Friday, August 12, 2011

A Lesson on Canning Tomatoes (Can It Forward Day!)

Are you overrun by tomatoes and zucchini? Canning and preserving foods are a great way to make sure that your abundance of vegetables doesn't go to waste. It is also a great way to use fruit and vegetables that are in-season when they're cheapest, most flavorful, most nutritious, and travel the shortest distance to get to you. And don't forget, August 13th is National Can It Forward Day! You can learn more about National Can It Forward Day (and get canning tips and instructions) on the Ball Canning website.

Today I went with two of my friends to a local farm to participate in a canning workshop.
The farm is actually where my friend gets her farm share. (You can see pictures of my co-op farm where I get my farm share here.) I've done canning before with my grandmother and also during my farm internship, but I felt like I needed a refresher course. I also needed reassurance that this was doable for my life/space right now. I would highly recommend that you pick up a book on canning if you want to give it a try. Don't mess with botulism; learn what you're doing first!

Before we arrived, our workshop leader washed all of the jars in warm soapy water. We learned that if you are going to boil the filled bottles for 10+ minutes that you don't need to sanitize them. Tomatoes should be boiled for 10 minutes, so just washing the jars was fine.


First we dumped boiling water over a (plugged) sink full of Roma tomatoes in order to loosen the skins. Then we peeled the tomatoes, cut off the ends, and removed any bad spots before putting the whole tomatoes into the glass jars. Scraps were saved for the compost.

When the jars were full up to the neck, we wiped off the tops and necks of the jars with a cloth, put in a teaspoon of salt, and put on a lid and ring/band. (The lids were nearly-simmered in a small pot before-hand to make sure that the rubber on them got a little gummy.) Then we loaded the jars onto the wire canning "basket" or rack inside of a large pot. After covering the jars with water, we set the pot on the stove and waited for the water to boil.

The jars needed to be in boiling water for 10 minutes and then could be taken out. There was some debate as to whether we should turn the jars upside down or not. We ended up turning them, although I think one class member might have been offended. Three of our bottles did not seal, so we will need to refrigerate those and use them within the next few days. The other jars are sitting now for a few days to make sure they seal nice and tight. My friend will pick ours up when she goes to get her farm share next week! I'm so excited to put them in our "pantry" (aka the basement) and see the literal fruits of my labor. Aren't they beautiful?

We had a wonderful time and are planning on getting supplies and trying it out by ourselves next week! I'll let you know how it goes, especially if/how I am able to get supplies on the cheap!

Happy Canning!

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