Canning Tomatoes

I do tomatoes several different ways depending on how many tomatoes I have to do that day and how much time I have.  I have one friend that keeps a 5 gallon bucket in her chest freezer.  As the tomatoes come in, she makes sure they are clean and takes the stems off.  She then just puts them in the bucket and lets them freeze.  When she has more time in the Fall, she gets them out to process.  As they thaw, the skins just come right off.  I have never done this, but I keep this as an option if I need it.  If I am going to be a little bit short on time, I bring the tomatoes in, wash them, pull the stems off and quarter them.  I then run them through my food processor.  I leave the skins on and I don’t strain out the seeds.  I just puree it all together and can it just like that.  Later, if I want spaghetti sauce or something else, I grab a jar of tomatoes and start from there.  I also make a wonderful tomato soup and use this type of canned tomatoes in it.  It is really good and you don’t even notice the seeds.    When I have more time, I do it the way I am going to show you today.
The first order of business is to get my jars ready.  You can run them through your dishwasher or some people even put them in the oven to sterilize them.  You can also put them in the canner and bring it to a boil. If you are canning hot liquid or foods, it is better to have your jars hot.  If you don’t have a water bath canner, you can use a large pot that is big enough to put your jars in and have a couple of inches to spare.  I use a large stainless steel pot with a glass lid.  I put an the metal diffuser from my pressure canner in the bottom so the jars won’t break when they boil. I have been told you can put a towel in the bottom as well. I don’t boil my seals until I am ready to use them.
I put the tomatoes in my sink. If you have a lot of tomatoes, don’t fill you sink with them.  Do them in several smaller batches, because it makes it easier to wash them off.  I rinse off the dirt and and leaves that have dried on them. I have my kitchen set up into stations.  If you have helpers, then each helper can take a station.
The next station is the cutting board.  I cut off any bad spots and pull the stems off if they are still attached. When you process the tomatoes in the way I am going to share, you don’t have to remove the cores or the skins. I then cut the tomatoes. The smaller Roma tomatoes only get cut in half the long way. The Amish Paste tomatoes are larger, so they get cut into 4ths or 6ths the long way.
I fill a large bowl with the tomato pieces.
I then move over to my Squeezo Strainer. I have had this strainer since 1987. I have done a lot of applesauce with it, but I often forget about using it during tomato season. It is totally made out of metal, so I think it will last for a long time to come.  When I bought mine, they were fairly inexpensive, but they have gone WAY up.  You can get the same sort of tool called a Victorio Strainer.  We sell these in our General Store.  If you have never used one, you would be amazed at how wonderful they are when doing tomatoes or making applesauce.  I almost feel spoiled using them.    You can also get other size screens for doing other fruits and veggies. I have a berry screen which has much smaller holes to catch the small berry seeds and a pumpkin screen that has larger holes that let the thicker pumpkin meat come through. You put some tomatoes into the hopper and start cranking the handle.  The sauce comes squeezing out of the screen and goes into a bowl (yellow bowl in this picture).  The rest of the stuff like the skin and seeds and cores, goes out through the end (green bowl in this picture).  You use this waste by giving it to the chickens or putting it into your compost.
Here is looking down into the large hopper. The wooden mallet comes with it and you use it to push the tomatoes down into the hole.
Here is the sauce coming out of the screen and down the chute into the bowl. Every once in awhile, I take a spatula and clean off the screen so that the sauce will come through better.
Here is the waste after one time through. This is the waste from the bowl of cut pieces you saw above. I run them back through a second time and get more sauce out of them.
Here is what is left the second time through.
Thinking about canning tomatoes made me remember a funny canning day.  We had a dog whose name was Dixie Darlin.  She was an Australian Shepherd.  As you can see from the picture below my floors are plain old cement. We want to put down a different type of flooring someday, but until then, I am living with cement. It is really hard on my feet, knees and back. I have to take frequent breaks and sit down. Anyway, I had been putting a piece of paper towel down on the floor under the Squeezo because the juices would back up a bit and drip onto the floor. A friend told me that she puts down a bowl instead. So, I decided to do that. I just grabbed one of the dog bowls since it is stainless steel and easy to clean. Dixie (who was still a pup) kept wanting to lick out the tomato juice. I would tell her no and she would lay down a short distance away and lay there and watch the drip until she couldn’t stand it anymore.
Then she would rush over and start licking while the tomato juice dripped on her. The problem is that as she licked the bowl it would scoot across the floor. I would have to push it back into place and then she would have to come over and check it again and get any drops that she missed. 🙂 Goofy dog.  On her 10 month birthday, she was outside playing.  My husband heard a funny noise and turned around to look at her.  She was laying in the driveway.  He went over to her.  She made a couple of funny noises and died.  :*(  We have not idea what happened to her, but she is still missed.

I then pour the sauce into a big stock pot.  I put it on the stove with a low light.  I keep adding to it as I do more tomatoes.  Here is the sauce heating up to get ready to go in the jars for canning.

I will be doing a post later on about actually canning using the water bath method.  If you have questions, just ask in the comments below.
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Canning Tomatoes — 14 Comments

  1. I have always wanted something like that to help with my tomatoes..Oh well..maybe someday. Looks like you are off to a great start with canning.

  2. That sure if a nifty little gadget! I have never seen on before. I could almost smell the tomatoes looking at your pictures….I love how the house smells when working with them.

  3. Marci, I remember making ketchup once when I was a kid – I got to squash the tomatoes by stepping on them in a big galvanized tub. It was so much fun.

  4. It was neat to see your step by step. I enjoyed that.

    That squeezo thing is neat. It sort of works on the same premise as our champion juicer–only not electric.

    And Dixie is so funny!

  5. Your post reminded me of a dear cat we once had. She loved to eat tomatoes and of course, her favorite “outhouse” had a tomato bush growing from it.

    Once I made the mistake of trying to multitask while canning. I had made a batch of pumpkin cookie dough and had started the mixer while peeling apples with the hope that in the time the dough mixed, a few more apples could be peeled. Thick dough that it is, I had set the speed a wee bit higher to accomodate…you guessed it – cookie dough on the door, cookie dough on the floor, cookie dough on my cooking books and in every little cranny and nook!

  6. Cute story with the doggy! I’ll have to remember the bowl tip. I usually just use an old cloth diaper that I lay on the floor that I can toss in the laundry.

    am stopping by to invite you to participate in the The Carnival of Home Preserving.

    It is a Carnival to Share Recipes and How-To’s for Canning, Freezing, Dehydrating (drying), and Root Cellaring of Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs.

    The first edition is posted if you would like to come visit:

    Carnival of Home Preserving – July 14, 2008 Edition

    Submit your blog post (new or one of your archived ones that meets the above description) to the next edition of carnival of home preserving using the carnival submission form.

    The Deadline to Submit is every Sunday 6pm EST

    The Carnival posted by that Monday on the respective Host’s blog.

    Everyone is welcome to join in (beginners and experienced alike).


  7. Marci, I definitely need to look into getting one of those strainers! And so sorry about Dixie. 🙁 From the comments above, it seems most readers missed the part about her sudden, obscure death. Poor babe, she was just a pup.

  8. Freezing your tomatoes works wonderfully! I found this out by accident about 8-9 years ago when we were building our kitchen and I had no place to can. I put all the tomatoes in bags and then into the freezer until the kitchen was finished. Skins will slip right off!

    Now I do it on purpose!!

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