Thursday, October 30, 2008

too many tomatoes

At 4:00 on Sunday afternoon Nate sits at the computer and apparently checks the weather. At 4:01 Sunday afternoon he leaps out of his chair and yells, "It is time to harvest!!!!" What?! Apparently he learned it was going to come too close to freezing that night and would certainly freeze the next night. So for about two hours we harvest our tomatoes (remember when I told you Nate planted 12 plants?) We manage to get most of our crop in before dark (and before we are just tired of harvesting - Grace has now decided it would not be fun to be a farmer anymore, she's leaning more towards being a mathematician these days). So what do you do with lots of tomatoes?

I decide that we won't be able to eat them fast enough so it is time to "put them up" or to "can" them.

You start by cleaning the tomatoes. In this case I cleaned somewhere between 12 and 15 pounds. We had about 5 different varieties - some big, some small, some yellow, some red, some purplish, some teeny, some ginormous, you get the idea.

Then after a quick knife action (you slice a little "X" on their bottoms), they are off for a dip in boiling water.
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After that, let them land in some cold, chilly water. You'll notice their skins start falling off.
Take them from the water and slip the rest of the skin right off. Now its time for a big decision: stop and can the tomatoes or make tomato sauce and then can that. I decided to go for the sauce. This meant I had to seed the tomatoes and then go ahead and actually make the sauce. I must tell you, this took a long time.

Next it is time to "can." This was actually done in a jar, not sure why they call it canning, but they do. I used a funnel designed especially for this purpose. After the jars are as full as they should be, you put on the lid, and then the ring. The ring holds the lid in place while they are "processed."

What? Processed? Yes, that is the fancy way of saying you are going to seal the jars of whatever deliciousness you put in them. This is done in a large pot, sometimes called a canner.

The canner is fitted with a kind of rack that sits on the bottom. This holds the jars in place so they don't rattle around while processing. Processing is really just boiling the jars in a lot of water for a long (and usually specific time).

After the specified time has elapsed, use your special canning tongs and remove the jars from the water.

The jars need to sit at room temp for about 24 hours. During this time you may hear a popping sound, but don't worry as this is exactly what you want to hear. It is the jar's way of letting you know it is sealed tight and whatever you spent all your time making and then canning will be fresh and ready for you.

At this point you ponder if it was all worth it. All I'll say is that the sauce so tasty, I certainly haven't found one to compete with it at the grocery store.


Ollievie said...

You are wonder woman. Wow . . . a lot of work! Please tell me it produced more than the 6 jars we see in the pictures!?

Brittany Owens said...

Oh how I miss canning. We had about a half acre garden growing up, and we canned just about everything. Strawberry jam, raspberry jam, tomatoes, salsa, green beans, pickles, etc... It might take a long time, but it is so worth it when you eat it. So much better than anything that comes from a store. My verification word is gawersh. Kind of sums up what you did.

emily said...

whew! good for you! One day I'll try canning. Truly. Just..... not yet. Not while I have a tiny kitchen and no garden of my own.

But nice work on your end!

Natty by Nature said...

That is one of my favorite childhood memories. My mom canning salsa and spaghetti sauce in the fall.