August 26, 2011 by Sara Kreidler
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about my first attempt to can crushed tomatoes.
I learned a lot on the first go-round (like that I crushed the tomatoes more than I really wanted to, exacerbating the separation of tomato pulp and liquid), and I felt even more comfortable with the process on the second take with Toby (having a second set of hands, much less the hands of someone you love, make everything easier, doesn’t it?). So the process recited in this post is tweaked a bit from the first post, is less rambling and more in the form of an actual recipe.
As I mentioned above, we put up over 1 bushel of tomatoes, which yielded 25 quarts (it probably would have been 27, but we used about 2 quarts worth of the tomatoes to make chili that afternoon. The recipe below calls for only a half bushel (which yields 10-12 quarts) because I’m assuming that not everyone wants to put up a full bushel in one day.
That said, you can easily increase or decrease the quantity; the only thing that can’t be messed with is the amount of citric acid or lemon juice in each jar. The picture above is of my citric acid, which I am storing in my recently acquired and much loved vintage blue Ball pint jar.
Empty half bushel boxes and an empty CSA crate. So satisfying.
- ½ bushel canning tomatoes
- Citric acid or bottled lemon juice
- Wash the jars in the dishwasher.
- While the jars are washing bring a large stock pot of water to a boil. Cut a small x on the bottom of each tomato. Drop 6-8 scored tomatoes into the boiling water at a time and blanch for about 1 minute. Use a handled strainer to remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and transfer to a bowl of cold water. Once tomatoes have cooled enough to handle, peel off the skin (start at the x mark, this makes for easier peeling) and cut out the tomato’s core. Transfer the skinned and cored tomatoes to a large bowl. Repeat until all of your tomatoes are skinned and cored.
- Also, while the jars are washing, prep your canning area. I like to put down old (clean) kitchen towels and hot pads so I don’t have to worry about scorching the counter. Get your jar lifter, lid wand and wide mouth funnel ready. I use a chopstick to remove air bubbles, but you can also use a small plastic spatula or plastic spoon (just don’t use a metal utensil, which can scratch and/or crack your jars). Make sure your rings and lids are ready too. You’ll also need a ladle.
- Remove hot jars from dishwasher, place inside canner and fill the canner with hot water so that all of the jars are full and covered by 1 inch of water. Put the canner on your largest burner and bring the water to a boil.
- Bring a small pot of water to a simmer. Add the lids to the simmering water; do not boil the lids.
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.
- Remove the small pot of simmering lids and the medium pot of boiling water from the stove and place on hot pads near your jar filling station. Place the bowl of tomatoes near the filling station. Have your lid wand, funnel and a ladle handy.
- Remove 1 jar from the canning pot and dump out the water. Add to each empty quart jar 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid (or alternatively, 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice). Place the funnel on top of the jar and transfer tomatoes into the jar, crushing them gently with your fingers as you fill the jar in order to release the tomatoes’ juices. Ladle in the hot water from the medium pot, leaving 1/2 inch headspace at the top of the jar (the bottom line of the screw marks on the jar is a good guideline for ½ inch of headspace). Take the funnel off of the jar and use a chopstick to remove the air bubbles; add more hot water if needed to maintain ½ inch of headspace after the jar is de-bubbled. Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp paper towel. Use the lid wand to remove 1 lid from the pot and place it on top of the jar. Screw the ring onto the jar until it is finger-tip tight (you don’t want it to be too tight or the air won’t be able to escape during processing). Repeat with each jar until all of the jars are full.
- Return the jars to the boiling water in the canner. The water should cover the jars by at least 1 inch. Place the lid on the canner and process at a full boil for 60 minutes (see notes below regarding USDA recommended processing times). Remove the jars from the canner and place on a towel on the counter. Do not disturb the jars while they cool.
- Label the sealed jars and store in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year. If any of the lids fail to seal, the unsealed jars should be refrigerated because they are not shelf stable.
- The Ball Blue Book calls for 45 minutes of processing for whole tomatoes in water, and 85 minutes for tomatoes in their own juices. Since our tomatoes were a bit of a hybrid of those two methods, we settled on 60 minutes. I’m comfortable with my 60 minute processing time because I properly acidified my tomatoes and did some research on processing times. Is that what the USDA recommends? No, and you should follow the USDA’s processing times, not mine.
- As I noted in my first tomato canning post, my tomatoes separated. Marisa at Food in Jars recently wrote a great post about tomato separation, and it is well worth reading. This time, I noticed that my tomatoes separated, but it’s not nearly as severe this time as last, probably because I didn’t crush the tomatoes as much as I did the first time. That said, the separation doesn’t bother me. If it bothers you, though, follow the advice Marisa provides regarding how to avoid separation.