Tomatoes have long been known to be a healthy source of lycopene, the photochemical which makes them red and provides significant antioxidant properties, but new research has shown that this antioxidant power can be boosted even more by simply cooking the tomatoes.
Canning the tomatoes from your garden harvest is an excellent way to not only preserve food for winter meals, but to make those meals healthier.
Most varieties of tomatoes of tomatoes can well, but it is best to use firm, ripe red-orange tomatoes that are not quite ripe enough to eat raw. These are more acidic than completely ripe tomatoes and will can better using the water bath canning method. If you plan to can tomatoes that have been purchased and you are not sure of the variety or acidity content, add a little lemon juice to each jar to be sure that there is enough acidity for safe canning.
Hot or cold pack. Process in a boiling water bath.
If you need to add lemon juice for extra acidity, add 1 tbsp for pint jars, 1.5 tbsp in 1 1/2 pint jars and 2 tbsp in quart jars. Salt can also be added for extra taste. Add 1/2 tsp for pint jars, 3/4 tsp for 1 1/2 pint jars and 1 tsp in quart jars.
Wash pint, 1 1/2 pint or quart jars in hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly and keep jars hot until needed. Prepare lids according to manufacturer’s directions.
- Wash tomatoes in cold water.
- In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil and keep hot.
- Immerse tomatoes into the boiling water for approximately 30 seconds.
- Remove from the boiling water and immediately immerse in very cold water.
- Remove the skins, remove the cores and cut into halves or quarters.
Cold Pack Method
- Pack tomatoes into one clean, hot jar at a time, pressing the fruit until juices start to flow.
- Add lemon juice and salt if desired, and release as much air ass possible by pushing tomatoes down with a spoon.
- Wipe rim of jar and attach the lid.
- Place jar in canning and continue filling the remaining jars the same way.
- Process in a hot water bath.
Hot Pack Method
- Place a few tomatoes in a large pot and mash lightly.
- Add remaining tomatoes and heat to a boil, stirring occasionally so that they do not scorch.
- Boil for 5 minutes.
- Ladle hot tomatoes and juice into clean, hot jars one at a time, leaving 1 1/2 inches head space.
- Add salt and lemon juice if desired, .
- Release excess air and wipe jar rim clean.
- Fill and attach lids to remaining jars.
- Process in a hot water bath.
Hot Water Bath Canners
Water bath canners are specially designed for canning fruits, pickles, condiments and relishes. They are usually made of lightweight aluminum or enameled metal, and contain a rack that holds the jars off of the bottom, so that water can circulate around the jars during processing.
The rack should have dividers so that the jars do not touch and break while being removed. These racks are sold separate from canning pots, but the rack must fit the pot that you intend to use.
A water bath canner should be at least 4 inches taller than the canning jars. It must be tall enough so that jars on the rack are covered by at least 1-2 inches of water and have at least 2 inches above the water to provide boiling room, and must have a lid to control evaporation.
Water Bath Canning
- Prepare and pack tomatoes as directed above, or in your favorite recipe.
- Fill water bath canner aprox. half full with hot water.
- Lower closed filled jars into canner and add enough water so that the water is about 2 inches above the jar tops.
- Cover the canner and bring to a full boil.
- Adjust heat to maintain a full boil.
- Begin timing process indicated on your recipe or as adjusted for altitudes of 1000 ft or higher. ( Chart can be seen here)
- Be sure water continues to boil and the lid of the canner is in place.
- When processing time is complete, remove jars, and set on cooling racks or a double layer of toweling.
- Cover hot jars with clean dish towels and let cool for 10-12 hours.
Self sealing lids often make a pinging sound as the seal forms. This usually happens in the first 20-30 minutes of cooling, but before you place your jars on your pantry shelf, be sure that the jars are in fact sealed. After 12 hours of cooling, the jar lids should be concave and unable to be pressed down any further.
Your canned tomatoes are now ready to use in all of your favorite recipes.
Published in: Gardening