Preparing Tomatoes for Canning

Posted in Uncategorized on April 29th, 2011 by Wendi – Be the first to comment

I just got finished processing 13 baskets of tomatoes this last week.  Everyone needs to know how to process tomatoes.  In this blog post, I’ll show you how to prep your tomatoes and can them in chunks.  The only different with sauce is that you would blend the softened tomatoes and cook them down more so there is less water in it.

Let’s begin:  Bring a pot of water to boil.  This will be used to blanch and peel the tomatoes.  Do this first so that while you’re prepping the tomatoes the water can start to heat up.

Aren’t these tomatoes beautiful?  Do you know that I will NOT eat a fresh tomato?  I can’t stand the taste of them.  But, I’ll eat anything made from a tomato.  I’m a little strange.  I do try a tomato once or twice a year to see if anything has changed. :)


Get all of your tomatoes washed off.  I got these straight from my garden.  I pick my tomatoes and put them in a colander that I bring to the garden with me.  Makes it much easier to rinse and start eating.  I do this with all my veggies from the garden.


This is just a picture of my pretty tomatoes.  I grew all heirlooms this year.  This are a paste tomato except for the big fat one, that’s a Campbell’s brand heirloom that I picked up at a plant sale this spring.  I’m learning how to harvest seeds this year.


Once your tomatoes are washed, go ahead and with a knife, cut an X in the bottoms of the tomatoes.  This will help you peel them easier once they’ve been blanched.


Fill up a big bowl or a sink with cold water and add some ice to it.  You’re going to want the water as cold as possible when you put the hot tomatoes in it.  That will stop the cooking process and make the tomatoes easier to handle.  It’s hard to see the ice in this picture but there is some in there.


Once the water in the pot is boiling, put about 10-15 tomatoes in and let them boil for about 1-2 minutes.  Depending on how ripe your tomatoes are–leave them in longer or shorter.  You’ll see the skins begin to crack and split or you’ll see the X start to curl.  Pull the tomatoes out and put them in your ice water.


Ahhhhh……Those maters feel so much better now that they’re in the ice water.  You can see how the skins are just falling off the tomatoes.  Sometimes that will happen.  Other times, if the tomato isn’t quite ripe, you’ll have to hand peel it.


In this picture, you can see how easy it is to peel.  Grab the tomato so the X is facing up, and just pull down the skin with your fingers.  Easy peesy!


I like to get the seeds, core and some of the liquid out of the tomato before I put them in jars.  Here you’ll see one half that I’ve seeded and cored and the other half before working my magic.


Now, just give it/them a rough chop.

Put the chopped tomatoes in a pot and bring them to a simmer.  You’re reducing the liquid a little more and softening the tomatoes.  I’ve found in all my years doing this that cooking them down a bit makes for a prettier jar of tomatoes and you can get more in the jar.  It’s one more step than canning the tomatoes raw, you can do that too if you’d like.  I’ve done it many times.

You will need to add some lemon juice to your tomatoes before you process them in a boiling water bath.  Nowadays the tomatoes aren’t as acidic as in the past and little beasties are developing to withstand regular tomato acidic.  By increasing the acid with lemon juice, you’re making sure the little beasties (very academic) can’t grow in your stored jars.

1 Tbl in a pint

2 Tbls in a quart

I usually put the lemon juice in first so I can see that I did it.  I just go around with my bottle of lemon juice and a tablespoon and fill up all my prepared jars.

Ladle in your tomatoes, wipe the rims and put on your warm lids and rings.

Process quarts 40 minutes in boiling water bath. Pints 35 mins.

Let cool on cooling rack over night.  Remove rings and wipe around threads near the rim.  Label with type and date and put them in your storage.


Using Gadgets to Can Tomatoes

Posted in Uncategorized on April 29th, 2011 by Wendi – 2 Comments

I did something different this year when canning tomato sauce. I used my steam juicer and food strainer.  Let me tell ya, it was so much easier.

My family uses tomatoes mostly in the form of sauce, specifically pasta sauce. So, I decided to can my tomatoes in sauce form this year. I was able to eliminate the need for a blanching bath for the tomatoes because I used my steam juicer.

