Preserving the Bounty: Learning to Can Tomatoes

by Kimba on September 14, 2011

in In the Kitchen

If we’re friends on facebook (if not, why?), then you may have heard me shouting giddily (is that a word?) that I canned some tomatoes the other day. This was truly a new adventure for me, because my only experience with actual canning involves hungrily opening up the jars of tomatoes, beans, pickles, etc. that someone else has lovingly preserved.

My mother-in-law has canned her own food since forever and brought her equipment (and her tomatoes!) to my kitchen to teach me the process. She will surely kill me for posting her picture. And yes, that is a jar of Benefiber on my counter. Also coconut oil, gluten-free pretzels, a video game charger, and a few tomatoes that seem to have escaped the sink bath. I’m awesome like that.

Unfortunately, canning and preserving food is kind of a lost art. Probably because it’s become so inexpensive to buy these staples at the grocery. But with food prices going up so quickly, it only seems logical that growing and preserving your own food is going to come back into fashion. Does that mean I’m actually on the cutting edge of something?

I’m not so silly as to try and write a “How to Can Tomatoes” post for you. You’d be much better off checking out Simple Bites for a tutorial. That’s basically the method that we used. Except I wasn’t worried about keeping the tomatoes whole, so we quartered them and really jammed them in the jars. I’ll be chopping and smooshing them up to make chili and spaghetti sauce this winter, so they don’t need to look pretty.

There is something really comforting about knowing that I have some jars of home-grown tomatoes on the shelf. I’m a big fan of having a stash of food in the pantry in case we get snowed in by a blizzard, clobbered by a hurricane or we’re attacked by zombies and we can’t get out to the store. In any of those cases, I’ll be prepared to whip up a batch of sauce or soup with what I have on hand. Unless, of course, the zombies cut the gas line and my stove doesn’t work. Then we’ll be eating tomatoes out of jars which no one but me will enjoy, but if you get hungry enough, right?

End of zombie talk.

How pretty are all those jars? It took about 2 hours and we put up 18 quarts of tomatoes. It’s not nearly as difficult as I imagined. Actually, it’s quite easy.

Do you preserve any of your own food? Are you interested in learning?

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1 Jenn @ Frugal Upstate September 14, 2011 at 10:03 am

Woohoo! That is so awesome. And there is nothing else quite like the feeling of satisfaction you get when you hear those canning jars “ping” is there?
Jenn @ Frugal Upstate´s last blog post ..Frugal Food Series: Potatoes, Pastas and Grains

2 Kimba September 14, 2011 at 3:15 pm

You’re right! That’s an awesome sound!

3 Jamie @ charmingly ordinary September 14, 2011 at 10:24 am

Yay, you! I have been wanting to learn for quite some time. Popping over to that tutorial now… 🙂

4 Lilia September 14, 2011 at 10:37 am

#1 – that’s awesome. I wish someone in my family knew how to can so they could teach me. I also wish they had a garden to let me eat their harvest.
#2 – I love the zombie talk. My husband and I refer to zombies like it may happen any day now and my family thinks we are nuts. But hey, it’s fun! Enjoy your tomatoes this winter (hopefully not in a zombie apocalypse)

5 Kimba September 14, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Amen. No zombie apocalypse!

6 Claudia September 14, 2011 at 10:41 am

This is great – I am getting ready to can tomatoes for the first time – I planted a few plants and they are heavy with ‘maters, so maybe tonight or tomorrow 😀

7 Pam @ diy Design Fanatic September 14, 2011 at 11:43 am

I hope you inspire some of your readers to try canning. This year(for the first time) we planted a garden and did some canning, as well. It really wasn’t that hard. We made two batches of salsa and they came out great! And, yes, home canned jars are really pretty!
Pam @ diy Design Fanatic´s last blog post ..A Cozier Family Room

8 Kimba September 14, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Thanks Pam! I hope so too. It was so much easier than I thought. I don’t know why I was so intimidated for so long. My sis-in-law makes and cans the best salsa. It’s spoiled me for all other kinds.

9 Emily E September 14, 2011 at 12:01 pm

I just started canning this year. I’ve done some jam, salsa, and sauces. I also did a bunch of hamburger that I couldn’t fit in the freezer. It’s such a liberating thing for me to learn how to do it and know that I have the skill if I ever REALLY needed it.
Emily E´s last blog post ..The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima: Review

10 Kimba September 14, 2011 at 3:18 pm

That’s exactly how I feel, Emily. It’s liberating.

And I REALLY want to try pressure canning now too!

