Tomatoes, precious. They have started rolling in. And you know what?! I really need to get to these bitches before the fruit flies do. They are just waiting, waiting, waiting ’til one of these organic-grown, locally sewn, beautiful tomatoes ruptures a nice crack in the skin, then BLAMMO!! Fruit fly extravaganza.
Summer is busy. Llike crazy busy. With Isaiah working his farm and me working for a farmer in the area running his farmer’s market stands, we are eyeballs deep in fresh produce. Not to mention, we decided to farm an additional plot of land this year! (more on that later. i hope. )
When you work with local, fresh food, you are most likely poor in funds, but very rich in amazing food. In order to take advantage of this currency you have to plan to eat your produce daily (sorry Burrito Place, I will hit you up in the winter), process the stuff as it comes out of the field (i. e. get that basil in water man!) and get creative in your recipes (ummmm, what else can you do with cabbage besides eat it with fish tacos?!).
Enter canning! I learned to can (to preserve food) several years ago from an amazing local woman that has since taught me all sorts of valuable food-related shit. Lindsey, thanks babe. My first canning experience involved vast amounts of produce, over a half dozen women, and hours and hours of slicing, chopping, stuffing, boiling, and cooling. While I still love this scale of canning, I have come to understand that canning is also doable on a weekday evening on a very small, single batch basis thanks to this rad chick – Food In Jars via my pal Sarah. So, here we go.
Oh wait, another thought. While I think that everyone should try canning once in their lives, I do believe that it is NOT cost effective if you don’t have access to large quantities of produce. So for someone like me, canning is almost a necessity. For someone like you, if you interact with your local farmers and can by large quantities of produce (e.g. a lug of strawberries), then rad!! And cost effective! But just keep in mind that if you want to make and can your own Strawberry Basil Jam (and are going to do a small batch and are not married to a farmer and aren’t drowning in strawberries so hard that you now hate the taste of strawberries) then expect to do it because you think it’s way rad instead of thinking that you are going to save moula.
So, here we go.
Prep your jars. I used 4 quart jars. Heat water in your canner to a simmer, add the jars and let boil for a bit. You can throw the rings in there too. You are trying to sanitize your jars. Remove the jars carefully and set on a clean dish towel. Keep all that water in your canner boiling. To sanitize the lids, you can place them in small saucepan, cover them with water, and simmer over very low heat.
Core the tomatoes and score the bottoms with an X. Fill a large bowl with ice water. You are going to use this water to stop the tomatoes from cooking after you blanch them. Also, fill a kettle with water and bring that to a simmer as well. You are going to use this in your canning jars.
Add tomatoes to the boiling water and blanch for 1-2 minutes. If you are working in batches, make sure that the water returns to boiling between dunks. Put the hot tomatoes into the ice bath immediately. When they are hot enough to handle, peel the skins off and set the tomatoes aside.
This next step is muy importante! (That’s ‘very important’ to those of you that are not as oh-so-bilingue as myself. Don’t worry, that’s totally a word.) Add 2 Tbls. of lemon juice to all of your clean canning jars. You have to do this because tomatoes are not acidic enough on their own to be safe canning in a water bath canner. Fill you canning jars with the warm tomatoes to the neck, then pour the hot water from your kettle in; leave 1/2 inch of headspace at the top. I am SO TERRIBLE at this part. I never get it right. Using a chopstick or other long skinny device, get the air bubbles out of your jars. Then fill with more water if necessary. (If you look closely at the picture below, you will see that I didnt get the liquid right.)
Place lids and rings on your jars and process is boiling water bath for 45 minutes. Take them out with a jar grabber thingie, and let cool on your counter. You know that you kicked ass and did good when the center of your canning lid pops down, and doesn’t pop back up!
If you want more on canning, check this out!
If you really want to learn how to can, I also recommend taking some time to learn about it (other than this post). Because while it is very easy, there are some important things you should know.
Adios! (see, totally worldly.)