Nothing screams summer on the farm like a garden overflowing with tomatoes. Our favorite way to preserve tomatoes is by canning. Homegrown or local, home canned fresh tomatoes are our favorite. This year, we added some tomatoes that we picked up at a local farm stand and worked away on our home canned fresh tomatoes.
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My mom grew up on a farm. The garden was a large part of their food and their time during the summer. Now that we are starting up our farm, we are excited to take her experiences growing up and build on them or simple just bring them back into our routine. We have been working and dreaming about our gardens but one important thing on my mind is learning skills in the kitchen. I cook from scratch regularly (I really enjoy just being in the kitchen) experimenting with seasonal recipes and perfecting my sourdough baking, we’ve added to the farm steadily this year, but canning was a skill I have done in the past but don’t regularly utilize. I am ready to return to my roots!
We love keeping canned tomato products in the pantry at all times. Tomato paste, diced tomatoes with green chilies, fire roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce- all of these are basics that we use in a lot of our from scratch meals. It is very easily one of the most used products in the kitchen besides meat.
Usually tomatoes are pretty simple to grow in our area. This year was a bit of an exception with a very dry summer spent mostly in a drought. We managed to grow some ourselves but one day when my mom, Ila and I were out antiquing, we stopped off at a local farm stand and another farm shop. We picked up tomatoes, peas, watermelon and loads of pumpkins. Nothing beats local, farm fresh produce.
We decided with the tomatoes, we would can them to use up at a later time and to really decide how we like to keep tomatoes. Now like I said, we love all different canned tomato products but we figured to keep things simple this year we would just can tomatoes in their own juice. They can then be turned into whatever we want later.
This turned out to be such a great idea and I am sure this will become a yearly way to process tomatoes for us. It kept the processing simple while we had other busy summer activities happening and makes it where the tomatoes are easy to use later. They can be turned into any sauce, salsa or juice. Add some jalapenos (which we were able to grow an abundance of this summer) and we have our tomatoes with green chilies.
Now another idea if you are deep into summer duties around the farm with no time to process food is to freeze your tomatoes now, and once fall and winter have settled in, spend a few quiet evenings in the kitchen canning up your tomatoes. I love this idea too because we did have to squeeze this in and if we had a large harvest to can, it would’ve made for a more stressful time. I love spending a lot of my fall and winter in the kitchen. I really develop more recipes during this time because things around the farm slow down a bit.
I wanted to be sure and add this to the blog. I love to have all of our old fashioned recipes on here for both y’all and us! I frequently pull up my recipes on the blog while making them- usually because the baby has played with and lost or destroyed the recipe card in my box haha!
Home Canned Fresh Tomatoes
Salt (1/2 teaspoon pint, 1 teaspoon quart)
Lemon Juice (1 tablespoon pint, 2 tablespoons quart)
Large Stock Pot or Water Bath Canner
Trivet or Rack
Knife or Air Bubble Tool
Ball Blue Book
The first thing that we did was we washed and dried all of our jars and made sure they were prepped and ready to go. We also pulled out our lids, rings and other tools needed to can. This just made the whole process simpler because we were not digging for anything.
We made sure to warm our jars with hot water first and let them sit in it while we prepped the tomatoes. Busted jars are discouraging so we wanted to avoid this!
We got one pot on the stove with water and brought it to a boil.
Once boiling, we added all of our washed tomatoes into it to blanch. Then we got a bowl of ice water ready. I watched the tomatoes and as the skin began to roll up, I pulled the tomatoes out of the boiling water and immediately dropped them into the ice water. I repeated until all tomatoes were done.
We immediately changed out the water in the pot to fresh and put it back on the stove to heat to a simmer.
Next we took each tomato and first removed the skin. Then cored the tomato and cut out any bad spots. We also quartered our tomatoes but you could leave whole, half or even dice. An important tip here is to hold the tomato as you remove the skins and core over the bowl you are putting your good tomatoes in so that any juices fall into it and are saved to be added. Don’t waste that yummy tomato juice!
We also saved all the cores and skins too. These could be cooked down or dehydrated to make tomato paste!
Next we packed our jars. We used wide mouth pint jars but we wish we had used wide mouth quart jars. Either is fine, this is just preference and does change how much lemon juice and salt goes into each jar.
For pint jars, we add one tablespoon of lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt to each jar. For quart jars, we add two tablespoons of lemon juice and one teaspoon salt to each jar.
Then we packed in our tomatoes. You want to pack tightly. This is one mistake we made. Push the tomatoes down (carefully) in the jar letting the juices fill the space. We filled to the first rim of the jar which is about 1/2 inch headspace.
Next we just removed any air bubbles down the sides of each jar, wiped the rim with a wet towel and then added our lid and ring fingertip tight.
With the rack in our canner, we added the jars into simmering water making sure they were fully submerged. We brought the water to a boil then covered the canner with a lid and started timing for an hour and a half.
Once done, we turned off the heat and allowed them to settle for a minute. Then removed with jar lifters and placed on a towel until the next day.
This was a fairly simple canning process and we will be preserving our tomatoes with this home canned fresh tomatoes year after year. Now I am on the hunt for a larger canner and possibly more than one!
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