11 Bekki September 14, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Yay for you! I have been canning since before I can remember at my mothers side. Now I grow and preserve as much as I can. I’m to lazy to go to the store and my food tastes better anyway(at least thats what my husband tells me). I have rows and rows of food in the panty. It’s so satisfying to know exactly where the food comes from and exactly what is in it. Canning really isn’t hard it just takes time and work.

12 Ellen September 14, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Yes, actually just learning myself!!! today I am buying a canning kit…been waiting for it to go on sale lol 🙂 Your tomato jars look fabulous!
Popping over to the tutorial now 🙂

13 Lisa September 14, 2011 at 2:51 pm

The way the jars look is my favorite part of canning.Yours look lovely! I did make jelly once. I then gave all of the equipment to a friend, who was thrilled. We won’t go into the cost of that jelly, ’cause, yes, I went out and bought a lot of canning goodies, thinking it would be my new hobby.
Lisa´s last blog post ..Project Procrastination or Blame it on Blogs

14 Brown Eyed Girl September 14, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Oh, boy, those look lovely, I am sure they will be extra yummy in your sauce/soup/salsa/whatever you use them in this winter. Your post exudes giddiness, girl. =) I am going to have to play catchup and try it next year. Woo hoo to you, though!

15 Julie McGuire September 14, 2011 at 3:34 pm

I could literally gulp down your new canned tomatos! What a great idea for a hostess gift, Christmas basket, teacher’s gift! The list goes on!

Thank you for sharing!

Julie McGuire´s last blog post ..Speaking the “Homework” Language

16 Qwendy September 14, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Did I tell you I went to elementary school with a Kimba? I say this as if we have been friends forever, but since you are kind enough to blog, it feels like we have chatted before.

I started canning last year, and it’s addictive. Applesauce is my favorite to can and I cook the apples in the crockpot, could not be easier!

17 Queen Mommy September 14, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Good for you! I’ve been canning tomatoes for about 4 years now, I think. Actually, I’m still working on it….got 3 big baskets of romas at the Farmer’s Market. Usually I do spaghetti sauce (oven-roasted) and diced tomatoes. I think it’s a TON of work, and leaves my kitchen in shambles, which makes me not want to cook anything, but I keep doing it because I like having those jars on the shelves for the winter. I did get a pressure canner this year though, so that makes it go a little quicker….no processing quarts for 90 minutes in a water bath canner anymore. We also usually do applesauce every year, and I’ve done cranberry apple butter too. YUM.

18 liZ evans September 14, 2011 at 10:40 pm

I just canned for the first time last night. My mom taught me how to can tomatoes. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be and they look so pretty their in the jars. I am definatly going to do it again.
liZ evans´s last blog post ..Project Run and Play– Feather Tutu Tutorial

19 September 14, 2011 at 10:41 pm

I canned with my mom when I was growing up. I just recently got back into it. I hope to have a small garden next year and live off the land. 🙂

20 Rose September 15, 2011 at 4:09 pm

WOW SOOOOO pretty and red! Yep I can my own things to. Actually my Mother in Law taught me many years ago. A couple weeks ago I canned 13 quarts of chicken soup and that was my first experience with canning meat. I love to can tomatoes though and didn’t get to can not one jar this year. 🙁 Our tomatoes just didn’t make enough to can any. I had to water them to keep them alive and they did not like that chlorine.
Rose´s last blog post ..Sewing Table

21 leslie September 15, 2011 at 4:35 pm

I’m all about learning to do this! I need to grow my own tomatoes and other things…. my husband has been totally into those end of the world tv shows latley and with a baby 2 months away I’m seriously stocking up on like EVRYTHING!!!

22 Lazy Budget Chef September 15, 2011 at 7:30 pm

I blogged about my fear of canning too. For as many people who in the past have told me I was being silly, there were a bunch of people who commented on that post that they were intimated too. Last year I made refrigerator pickles and freezer jam. This year when life gave me too much fruit and cucumbers and not enough freezer space, I had to face my fear and can jam. Fortunately jam wasn’t as hard as I thought. This weekend I’m getting pickled!
Lazy Budget Chef´s last blog post ..Do You Take Vitamins?

23 Jennifer S. September 15, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Oh, man! Those jars of ‘maters look so delicious! Good job. It is encouraging to hear it did not seem that difficult. Don’t you just love coconut oil???
Jennifer S.´s last blog post ..Wedding Anniversary Memories

24 kim October 18, 2011 at 12:26 pm

I enjoy what you guys tend to be up too. This type of clever work and coverage! Keep up the great works guys I’ve you guys to my own blogroll.
kim´s last blog post ..healthy rig

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