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September 12, 2011

Harvest Time - Canning Heirloom Tomatoes

 As many of you know, I was raised in a canning family. My mom canned hundreds of jars of most every vegetable there was, and I can only imagine how much work that was. Me? I limit myself to a dozen jars of Tomatoes, Pickled Beets, Dilly Beans ( yum) and Pickles. Our tomatoes are just about done for the season, but last weekend I think I over did the canning a bit, most likely trying to keep my mind off of the whole Margaret -mourning thing. It was comforting to simply 'put-up' some plain tomatoes, which we love with meatloaf in the winter ( a meal I was raised with, and hated as a child, but now is a nostalgic comfort food - particularly those tomatoes, all salty and slurpy- takes me right back).
 This was a good year for tomatoes, and many of the heirloom varieties I have kept separate, so that I could can them together. Their colors are amazing, in maroon, golden yellow and green.
 Canning properly means that you must have an organized kitchen. I keep lots of towels, tongs, and pots of water boiling with jar lids, so that no moment is wasted between filling the hot, sterilized jars fresh from the dishwasher and from placing them into the processor. I never use Weck jars for tomatoes, since their seal is not as long lived as Ball or Mason jars. But I sometimes use Weck for gifts with such preserves that include sugar or vinegar like pickles, jams or chutney.
PEELING TOMATOES TAKES ME BACK TO MY CHILDHOOD IN OUR VERY SAME BACK YARD. MY PARENTS WERE SERIOUS CANNERS, AND ALONG WITH MY BROTHERS AND  SISTER,  I WOULD HAVE TO PEEL HOT TOMATOES HEATED IN LARGE VATS ON THE FIREPLACE OUT BACK NEAR THE DUCK YARD.  I WOULD COMPLAIN ABOUT THE HOT, SLIPPERY TOMATOES, AND USUALLY IT WOULD WORK, BEING THE YOUNGEST. SUCCESSFULLY RELIEVED OF THE CHORE,  I COULD THEN JUST WATCH MY OLDER SIBLINGS.  TODAY, I AM THE ONLY ONE WHO STILL CANS.




7 comments :

  1. I, too, come from a canning family and still can. I have a pile of tomatoes waiting for me tomorrow morning. My mother still brags of her record 96 quarts or peaches and pears in a single day.

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  2. Loved your canning post. All the colors look so good lined up on the self.

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  3. All your jars look so beautiful !
    Great job !

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  4. Anonymous3:27 PM

    I can my tomatoes too. I used to can them like you do, but have switched to open-kettle like my grandma used to do. woul dlike your dilly bean recipe. Cathy

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  5. Hi, Steve sent me.

    My mother was an insane canner and I,an only child, was her unwilling assistant.

    But... it does have it's rewards and the beauty of your jars is just one of them.

    Jane

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  6. Thanks everyone.
    First, I do use the hot water bath method, not true pressure canning - I hate those things! I still have my mom's two pressure cookers in the cellar, and there they will stay - memories of explosions, mushrooms on the cieling, skin burns and all!
    I hat-water bath them in an open pot of boiling water for 30 min. Tomatoes are easy, anyway. Acidic, with a little added lemon juice and a teaspoon of salt. Nothing like my moms hundreds of jars. I don't know how she did it, plus she worked full time. A lost era.
    The Dilly Bean recipe is everywhere, it originated in the Ball Blue Book, I bet it is on their web site - Google it. If you cannot find it, I will post.

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  7. I have only 7 tomato plants in my back yard but they are so prolific that after the entire neighborhood enjoys them and, of course, immediate and extended families; I still have tons of tomatoes that are in danger of spoiling. For some reason I dread the thought of the canning process, so I turn my tomatoes into paste, sauce and juice. I then freeze them in plastic containers and I’m done.

    By the way, Matt, I totally share your feeling toward pressure cookers. As far as I’m concerned, they are domestic bombs to be avoided.

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