garden. Last month I harvested garlic which doesn’t require much work at all to preserve. It’s in a cool dark place (our basement) and we will enjoy it’s great taste and nutritional benefits all winter.
Last week I picked fresh organically grown tomatoes and we canned our first batch of tomatoes. While I hated to see them go into jars and processed in a hot water bath, they will be a delicious reminder of freshness and taste when January comes around. Canning is easy and you might want to try it. I’ve provided step by step instructions with photos below. From start to finish it took about 2 hours – 45 minutes of that time was for the hot water bath so about 1 hour and 15 minutes of actual hands on time.
I picked the ripest tomatoes from the garden (photo at the top of this article) washed them with cool water and dried them. I only washed them to remove any dirt as there were no harmful sprays during the year – another benefit of organic gardening.
Once washed they were sorted and cut into wedges. I do not remove the skin so no “blanching” is required – another time saver. They look like this.
Once the tomatoes are sliced and/or diced (your choice) they need to go into a clean glass canning jar that has been kept warm in the water bath (more about this later) with hot water until needed. A plastic funnel is helpful for filling the jars. I always include a few leaves of fresh basil from my garden in each jar. It gives the tomatoes a wonderful flavor.
Once the jar is filled, use caps and rings to close. These are purchased with the jars at the grocery store. Now Place them in the canning bath which is nothing more than a very large kettle with a rack inside that holds 7 jars very securely. Make sure the jars are covered about 2″ above the top with softly boiling water.
Place the top on the canning bath and set the timer for 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes (you’ll want to check the water from time to time to make sure it’s softly boiling and that there is still 2″ of water covering the tops of the jars) carefully lift the jar holder from the canning bath (or use a forceps type of holder to remove them) place them in a draft free are and listen for the “pop” that happens when each one seals. Do not help the seal by pushing down on the unsealed caps. They need to self-seal on their own.
The finished product cooling and sealing!