Below you’ll see the 4 out of 5 baskets of tomatoes I canned this year. Each basket has approx. 30 lbs of tomatoes in it. So, in all I canned 150 lbs of those little red jewels of love. :)

I want to introduce you to two new pieces of equipment that I used this year. Below is a picture of my steam juicer all set up to receive my bounty. I highly recommend owning one of these juicers and buy one that is stainless steel. They’re a little more expensive, but well worth it in the long run.

Mine is a Mehu-Liisa steam juicer. It’s about the most expensive one out there and the only reason I bought it is because it’s made in Finland and I served a mission for my church in Finland. So, I chose to support their economy. Mehu Liisa means “more juice” in Finnish.

I just bought a juicer for my mom from Amazon for $120.xx which included shipping. I’m sure you could find it cheaper. I just chose not to search high and low for one.

So the concept of the steam juicer is that it is in three pieces. The bottom piece is filled with water and put on the heat source. As the water heats up it turns to steam which streams up through the middle piece and hits the tomatoes (or other fruit/veggies even chicken) sitting in the strainer basket. As the steam hits the produce, it naturally cooks the produce and draws out the juices which fall into the middle piece. The middle piece has a hole which tubing is hooked to for the juices to drain out. The cooked produce is in the strainer basket and the juices are collected outside of the steam juicer to be used or thrown away.

Below is the bottom piece and has water in it. I have let mine go dry a few too many times, thus the brown spots on it. Gotta stay on top of the water supply.

Here is the middle piece. Notice the hole in the middle where the steam is allowed to stream up to hit the strainer basket. The middle piece also catches the juices that fall from the cooked produce.

The top piece is the strainer basket. You’d be surprised how much produce can be put into this part. Plus as it cooks down, you can add more.

Here’s a picture of Lucy washing a basket of tomatoes. My sink is large enough to actually fit an entire basket of them.

She washed them and I cut them into quarters and put them in the strainer basket.

Here you can see the tomato juice pouring out of the juicer into a pot. It’s hot stuff.

Here are the tomatoes on their way to being cooked down.

I tried something else that worked really well too. I filled my huge roaster pan up with quartered tomatoes, onions and about 6 cloves of garlic and a hefty sprinkle of Italian seasoning. I put the whole thing in the oven at 400 degrees and roasted them. I went in and stirred them around a few times. It took a good 3-4 hours to cook them down but boy they sure did smell good.

Below is a picture of the roasted tomatoes, onions and garlic cooked down and ready for the food mill.

This is the food mill. You can do a google search for a Victorio strainer to see all the pieces and parts. Basically you have the hopper on top which feeds the produce into the strainer part. As you turn the handle it moves the produce straining out the peeling and seeds creating a perfectly pure sauce.

It’s a bit of a mess but you can see the process. The sauce comes out the side and the peelings and seeds go out the back. I saved the peels and put them in the dehydrator. After they were dried, I put them in the food processor and turned them into a tomato powder. Now I can use them to make a paste or flavor a stew…etc.

Once the sauce is done, I fill add 2 tbl lemon juice to quarts, fill the jars with sauce, wipe rims, put on lids and rings and process them in a water bath canner. 40 min for quarts, 35 min for pints. (1 tbl of lemon juice for pints)


You can refer to my blog post for step by step instructions on how to can tomatoes using a blanching bath. storageskills.blogspot.com/2009/08/preparing-tomatoes-for-canning.html

I ended up with 30 quarts of sauce, 23 quarts of tomato juice and the dehydrated peels. What a blessing to have such a wonderful bounty.


Canning Pickle Relish

Posted in Uncategorized on April 29th, 2011 by Wendi – Be the first to comment

I used the recipe for pickle relish from the Ball’s Blue Book of Canning.

You never can go wrong with the BBB.

Below is a picture of the cukes, carrots and onions soaking.

These are the dry ingredients. Pickle spices and sugar. Add the vinegar later when adding the veggies.

Draining the soaked veggies.

Rinsing the veggies.

After rinsing the veggies, you need to squeeze out as much of the water as possible.

