Monday, August 23, 2010

A canner, exceedingly canny . . .

A canner, exceedingly canny,
One morning remarked to his granny,
"A canner can can
Anything that he can;
But a canner can't can a can, can he?"

Our garden is bursting with wonderful, juicy, tasty tomatoes; more than we could hope to consume before they begin to spoil.  I plan to preserve them in a number of ways so that we can enjoy them in the coming months.
The latest batch is getting canned for tomato sauce . . . which means that I am removing the skins, seeds and most of the juice.  The juice is reserved for hot liquid to pack them in.
 So here’s how it goes . . . canning ‘maters

Because tomatoes are high-acid, they can be processed using a water-bath canner as opposed to a pressure canner.

  • Wash the jars and caps in hot, soapy water.  Rinse well.  Dry the bands and set aside.Heat jars and lids in a saucepot of simmering water.  Allow jars and lids to remain in hot water until ready for use, removing one at a time as needed.  
    • Fill boiling-water canner half-full with hot water. Heat water just to a simmer and keep hot until used for processing.

    • Select fresh tomatoes - use firm tomatoes free of cracks, spots and growths. Gently wash tomatoes; drain
    • Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 to 60 seconds or until skins start to crack. Remove from boiling water. Dip immediately into cold water.

    • Slip off skins; trim away any green areas; cut out core. Leave tomatoes whole or cut into halves or quarters.

    •  For tomatoes packed in water, place tomatoes in a large saucepot, adding just enough water to cover. Boil gently 5 minutes.

    • Remove canning jar from hot water with a jar lifter; set jar on towel. Add 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice to each pint jar, 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice to each quart jar.

    •  Carefully pack tomatoes into hot jar, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Ladle boiling tomato juice over tomatoes, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt per pint jar or 1 teaspoon salt per quart jar, if desired.
    • Slide a nonmetallic spatula between tomatoes and jar; press back gently on tomatoes to release trapped' air bubbles. Repeat procedure 2 to 3 times around inside of jar.

    •  Wipe rim and threads of jar with a dean, damp cloth. Remove lid from hot water using a lid wand. Place lid on jar, centering sealing compound on rim. Screw band down evenly and firmly, just until resistance is met-fingertip tight.
    •    As each jar is filled, set into the boiling-water canner. Water in canner should be kept at a simmer. After all jars are filled and placed into the pot make sure the water covers the two-piece caps on the jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.

    •  Put lid on canner. Bring water to a boil. Start counting processing time after water comes to a rolling boil. Process pints 40 minutes, quarts 45 minutes, at a gentle but steady boil for altitudes at or below 1,000 feet above sea level.
    • When processing time is complete, turn off heat and remove canner lid. Let canner cool 10 minutes before removing jars. Remove jars from canner and set them upright, 1 to 2 inches apart, on a dry towel to cool. Do not retighten bands. Let jars cool 12 to 24 hours.

    •  After jars have cooled, check lids for a seal by pressing on the center of each lid. If the center is pulled down and does not flex, remove the band and gently try to lift the lid off with your fingertips. If the lid does not flex and you cannot lift it off the lid has a good vacuum seal. Wipe lid and jar surface with a clean, damp cloth to remove food particles or residue. Label. Store jars in a cool, dry, dark place.

    You know you are addicted to canning when you believe the words blanching, de-seeding, and rolling boil have a musical quality to them.

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