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Canning Tomatoes

 

searchThe sign read, ‘Canning Tomatoes $15.’ A 5-gallon bucket was filled to the rim with tomatoes of all sizes. All dusty, with garden dirt. I’d planned to buy a few tomatoes to eat, but I could almost taste Mom’s vegetable soup that she made from home canned tomatoes when I was a kid.

 

“These were picked a couple of hours ago,” said Mr. Smith. I couldn’t resist. He transferred the tomatoes to a brown cardboard box. “Here, take more.” He piled another dozen tomatoes in the box.

 

Some tomatoes needed to ripen a few days. I washed the ones ready to can – those that were dead ripe or had cracks near the stems. No need to look at a recipe book. Mom taught me the basics of canning many years ago.

 

I filled my biggest pot half full of water and searched my cabinets for empty quart jars. I found only three, but I had plenty of pint jars. I started to the basement to get my blue hot water bath canner and remembered that last time I use it the bottom was so warped that I’d gotten rid of it. Maybe my kitchen pot could work as a canner.

 

Using a long handled spoon, I dropped tomatoes into the boiling water and when the skins cracked open, I plunged them into cold water. After all the tomatoes were scalded, I washed the pot and refilled it with water for a boiling water bath.

 

The tomato skins slid right off. I filled three quart and four pint jars with cored and quartered tomatoes. I added a little salt to each filled jar, wiped the rims clean and dry, and screwed on scalded two-piece canning lids. There are many ways to can tomatoes. I learned my way when I stood on a kitchen chair beside Mom, and now admiring my filled jars, I felt a connection to her that felt good.

 

I set the quart jars into the pot of almost boiling water and the water barely covered the top of the jars and almost overflowed the pot. Then I pulled out my vintage Ball Blue Book for Canning and Freezing, copyright 1956 and read that the water level should be 1-2 inches above the can tops. Surely, my 18-quart stockpot would work.

 

It wasn’t easy transferring boiling water and filled jars to another pot. Although this pot was plenty deep, it was big enough for only six, not seven, jars. So I decided to do the quarts and then the pints. The glass lid for this pot had been broken several years ago so I ripped off a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil and made a lid, with the edges hanging over the pot. I set a timer for 45 minutes, the processing time, adjusted the temperature control to keep the water boiling, and walked away for maybe two minutes.

 

What was I thinking? I could hear Mom say, “Be sure you have everything you need before you start.” Which would’ve included a real canner with lid. Steaming hot water dripped from the foil and also ran down the sides of the pot onto the ceramic stovetop. What a mess. For 45 minutes, I stood by the stove wiping up water, and then did the same for another 35 minutes to process the pint jars.

 

Those seven jars of tomatoes will make really good vegetable soup. And there are more tomatoes to can. But first, I’m going shopping – for a canner.

 

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One Response

  1. I have one of those black speckled canners that are dirt cheap at the box stores…works like a charm and came with all the necessary accoutrements for canning. AND, it’s perfect for making stocks in.

    Like

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