Growing up, there was a day or two every August set aside by my mom for a marathon canning session. She would spend all day in the kitchen canning jar after jar of beautiful Red Haven peaches to have on hand all winter long. It seemed like whatever day she decided to can was the hottest day of the whole summer. There she would be, spending all day in the hot, hot kitchen, stove burners on high, boiling water steaming up the entire room, sticky peach juice everywhere. It was worth all the effort however when, in the middle of the winter, she would head to the basement and come back up with a jar, one of these labors of love, adding peaches to the dinner menu and reminding us of the joys of summer produce.
Over the last few years I've started to do some canning every summer. I've been trying out different recipes, deciding what I find worth while, and what I don't. While I haven't followed in my mom's footsteps by canning peaches, I have found some of my own favorites. My top food to preserve so far has been tomatoes. Tomatoes are probably my favorite fruit/vegetable (however you want to classify them). They are so utterly versatile and fantastically delicious when perfectly ripe. You can use them in so many different ways and in all kinds of different foods from countries all over the world. I just love them, so preserving them via canning has been a no brainer.
Canning tomatoes is not a difficult task, but it definitely takes some time, and involves quite a few different steps. Just know ahead of time that you'll be spending a few hours in the kitchen, but that's okay because it will all be worth it in the end, on those cold winter days when you can pull out some preserved summer produce and enjoy the product of all your hard work. It brings a little bit of light to some of those long, cold, dark winter nights.
Tomatoes Whole, Halved or Quartered - Packed in Juice
- 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 lb ripe tomatoes (about 8 to 11 medium) per quart
- Citric Acid or bottled lemon juice
- Salt, optional
Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
Wash tomatoes. Dip in boiling water 30 to 60 seconds. Immediately dip in cold water. Slip off skins. Trim away any green areas and cut out core. Leave tomatoes whole or cut into halves or quarters.
Add 1⁄2 teaspoon citric acid or 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice to each hot quart jar, or 1⁄4 teaspoon citric acid or 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice to each hot pint jar.
Pack tomatoes in hot jars until space between tomatoes fills with juice leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Add 1 teaspoon salt to each quart jar, 1/2 teaspoon to each pint jar, if desired. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.
Process filled jars in a boiling water canner 1 hour and 25 minutes for pints and quarts, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.