My tomatoes have finally decided to turn. With 74 plants, I know I will be overwhelmed with preserving them. Hopefully, they will continue their pattern of providing me with manageable amount at a time.
Yesterday, I canned Italian diced tomatoes and tomato juice.
I begin by cutting the bad parts off of the tomatoes first. I know most canning sites say to remove the bad spots after you remove the skin but there is a purpose to my madness.
To remove the skins, place the tomatoes in boiling water for 15-30 seconds. You will notice on some of the tomatoes in the picture below, the skins are already starting to peal off.
Remove the tomatoes and place them in a large bowl of ice water. This will cool them so you can handle them. Once cooled, remove the skin and the seeds.
*Remove the skins and the seeds over a bowl to capture all of the juice. You can use this later.
After you have the skins and seeds removed, dice the tomatoes until you have about 12 cups, saving the drippings, including the juice from the cutting board along the way.
Here is the recipe. (I have never made this recipe however I can attest that it smelled terrific).
12 cups of diced tomatoes
6 Tbsp lemon juice
Place into a large pot and boil for 5 minutes.
In the mean time, prepare the spice mix:
2 tsp basil
1 tsp thyme
1-1/4 tsp oregano
3/4 tsp rosemary
3/4 tsp sage
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
Add the spice mix into the tomatoes and stir.
Prepare the jars. Make sure they are hot. Ladle into jars leaving 1/2 inch head space. Add 1/4 tsp salt (optional. I did not add salt.) If your jar is short of the 1/2 mark, fill with some of the juice from your seed and skin bowl. Remove any air pockets. Process in as boiling water bath for 35 minutes. (I used a pressure cooker at 10-11 lbs for 35 minutes)
Now removing the seeds and skins of the tomatoes can be tedious and time consuming. That is if you are spending the time to ensure you save as much of the meaty parts as possible. I don't spend too much time on this. All of the parts that would typically be discarded goes into a bowl, so if some meaty parts happen to drop in, so be it. I will put it to use.
As mentioned above, I removed the bad parts of the tomato prior to the boiling process. I am an impatient person so there may be times that I will not wait until the tomato completely cools. Removing the bad spots prior to the boiling process, allows me to handle them quickly when they are hot.
Above is the bowl of the "waste". There is too much goodness to throw that down the drain/garbage/compost. I have a a hand cranked food mill that I will use to separate the skins and seeds and to turn the larger meatier portions into juice.
I crank until the skins almost become pasty and nothing more drips from the mill.
When all is said and done, you will be left with some beautiful tomato juice that can be used throughout the year. I also pressure cook the juice for 35 minutes at 10-11 lbs pressure at 1000 feet.
I am a busy mother of two who doesn't have time to check the PH balance of my soil. I believe in try, try again. If it doesn't work the first time, there is always tomorrow. I love passing on what I have learned as well as the fruits of my labor.