My main goal with canning is to not have to purchase the things I would otherwise purchase. So salsa is one of the major things. The next major thing is canned tomatoes. When the tomatoes leave the farmer’s market at the end of the season, we pretty much don’t buy the again until the next season. We do however buy crushed tomatoes by the droves for making winter sauces, stews and whatever else in the world needs a tomato base.
Last year I made 1 and 1/2 boxes of tomatoes into crushed tomatoes. They lasted until about March. Unfortunately tomatoes don’t really come back into season here until May or June. So this year we made 2 full boxes. I got plain ugly tomatoes from the big farmer’s market for $10 per box. (The farm I got the salsa tomatoes from did not have canners this week, but my schedule was to do these NOW or never). In order to can tomatoes safely you also need bottled lemon juice (or citric acid) and I use canning salt (the salt is optional but salt makes everything taste like a better version of itself.)
Canning tomatoes is very similar to canning salsa, so if you want to see each step check it out here.
1. Set up your supplies, sterilize jars (I use full quart size for the most part for tomatoes). Lemon juice was $2 but probably only used $1 worth. Salt is the same salt I’ve had since I started canning- so FREE this year.
2. Set up your tomato coring station. You need to take out the core, remove any bad spots and cut an X in the skins of each tomato. I set up a box with a plastic trash bag in it for easy waste collection.
3. Set up a tomato cooling, de-skinning and crushing station. I do this by setting two large bowls side by side. One is where I put the skins, seeds and juices. The second is filled with cool water and ice (to stop the cooking and make tomatoes ready to handle for de-skinning). And then I crush them straight into the biggest pot ever (our 22 qt pot!).
*Note to self- buy ice BEFORE starting tomatoes*
4. Once all of the tomatoes are peeled, squeezed and crushed we used a ladle to remove some of the extra juice (that part is totally optional) and then bring the tomatoes to a boil.
5. Boil the tomatoes for 5-10 minutes uncovered. 5 is the minimum. I let them go for 10 just so that more juice evaporates.
6. Prep the jars. Each 1 quart jar will get 2 Tbsp of lemon juice and 1 tsp of pickling salt. If you use pint jars they get 1 Tbsp of lemon juice and 1/2 tsp of salt.
7. Use a funnel to fill the jars. Seal immediately with a fresh lid and rings. I had to get fresh lids this time around- they are about $2.50 for 12 lids. I ended up filling 19 jars so that is right at $4 for lids.
8. Process the jars. Using a water canner this is 40 minutes per batch.
9. Remove jars and let them cool- after 12- 24 hrs they should have sealed. If not refrigerate and use immediately. All of mine sealed… except this one:
*Sometimes the lid will come off of a can and it will not seal. Sometimes the jar is just no good and the bottom of the jar will crack and separate from the rest of the jar, and the above is the result. Such is life!*
Note: I did my tomatoes over the course of 2 days, one box per day seems to be my limit until I get bored and my feet get tired.
10. Label the jars with what they are and the date. They will last on the shelf for up to one year (if they make it that long, which hopefully they will!)
I ended up with a total of 16 quart jars and 3 pint jars of crushed tomatoes. That comes out to $1.43 per quart and $0.71 per pint.