So many tomatoes…so little time to can
I was talking to my sister who lives in Iowa this morning and she was telling me about the abundance of tomatoes her garden is producing. That is terrific. Here in Michigan, sadly, we (as in my own household, not the entire state) aren’t having the same “problem.” Our two tomato plants, purchased as seedlings from a reputable local farm, are anorexic-looking and have produced 3 or 4 small tomatoes. It is sad. I think it’s the soil. Any advice about amending the soil to improve tomato growth next year? I never plant tomatoes in the same place two years in a row, so it’s not a rotation issue.
Anyway, perhaps you have a plethora of tomatoes. Or, perhaps you have an accessible farmer’s market where you can purchase 1/2 a bushel of them for $12.00. I did that the other day, which makes my own tomato-situation a little less sad.
Canning season is upon us, and if you aspire to never buy a can of tomatoes from the grocery store again, it’s time to get hot and busy in the kitchen. It’s easy to can tomatoes, especially if you’re lazy and don’t bother to peel them. If you detest tomato peels, or find that peeled tomatoes are so much nicer that it’s worth it to peel them, check out this video for instructions. However, despite the fact that some people think that cooked tomato skins are “not very nice to eat,” (to quote the video), I think that tomatoes are “not very nice to peel,” so I don’t peel them. Instead, I use an immersion blender to pulverize the peels into tiny pieces.
One of my favorite tomato canning recipes is the Pizza Sauce recipe from Simply in Season. (Click here for the recipe.) This makes 12-14 pints and is very tasty. I use it on pizza and pasta in the winter. It’s also a good stand-in for when a recipe calls for canned or bottled pizza or pasta sauce.
Another favorite is the Blender Tomato Ketchup recipe from The Joy of Cooking. You just blend everything together in a blender instead of using a food mill, which most ketchup recipes call for. (Yes, I’d recommend using an immersion blender for this one!)
Blender Tomato Ketchup
makes about 10-12 pints
In manageable batches, process in a blender until pureed, about 5 seconds each batch. (Or put in a large pot and use an immersion blender.)
24 lbs. ripe tomatoes, peeled and quartered
2 lbs. onions, quartered
1 lb. red bell peppers, cut into strips
1 lb. green bell peppers, cut into strips
Remove to a large nonreactive pot. Stir together well and bring to a boil, stirring often, over medium heat. Boil gently, stirring often and thoroughly, for 1 hour. Stir in:
9 C. cider vinegar
9 C. sugar (I use 6 cups.)
1/4 C. canning or pickling salt
Tie in a moist square of cloth (or a tea strainer) and add to the tomato mixture:
3 T. dry mustard
1 1/2 T. sweet or hot paprika
1 1/2 T. whole allspice
1 1/2 T. whole cloves
2 3-inch cinnamon sticks.
(I also like to add 1 T. celery seed and 1 T. celery salt.)
Continue boiling gently and stirring until the mixture is reduced by half and mounds up on a spoon with no separation of liquid and soilds. Remove and discard the spice bag. Can while hot; or let cool, then cover and refrigerate for up to 1 month. (Though I honestly don’t know what you’d do with so much ketchup in your refrigerator!)
Another recipe I recently tried, and found it quite easy and simple, was Stewed Tomatoes. Once in awhile I find an old-fashioned recipe that calls for stewed tomatoes and I wish I had some ready. So, this is a small recipe that just makes about 5 quarts. It is from Putting it Up with Honey.
makes about 5 quarts
6 qt. (about 10 lbs.) tomatoes, peeled (if you like!) and chopped
3/4 C. chopped green peppers
3/4 C. chopped onion
1 C. chopped celery
2 T. celery salt
2 T. honey
Prepare the canning jars. Mix all the ingredients together in a large pot and heat just enough to dissolve the honey. Pack into sterilized jars to within 1/2-inch of the tops. Process in a boiling-water bath for about 45 minutes.
I’ve also posted other tomato canning recipes. Here’s a great recipe for Red Salsa and another for Caponata. Enjoy! Listen to some good music while you can, at least before the jars start moving around in the pot and making a giant racket.