For decades, I have studiously avoided canning. The reasons shifted, serving as a litmus test of where I “was at” in my culinary development, as in:
Canning? How Uncool.
or Canning? You’ve got to be kidding. I’ve got No Time for That.
or Canning is Too Scary. The terms “process bath” and “botulism” freak me out.
and Canning? A messy ordeal. I’ll roast and freeze, thank you.
These days, with a little more time on my hands, and a lot less freezer space, I understand the wisdom of canning.
And now, thanks to Maggie, the relative ease.
Tomatoes are the only vegetables that do not require a pressure cooker to safely can, just a “hot water bath.” So, on to Demystifying the Process.
All that you need is the Right Equipment—mason jars and lids, stockpots, canning tongs, wide funnel–and a couple of leisurely hours. Your ingredients are simply your assortment of lovely, ripe tomatoes, and kosher salt. Fresh basil, too, if you are so inclined.
Maggie points out—and rightfully so–that it’s much easier on you if you work in small batches. Don’t get overwhelmed; you don’t have to make a day of it. We began our process at 9am and had everything complete, tidied up by 10:45. Not bad!
1. Place tethered canning rings on the bottom (this makeshift rack cushions the jars)of your 12 qt. stockpot and fill with water. Bring to a boil.
2.Have a 3 qt. pot of water heated and ready to blanche your tomatoes. Have a bowl of chilled water ready to halt the cooking, post-blanche.
3. Have canning jars and lids cleaned with hot, soapy water, rinsed and dried. Place 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt into each Pint Jar (1 teaspoon salt if using Quarts)
4. Select ripe tomatoes, wash, and dip into boiling water for 30 seconds–or until skins crack. Plunge into icy water and remove. Core the tomatoes, and slip off the skins. Cut into quarters and place into a 3-4qt. saucepan.
5.After you have cored, skinned, and quartered all your tomatoes, bring them to a boil.
6. Using the wide mouthed funnel, ladle the tomatoes into each jar. Place a sprig of fresh basil into some, if you like. Leave about 1/2″ gap at the top of the jar.
7. Carefully wipe off the outer rim of the jar, place seal and ring on top and tighten.
8. Lower jars into stockpot. The jars shouldn’t touch one another, or the sides of the pot. About 2″ of water should be above the tops—add more hot water if necessary. Return to a boil. Process for twenty minutes–counting your time from when the water begins boiling. (in our case, that took about two minutes.)
9. Remove jars with canning tongs. Set out on the counter to cool. After a few minutes, You will hear a distinctive POP–that’s the seal being made.
10. That’s IT! Tomatoes for sauces, soups, stews, a wonderful, candied taste of summer that you will surely enjoy in the dead of winter!