Our first few tomatoes have come out of the garden, and they’ve been absolutely wonderful! But, at present we do not have a huge overabundance of tomatoes coming in, that’ll likely occur in the next few weeks. That being said, one of the local markets had Roma tomatoes on sale 3lbs for a .99$. A deal like that simply cannot be passed up. I’m a huge fan of the roma and it’s cousins. They are a mainstay of sauce making and unlike beefmasters they’re easy to work with because of their size. Beefsteak tomatoes definitely have their place too, but right now we’re talking about Roma tomatoes.
When we first started canning our own produce we’d make all sorts of tomato based items and then can them away, only to find that we’d consume them at different rates and suddenly we’ve have too many cans of sauce, but not enough of paste. In addition to this, each different tomato item had different canning jar sizes, different cook times, etc. It’s a bit much to try and do *all* of them at the some time when the tomatoes start coming in or being available.
Then it dawned on me. If we can whole tomatoes in their own juice we can do it in quart jars, it’s easy, and we can handle a fairly large volume of produce using a very simple system.
Here’s how we do it:
1.) Prepare your water bath canner and a collection of quart jars. We’ve found that 6-8 Roma tomatoes fills one jar.
2.) While that’s heating up you need to core (remove the hard stem part) and cross (cut a shallow X through the skin of the opposite side) the tomatoes.
3.) Blanch the tomatoes (drop them into boiling water for ~1 minute, then transfer them into an ice bath. From there the skin peel right off. Save the bowl of skins – we’ll cover that in the next post).
4.) Raw pack & compress the tomatoes into the prepared quart jars. The reason for compressing them is that it allows the natural tomato juices to come out and fill the jar rather than topping it off with water and diluting the flavor.
5.) Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or citric acid (to boost the acidity, which is critical for water bath canning).
6.) Clean and seal the jars, then add them to the water bath canner.
7.) Process for 85 minutes + altitude adjustments.
Here’s the results!