Part of my kitchen was redecorated last week. It is also what kept me busy all of last week. Thankfully I had a light week otherwise – my husband didn’t come home for lunches so no need to cook something, there were no appointments, and we didn’t travel over the weekend. There were still the daily to-do’s, and kids who actually wanted a mom, so things didn’t go as quickly as I had hoped.
Normally I wouldn’t choose to have this many tomatoes at one time that need to be put-up. I think the reasons are pretty obvious. However, the good prices got to me. It has been fairly cool here this year, so the tomatoes have been slow to turn. The heat this past week changed that and there were a lot brought in to the auction. In the end I paid about $3.80 per 25 lb box. My garden isn’t large enough to produce this many tomatoes, so I get them from a produce auction. Some of the tomatoes made it onto the produce stand, but the majority have ended up in my pantry. I am happy about the amount I have canned up, but am willing to do more if – 1. I have enough jars, and 2. the prices are right.
That last part is a post in and of itself. I’m always torn between paying a “fair” amount, taking into consideration time and effort, and paying what I’m wiling to pay based on my need. That is what resulted in the above 21 boxes (you can’t see 5 of the boxes). The first 10 boxes I got because I needed them and was willing to pay more. The last 11 was because I knew that the price was very low ($2 per box) and no one else was bidding. I bid just to get things going. Sometimes it worked and other people started bidding. Other times I ended up with 4 or 8 more boxes.
Over the next few days I’ll share what I did with all those tomatoes and some things I learned. Today we’ll talk about the first 100 lbs of tomatoes. Yes, that number has 2 zeros.
The tomatoes I had were a mix of boxes of red tomatoes and boxes of yellow tomatoes. I wanted the first ‘batch’ to be quick, but also to produce the greatest impact. Crushed tomatoes are something I find fairly easy to do. There are not many steps involved and you can use the water bath canner to process them.
Before starting any canning, I decided to clean my kitchen and stove. This meant clearing off the counters and getting out those cooked on drops of food that have been annoying me for a while. So why clean before making a mess? It was so the ending mess wouldn’t be so hard to clean up.
Crushed tomatoes can be canned in a water bath canner. The pressure canner was being used as a large pot. Later I realized this may not have been the best idea as it is aluminum, which can react to the tomatoes and leave a metallic taste in the final product.
Before getting to the canning of the crushed tomatoes, though, they first needed to be skinned. This is easiest done using boiling water and cold water. They were first placed in hot water (the water bath canner on the right) …
… then placed in cold water. This (usually) allows the skins to easily slip off. I cut out the coure and any bad spots. Thankfully there were not too many bad spots in these tomatoes.
Next, they were quartered and added to the large pot (i.e. the pressure canner). The first few were crushed, with the remaining just being added. They soften and fall apart as they are cooked and stirred.
Placed in hot jars, then in the canner. The result was a colorful counter and 31 jars of crushed tomatoes. This meant I fulfilled my goal for the year. I actually went over the 66 quarts I wanted to have.
Though doing this many jars at once wasn’t the best for housework (my house is still showing signs of it a week later) it was nice to finally have all the crushed tomatoes done.
What is your favorite way to can tomatoes? Which way do you find the quickest?