Something about the end of summer strikes some sort of primal fear into me to squirrel away all of the delicious fruits and veggies in season so that I can have them for the winter. In most cases, this isn’t possible because I don’t have a magic wand, but tomatoes are possible to store for the winter. As with last year, I spent a Saturday doing my version of storing food for winter hibernation, canning whole peeled and sauced tomatoes. ONE HUNDRED POUNDS WORTH OF TOMATOES to be exact.
I did the tomato canning process by myself last year (more on that here) but it was SO MUCH easier with someone else. C and I had a production line going towards the end, and we ended up with 19 quarts of Whole Peeled Tomatoes and 20 pints of tomato sauce in about 7 hours. Last year, I had a smaller yield and it lasted all the way until July, so I am confident that we both have enough for the winter and no one will get scurvy.
How did you do it? You might ask. All of that is below. While it was a long (LONG) day, I am so happy we did it, and I was so lucky to have C stick it out with me.
8AM – Already at the farmers market, doing the rounds to find the best deal on tomatoes. Romas work best for whole peeled canning, and Romas and Beefsteaks work great for Sauce. We ended up with 25lbs Romas, 25lbs Beefsteaks, and 50lbs Striped Heirloom Romas. (total cost for tomatoes ~$90)
10AM – Prepare the cans. I did this by running them through the dishwasher on high. Other options include boiling them in a pot for a bit (what I did last year) or putting in an oven for a bit. Since we had a ton of cans, I figured a mass sterilization approach would be best.
11AM – Start the sauce. For the sauce, we used a massive (9 gallon) stockpot. We blanched, iced, peeled, and cored roughly 40lbs of the tomatoes, 25lb Striped Roma and ~15lb Beefsteak. Before blanching, we scored an x in the bottom of tomatonce cored. Once peeled, we broke them up into chunks and put them in the pot and brought to boil. We continued in this fashion until all the tomatoes we wanted to use were in the pot. It took a while.
1PM – Mill the sauce. Once we had all of the tomatoes in the pot and at a boil, we ran the sauce through a medium mesh of the food mill. This is no ones favorite process. It takes forever to mill the sauce down and it doesn’t look like much is happening even though it is. Very frustrating. Slowly but surely we got through the tomatoes and had our strained sauce.
2PM – Simmer down the sauce – This is another long process in a series of long processes. The sauce needs to simmer for a long while to get some of the water out of the sauce. It is certainly a patience game. Once we got down to the end of simmering process, we prepared the canning lids for processing by putting them in boiling water and removing the pan from heat.
2:40PM – Fill all of the prepared pint jars with the sauce and top with lids and rings and process in large pot for 45 minutes.
3PM – Start blanching and peeling the potatoes for the whole peeled tomatoes. As the tomatoes were blanched and peeled, we put them right into the prepared quart jars with two sprigs of basil and two tablespoons of lemon juice/quart.
4PM – As we got enough jars to fill a processor, we would just start boiling the cans, so from ~2:30 on we always had jars in the processor ~8/time and for 45 minutes each. We had two processors going at once, which was crucial to getting the processing situation over with.
5:30 – Last jars go into the processor! Marathon day of conning complete. Victory. Now for the getting the tomatoes out of the nails. That process takes forever.