Canning Garden Tomatoes

I'm getting a lot of tomatoes out of my vegetable-infested weed patch.  Many more than I could possibly eat or force-feed to the kids.  So today I'm canning chopped tomatoes.  We'll use these in chili, stew, and salsa this winter.

In a nutshell the process is:
Peel them, chop them up, put them in clean jars with 1/4 teaspoon citric acid (or some lemon juice),  and pressure can them for 15 minutes at 5 PSI.

The slightly longer version of this is below.

I used:
  • Tomatoes
  • Citric acid
    • I got mine from All Season's Gardening & Brewing Supply Co on 8th in Nashville.
    • You can also use Lemon juice
  • Pint Mason Jars with bands and new lids
  • A pot of boiling water for peeling tomatoes
  • A large bowl of icy water for cooling tomatoes
    • (and extra ice)
  • A jar-filling funnel
  • A Slotted spoon
  • A chef's knife and cutting board.

The process is

Get some Tomatoes!  These are a little sad because we've been short on rain but that is okay.

Pick through and chuck any icky ones to the compost bucket.
Next, Peel them.  Here is how to peel a Tomato really fast.
  • Boil a pot of water.
  • Drop in a dozen or so tomatoes.
  • Wait 20 seconds.
  • Quickly get all of them out with a slotted spoon and drop them into a bowl of icy water.
  • Repeat this process until your bowl of icy water is full of tomatoes.
  • Wait a bit for them to cool.
  • Put the now-cold tomatoes out on paper towels to drain while you are peeling.
    • This helps to get less water on your juice covered cutting board.
  • With your left hand, grab a tomato by the stem end and move to the cutting board.
  • With the knife in your right hand, cut it almost in half laterally just below the stem.
  • Pull back the peel with your left tomato holding hand.
  • Cut the stem and peel off with the knife hand.
  • With 5 minutes practice you can do a tomato in seconds.
    • When you run out of cold tomatoes, refill your ice bowl and start again.
    • If the skins aren't loose enough, make your boiling time longer.
    •  If the fruit is mushy, you boiled it too long or it was overripe.
Chop them, if you want chopped tomatoes.  If you have OCD, you'll line them all up on the cutting board in neat little rows and cut a half dozen tomatoes with one pass of the knife.
Slide the cut tomatoes off into a bowl and keep peeling and cutting.
When your bowl is full, arrange your jars in neat rows, and measure in 1/4 Teaspoon of Citric Acid into each one.

Ladle the cut/peeled tomatoes into clean jars with the jar funnel, prodding them with the ladle or a spatula handle to make sure they pack in efficiently leaving some space at the top.  The official book says 1/4 inch.  I leave it so they are below the flange below the threads at the top of the jar.

 When your bowl is empty, wipe off the jar tops with a paper towel and screw on a lid and band.

Repeat until all of your tomatoes are done or you run out of jars.  Whichever comes first.

Note: My canner is grossly oversized and takes -forever- to come to a boil, so I  add 4-5 inches of water and put it on to boil with the lid on but not clamped down about 25 minutes while I'm peeling tomatoes. When all the tomatoes are jarred, lidded, and banded I put them in the canner where the water should be already boiling.

Then I put the lid on and clamp it down, but don't put the weight on yet.

As an aside, I have this really nifty pressure canner regulator weight I got from Ace Hardware in Smyrna, TN.  It is in three pieces, and will automatically (within reason) maintain the canner pressure where you want it depending on how many weights you put on it.

Amazon has these if you want one. Link: Presto Pressure Canner Pressure Regulator
I wait ~10 minutes for it to start steaming really well, and then put the weight on.  5 minutes later it is up to pressure and I start the 15 minute cooking timer. 

When the timer goes off I move the canner off the heat, but don't take the weight off.  If you do, the still-really hot stuff in the jars will boil, expand, push the lids off, make a mess, and ruin your day.  In a half hour (or the next morning) it will have cooled and then you can safely pull the jars out.  (With tongs, if it's hot.)

Note: It's normal if the tomatoes separate into a not pretty clear yellow broth, and tomato chunks.  (Censored picture of ugly tomatoes.) Shake them up to make them pretty again.  Check to make sure the lids are popped in before you store them. 

All done!

Note: After peeling tomatoes for an hour,  you'll probably not want to see a tomato for several days.  That's okay.  These will stay good until next years tomatoes come in from the garden.