This is the pickle spices, sugar and vinegar boiling before adding the veggies.

Cooking the relish. I think it’s a shame that those beautiful, brilliant colors of the fresh veggies are completely changed to something completely different and muted. Oh well. That’s what it’s gotta be.

After cooking the veggies and spices on the stovetop, load them up in jars, wipe rims, add lids and rings and process in water bath canner.

Here are a couple of my beautiful jars of relish. I think it was a great project for all those extra cucumbers I had this summer.

I think it’s so awesome to think that one can bottle up and preserve hard work from the summer to enjoy in the middle of winter. It’s a sweet reward for all the sweat and toil.



Posted in Uncategorized on April 29th, 2011 by Wendi – Be the first to comment

My across-the-street neighbor let’s me pick as many pears as I want each summer.

The tree wasn’t as plentiful as last year,

but it still provided plenty for my family as well as a friend to put up.

This year I tried something a bit different and I’m really pleased with the way they turned out. This year I used my steam juicer and Victorio strainer to cook down the pears to make pear sauce as well as pear juice.

Below you can see the hopper of the steam juicer full of quartered pears. I washed them all first and just cut them up and put them in the juicer–stems, seeds, peels and all.

You can see how the juicer is set up with the tubing coming out and a pot set below to catch the juice that will be extracted from the pears.

Yes, all those pears from the first picture cooked down to half.

All that juice is in the pot below.

I took the cooked pears that are all hot and smushy and put them in my strainer. With a turn of the crank, out one side came the sauce (like applesauce) and the other end came the stems, seeds and some of the peelings. Just like that.

Here’s a full picture of the strainer. The sauce will come out of the left side there and the stems and seeds will come out of the tube that you can’t see. Great picture huh? :)

I put the sauce in the jars and process them in a boiling water bath for

the same time as applesauce.

Here is a picture of all the juice I collected in the pot below the juicer.

Look at all that beautiful juice. It’s just perfect and pure. I processed the pear juice just like apple juice. I was able to use all the bits and pieces of those free pears. YAY!!!


Canning Shredded Pork

Posted in Uncategorized on April 29th, 2011 by Wendi – Be the first to comment

I’m having a bit of trouble with my pictures loading so until I get that figured out I’ll just explain the beginning of the experiment.

I was at the Sam’s Club last week and noticed their country spare ribs were on sale for $1.42/lb. My husband loves when I slow cook them in barbecue sauce and serve either as a sandwich or over rice. But, then I got this great idea. So, I bought three packages.

I am loving my new Nesco digital pressure cooker. I rubbed some bbq rub on the meat and put one package into my cooker. I put a little water in the bottom and a steamer insert inside onto which I put the meat. I set the cooker for 45 minutes. At the end, the ribs were perfect. The meat fell off the bones when I was shredding it for pulled pork sandwiches. That was about the easiest meal I’ve ever made.

I cooked the other two packages the same way and had quite a bit of meat that I could then can.

Here is most of what I cooked and shredded from the pork ribs. We did eat some for dinner the night I bought them. This is one of those big disposable plastic containers nearly full.

I filled up three and a half quarts with the pork. I had saved the broth from cooking the pork and used that as the liquid. The jar furtherest to the right looks a little different because I used water to fill that one. I ran out of the broth.

Make sure the rims are wiped down really well because the pork was a bit greasy and you want the lids to seal on to the jars successfully. I used a little soap on my cloth just to make sure. I know of some people who will use rubbing alcohol or white vinegar on the rims. I haven’t found that necessary, but with the greasy food, I just wanted to do a little more.

Inside are the three quarts and one pint of pork. I filled the canner up with three extra quart jars of water. I processed the jars at 10lbs pressure for 90 minutes in my pressure canner.

I’m pretty thrilled with the outcome of this particular experiment. I bought the meat for $1.42/lb. We ate dinner from it and I got at least three more dinners from it. Unfortunately, I did not have the foresight to record how many pounds I bought. I want to say about 7-8 lbs altogether. A couple of the packages were bone-in so they weighed a little more for a little less meat. But the rib bones are not that large.

You may wonder why there are a few bottles of water in the canner. I’ve learned to do this for a couple of reasons.

