Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Canning Tomato Sauce

The first caveat: I am no pro at canning, but it is one of those things my grandma taught me and I like the idea of keeping the tradition alive. Second caveat: get the bible of canning. It is simple and easy to use and if you follow it carefully it will keep your family from getting sick. Although tomatoes are probably one of the safest foods to can because they are full of acid and acidic foods equals safety. Low acidic vegetables, like green beans are much more dangerous and all directions must be fastidiously followed. You can be a little more sloppy with tomatoes, which is good, 'cause sometimes I can be pretty sloppy!

1. Wash your tomatoes. For tomato sauce I use all the variety my garden has to offer.I discovered something peculiar while washing the tomatoes. See the above tomatoes. They floated. See the pear and cherry ones below... they sank. What is with this? Any guesses?

2. Put tomatoes through a food mill/sauce maker. You just slice the larger tomatoes in half and throw the little ones in whole and turn the handle and out pops the sauce in one spot and the seeds and peel in another. Soooo easy. Of course, sometimes I also make stewed tomatoes, which entails peeling all the tomatoes. UGH. I tend to make a lot of sauce. It comes in handy for sauces, soups and stews. And it is easy. Did I mention it is easy?
3. Cook it down. It may take a pot or two, or three, depending on how many tomatoes you have. I had two pots full. You cook it over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until it is the thickness you want. I usually shrink the volume by half. So what was a full pot is now half a pot. It takes quite a few hours and you can wander around doing other chores. Or reading a book and drinking a latte.

4. Fill clean jars with hot water and place new lids in hot water as well.5. Fill jars with sauce (after dumping out hot water,of course!) add1 tablespoon lemon juice to each pint and 2 tablespoons lemon juice to each quart. This just assure the acidity of your sauce. No botulism for me! But did I mention I am sloppy? See my mess.

6. Clean off top of jar with rag and then place the hot lid on top and secure with band.
7. Place in hot water bath or pressure cooker. I did both. For the hot water bath you put jars in a large pot, completely covering jars with water and let them boil for 35 minutes. You should always follow your own pressure cooker's instructions. For mine, you add 4 quarts water and cook at 6 pounds pressure for 20 minutes.

I took all of the peels and seeds out to my chickens. I thought this picture showed clearly how cocky Mr. Red Rooster is. What is it about roosters? Well, at least it leaves all the good stuff for the hens. They didn't waste any time chowing down.
Oscar, one of the barn cats, was very interested in the slop bucket until he saw what was in it. Poor kitty. Better luck tomorrow.


  1. Good for you, TJ! Canning is alot of hard work, but excitingly fun work as well! It is a passion of mine that I have grown to love. Your chicken photos bring back sweet memories.

  2. The only time I ever canned was green beans with my mom and jam once, too.

    I feel a failure for admitting it but I thought it was a lot of work for little return. But I admire people who do it. The whole process suits my beliefs about slowing down and doing things from scratch.

  3. I do not have a clue to why one floats and the other does not?? You will have to tell us if you find out!!

    Thanks for the canning instructions. I don't know how to can but I want to learn!! I love how Mr. Red is too good for the left overs. LOL!!

    And that cat looks like a perfect Halloween decoration!!

  4. TJ, do you have to use lemon in the jars?? Max is allergic to all citrus. Is citrus used in all canning? If so, that's good to know.

    You just made me crave spaghetti and meatballs in a big way! Love ya

  5. Michelle... good question. Read opening line of the post for answer. I do think though that the old fashioned tomatoes have a higher acidic level and are safe without citric acid. Me, I just follow the directions.

    Kym... ultimately I totally agree with you that it is a lot of work for little return. I do it because I want to keep the tradition alive somehow and it keeps memories of my grandma close.

    Andrea, I need to google that. I guess the cherry and pear tomatoes are denser somehow.

    Annette, you are the pro. My hat is off to you, friend.

  6. I thing that the cherrie tomatoes sank because there so densely packed with deliciousness. Hmmm!!

  7. I love canned tomatoes.

    The smaller tomatoes sank because of the law of displacement. The previous post said they were deliciously dense. That's correct - about them being more dense than the larger ones. They don't displace enough water to float. The larger tomatoes have more air space and therefore they displace an amount of water equal to their weight and they float.

    That's enough Mr. Science Guy (or Mr. Wizard for us older folks) for today.



  8. Dan--a whole new side to you! You surprise me daily.


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