Saturday, October 6, 2012

Canning Tomato Sauce

By Clarissa C. from GreenBeansDiapers

We grow a lot of tomatoes, among other things, and always have an abundance of them! Making tomato sauce is a great way to use up a lot of tomatoes at one time and store them away for later uses.

I start with 20 lbs of tomatoes, choose a variety that is meaty, firm and fewer seeds since you will be removing them later on. A cup of vinegar is also needed to increase the acidity of the tomato sauce for canning.

First bring a large pot of water to boil and also have a large bowl of ice ready to immerse the tomatoes in. I add a pinch of salt to each to lower the boiling temperature and also allow the water to get colder quickly. To remove the tomato skins, dunk them in the boiling water for around 30 seconds to one minute. Then remove them and put them straight into the ice water. This will make the skin split if it hasn't already and cause it to separate easily from the tomato. Peel the tomatoes (save the peels for your composter) and set them aside in a colander to drain. (Save the boiling water, ice water and tomato juices to use in your grey water collection or water your flower beds with.)

When you have all of them done, slice them in half across the width of the tomatoes to remove the seeds. You can use a spoon to scrape out the seeds, but your hands work better. Rinse out any remaining seeds and drain thoroughly.

There are two ways to reduce the tomatoes down to a sauce, on the stove or in a crock pot. I am a busy WAHM so I opt for the crock pot. I put all the tomatoes into the crock pot and put it on the low setting to cook. I use an immersion blender to puree them in the crock, saving me from getting out the food processor :) The tomatoes will reduce down greatly, so be sure to scrape the sides often to keep from burning it onto the sides of the crock pot, or use a liner. After 1-2 hours or so depending on the type of tomato you use, it should be cooked down enough to can. Cook longer or boil on the stove if your tomatoes are very watery. If you want to make tomato paste, cook over night.

You will need about 6-8 pint size canning jars, lids and bands. A jar lifter, funnel and lid lifter come in handy too. Sterilize your jars by washing them in hot soapy water and then boiling them for 10-15 minutes. Bands and lids do not need to be boiled. I like to keep the jars in the boiling water until I am ready to fill them to save counter space and reduce the chances of shattering a jar from adding hot liquid to a cold jar.

Put your lids in a shallow pan of warm water, not boiling; while filling the jars. Using a lifter to remove the jars from the boiling water and a funnel to fill them, leave about 1/2" headspace (space from the top of the jar to the sauce). Wipe the rim clean and put on the lid and bands. Tighten the bands well, but not so much that you couldn't remove with just your fingers.

Place all filled jars back into the boiling water and submerge them so that the tops of the jars are covered. Boil them for around 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes is done, remove them and place them on a towel on your counter to cool. You should start to hear the popping of the jar lids within an hour, but sometimes it can take up to 24 hours for jars to seal. If after 24 hours the jar doesn't seal, you can reboil it with a new lid or just store it in your fridge.

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