#1 – keeping the canner full helps to cut down on the jiggling inside, especially in a water bath canner

#2 – the water will be sterile and can be used for emergencies

I don’t usually have a less-than-full canner, but when I do, I just fill up some quart jars with regular tap water and slap a lid/ring on it. No big deal.


Finding Jars

Posted in Uncategorized on April 29th, 2011 by Wendi – Be the first to comment

Canning as a way of food preservation is making a come back. With all the difference pesticides and other food additives, many are choosing to can their own food in order to insure a quality product for themselves and their families. With the increase of popularity of the skill, the increase the demand for canning jars and supplies.

I thought I’d give a few tips on gathering jars as inexpensively as possible.

1. Free is always best.

- Ask for them. Especially the older generation. Many canned religiously but with the ease of getting food and their increased age, they don’t want to be bothered anymore. (Great source to teach canning as well)

-Put out a request on Freecycle and Craigslist in your area. Remember to check areas that surround your area. Be willing to travel.

I must throw in a story or two of my experiences with Freecycle and Craigslist.

Freecycle – I threw out a request on my Freecycle group for canning jars. I was rewarded with a response from a lady that was moving and wanted to get ride of all her canning supplies. She gave me about 500 jars of different sizes as well as lids, tools and a Victorio Strainer. FREE!!! HELLO!!! Major score!

Craigslist – I saw an ad in the FREE category. I had to travel about 30 minutes North but was rewarded with 70 jars plus lids and rings. Again…a great score.

They’re out there, you just have to keep your eyes open.

2. Not free but cheap.

- Craigslist – I’m finding that “jar owners” are tuning into the fact that they can make a little money off of their jar cache. Don’t let them take advantage of you. Remember you can buy a whole box of brand new jars, lids and rings for less than $12 usually. (quarts always cost the most) I usually will spend as much as .50/jar but that’s it. .50/jar for quarts and less than that for pints and half pints. Be respectful but bargain with them a bit, especially since they’re not offering lids and rings.

Another Craigslist story – I saw an ad for an All American pressure canner and a lot of about 70 jars for $100. It sat their for a while but then I couldn’t stand it any longer and bought it all. Everything was nearly new. The husband was getting rid of his wife’s canning collection. That canner retails for just under $200 and the jars would’ve easily been around $50 brand new. Good deal!

-Keep your eyes open at yard sales and flea markets. You may pick up one here and one there, but usually it’ll be closer to half a dozen or more. The same rules apply for pricing as above.

3. Stores.

Boring, I know. Usually Big Lots has the least expensive prices on jars. They carry the Golden Harvest brand of jars. Walmart also carries jars during the summer (canning season) for decent prices. This year Ball and Kerr put out coupons for jars, you can use those at the Walmart.

Usually the grocery stores will be the most expensive. They typically carry jars all year long. That’s your last resort though.


–When you go to pick up your jars, make sure you run your finger around the edge of the rim to check for any chips or cracks. You’re not going to want to pay for those.

–Give the jars a good looking over to check for cracks or funky spots. I’ve had a couple of jars straight out of a new box that weren’t completely blown out, they had a indent in them. Thus making them completely unusable.

–Most stores will put their canning supplies out around late April or early May. Prepare be saving some money throughout the winter to bump up your supply when they’re available again. By the first of November here, Walmart was sold out of all their jars here in NJ. Down South, you’ll probably find them earlier in the year and later into the Fall and even Winter. Canning is more of a way of life down there. Kinda like Mecca for me. :)

Hope that gives you some ideas. Just keep your eyes open and no doubt you’ll amass quite a collection. Good luck!


Night Canning

Posted in Uncategorized on April 29th, 2011 by Wendi – Be the first to comment

A couple of weeks ago, I bought 140 lbs of ground beef and chicken tenders.  I had three pressure canners going at one point.  Two of them, my big ones, I used outside on my Camp Chef stove.  I have two Camp Chef stoves. One with two burners and the other has three burners.  I’ve also used my turkey fryer burner on which to can.

