Ok, ok, you twisted my paw. this post is about my favorite way to can tomatoes. there, you got me! yes, i used to can only pristine paste tomatoes; san marzano, or amish paste were my chosen few. blemish free, uniform in size, dropped in a hot pot, skinned, jarred and boiled for 85 minutes. you probably know the drill.
but who among us hasn’t chased a few of those slippery-slide-y little buggers around the counter top, only to have them escape onto the kitchen floor the split second after you thought you’d won? who has squirted tomato guts in thine own eyes when pressing the last one into the jar? trying as you might to reach that perfect-lined headspace with terribly unwilling fruits.
Don’t pretend you don’t know what i’m talking about.
There, i said it. and please, don’t get me started on siphoning. you know, it’s when you’ve absolutely made sure the headspace was exactly what it was supposed to be when the jars went into the canner, and…
Where did all that liquid go?
Yes, there’s ways to work toward eliminating all of the above mentioned mishaps. it can be done, and perhaps we’ll talk about it another day. but more importantly, when you’ve got fall breathing down your back, tons of every variety less-than-perfect tomatoes falling from your vines, neighboring farmers begging you to take them, all of them, apple, pear and herb pairings to attend to, pumpkins to pie, and let’s face it; you chop up all those damn tomatoes when you use ‘em any wayz…
i call my tomatoes sauced tomatoes not tomato sauce because while they are cooked down a bit, i would never use this as sauce straight outta the jar. it’s pure tomato flavor and i use them in every way one would use whole or crushed canned tomatoes. they are forever versatile.
i find that tomatoes canned this way have a more robust flavor than the straight-up canned paste tomatoes. any variety of tomato can be used and a mixture is best. you can (and should) use over-ripe tomatoes that are past their eating-fresh days. i throw many of those in the pot after cutting the dark spots completely off. you can also add a few not so ripe tomatoes in too. anything your garden or neighboring farmer gives you at the end of the season will work perfectly.
let’s do this:
as many end-of-season garden or farm fresh tomatoes you can get your paws on, any variety citric acid, sea salt, pint & quart mason jars
food mill (i love mine!)
1. place a wide-bodied saucepan (big enough to fit all of your tomatoes) on medium high heat. saucepan should be non-reactive, which means stainless or enameled iron.
2. quickly chop up about 1 & 1/2 pounds of tomatoes – large chunks. put them directly in the pot and press them down with a wooden spoon. bring this mixture to the boil.
3. continue to add approximately 1 & 1/2 pounds of chopped tomato, making sure it comes to the boil before adding the next round. you will want to chop as you go so that you do not lose too much of the precious tomato juice.
4. when all of your tomatoes are finally in the pot, boil for 5 minutes.
5. run all of this through a food mill, i use the medium disc as it holds back all of the skin and most of the seeds, but still allows it to be pulpy.
6. put all of your milled tomatoes back into the pot and bring to the boil. reduce heat and simmer until reduced by just 1/3rd. as this simmers down, prepare your canning pot and jars.
7. once you’ve reduced tomatoes by 1/3rd they are ready to be jarred.
for each pint jar add 1/4 teaspoon citric acid and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, for each quart jar add 1/2 teaspoon citric acid and 1 teaspoon sea salt
*fill hot jars with sauced tomatoes to 1/4 inch headpace. hot water bath process pints for 35 minutes and quarts for 40.
i consider 1/2 cup of my sauced tomatoes to be one medium tomato and use it in all manner of curries, stews, casseroles, bean dishes, soups, etc. i find that pints are perfect for this type of use. the quarts i generally use for pasta sauce, adding spices, dried tomatoes, olive oil, capers, chile, et al, and i will cook it down even more as i prefer a thicker tomato sauce for my pasta.