I have a fascination with learning things and while I have grown up predominantly in the age of commercialism and grocery stores, lately I’ve been learning about processes. While a person can go to the grocery store and purchase canned tomatoes, a person can also grow tomatoes, then can them so that they last through the winter. It’s amazing. A friend showed me how. We did the cold pack method. (There’s also the hot pack method.)
Step 1 – Wash the tomatoes and get them ready to can. Don’t use the ones that have big bruises or other yucky parts. Either cut them out, or they potentially can ruin a whole jar.
Step 2 – Drop the tomatoes into boiling water for about one minute. This makes it easier to peel off the skin, which if left on, create a sensation similar to eating paper (the skins get hard).
Step 3 – Meanwhile, the glass jars can be boiling. They need to be hot before the tomatoes can go into them. Ideally, they could be boiling as the tomatoes are being skinned and cut. In regard to the type of jars to use, try to use regular canning jars. They are created with a type of glass that can withstand heat. If regular glass jar are used (like old mayonnaise jars) they may break.
Step 4 – Peel the skin off the tomatoes with a knife. It should be relatively easy to take these off.
Step 5 – After finishing all the tomatoes, take the hot glass jars out of the canning pot to place the tomatoes in. Notice the smaller pan on the stove? It’s in the upper left hand side of the picture. It is boiling the lids for the jars.
Step 6 – Put the tomatoes into the jar. It’s okay to smash them down, since they will settle. Fill the jar almost all the way to the top. I think we left about half of an inch of space near the top.
Step 7 – It’s important to always use new lids because there is a thin layer of wax-like substance along the inner rim that needs to warm, in order to help seal the jar.
Before the lids are placed into the water, turn every other one so that they have the same side against one another. (Top to top and bottom to bottom.) This helps to ensure that each lid gets warmed. In other words, don’t take them straight out of the box and drop them into the water, as it doesn’t allow each lid to get hot. (And when the jar is opened months later, might be bad.)
Step 8 – After filling and capping the jars, the whole jar is boiled for 35 minutes. (This is for the high altitude of Colorado. Check the time to boil for your own area.) The lids were put on fairly tight, and the water covered the tops of the jars. This time is nice for cleaning up and talking about gardening plans for the next year.
Step 9 – After they have been in the boiling water for the correct length of time, take them out to cool. These were place inside of another cloth to slow down the cooling process. As the jars cool, the whole mixture constricts and pulls the top down. Sometimes this can be heard as a small metallic click.
Step 10 – Label the tops of the jars with the date they were canned, then enjoy them in the winter!