Below you’ll see a couple of pictures of my late night.  Actually I think it was only about 8 or 9 pm when these were taken.  You can see the jars of beef and chicken behind the steam from the first picture. It was quite chilly outside.  That did help the jars cool down quite fast.

This picture is of my Presto pressure canner.  Sad story:  The canner had 13 minutes left to process.  I asked my 11 year old son to go out and check on the pressure gauge for me.  He came back and said it was close to 15 lbs pressure.  I told him to turn it down a bit.  Well, he turned it down too much and the pressure went below 10lbs pressure, so we had to start the WHOLE THING over again.  Brought it back to 10lbs pressure and set the timer for 75 minutes.  UGH!!

The rest of the sad story is that I ruined my canner.  With it being on the heat for nearly three straight hours caused it to bow out and I had to throw it away.  It was a great canner.  I highly recommend the Prestos.  I got that one specifically because it’s made to go on glass top stoves, which I have.  So, I’ll have to get another big Presto before the next big canning venture.

This picture is of my All-American canner cooling down after a batch.  The beef next to it are also cooling and because it’s so cold outside, you can see the steam rising from them.

I do recommend having some sort of alternative way of cooking and canning.  If the power goes out, the meat I have in the freezer won’t be lost because I’ll be able to thaw it and put it in the jars and can it.  Plus, just being able to cook something hot and soothing in case of an emergency will be quite a blessing.  Make sure you have plenty of propane to run it.

I canned 40 lbs of the chicken = 33 pints.

Canned 40lbs of ground beef = 43 pints (3 didn’t seal)

I froze the other 20 lbs of chicken.  Cooked up 20 lbs of ground beef and put in freezer in 1 lbs freezer bags.  Made the other 20 lbs into meatloaves.  I think I got nine meatloaves.


Pressure Canning Meat

Posted in Uncategorized on April 29th, 2011 by Wendi – Be the first to comment

1.  Wash and prepare jars, lids and rings.

2.  Optional:  add 1 tsp salt to bottom of jar.

3.  Pack raw meat tightly into prepared jars within 1/2 inch of top of jar.

4.  Wipe rims of jars clean.

5.  Put on warm lids and rings.

6.  Read instructions for pressure canner.  Fill with about 4 quarts of cool-warm water and 1/4 cup of white vinegar.  The canner should not be filled more than 1/2 way with water.

7.  Put filled jars in canner.  Usually you can get 9 comfortably in canner.  If you have a tall canner, place rack on top of first layer of jars and put the next layer in.  This can only be done with pint jars or smaller.

8.  Put lid of canner on and close tightly.

9.  Turn burner on to high heat.  The steam vent (small pipe on top of canner lid) will start to show steam as the water heats up.

10.  Once the steam has a steady output, time it for 10 minutes before placing the weight on the vent.

11.  Once the weight is on the steam vent, pressure will begin to build.  The pressure valve will pop up which indicates that the canner is full of pressure.

12.  Keep canner on high heat until the weight starts to rock or jiggle.  If the rocking becomes violent, turn down the heat until the weight continues with a gentle rock.  You’ll be able to hear it rocking.

13.  Don’t worry if a small puddle of water accumulates under the weight or around the pressure valve.

14.  If you have a canner with a gauge, build pressure to the amount indicated in the recipe.  The weight on the steam valve will also rock.  Turn down the heat to maintain the correct pressure.

15.  Once the correct pressure is reached, begin timing.  For pints of chicken and beef (no bones) the pressure is 10 lbs for 75 minutes (at sea level).  For quarts of chicken and beef (no bones) the pressure is 10 lbs for 90 minutes.

16.  Once the time is up, turn off the heat and let the canner depressurize.  DO NOT TOUCH IT!!!

17.  Once the pressure valve has dropped and is flush against the canner, you can open the lid.

18.  Do not try to cool the canner other than just naturally.

19.  The jars inside the canner are HOT.  You’ll see that the liquid inside the jars is boiling.  The boiling will continue for a couple of hours.

20.  The the jars cool on a cookie rack over night.

21.  After the jars have cooled, remove the ring and wash each jar with hot soap and water.  Dry and label them with what’s in the jars and the month/year.