Friday, July 27, 2007

$40 for ~35 lbs.

Tomorrow in the early a.m. I go to the farmer's market and pick up my 1/2 price bulk tomatoes suitable for canning.

Then I'll come home and proceed to warm up my house all day (and possibly the next day, too) socking away my access to local tomatoes all winter. It won't be the same as the fresh tomatoes of summer, but considering my first foray into canned tomatoes, I'm pretty sure they'll be better than store-canned. They'll definitely use fewer resources, support local farmers and possibly kill me if I don't do things right. Botulism, baby.

So lemme link to the guidelines I'll be using (warning: PDF). Have I mentioned how much I love cooperative extensions?

What I'm hoping to do with this particular entry is to map out a plan for tomorrow so that I don't get really sick of canning within the first hour. It's likely to be a pretty lengthy process, what with sterilizing jars, blanching and peeling the 'maters, adding citric acid to get the PH in the right range, stuffing the jars, adding boiling water and processing the filled quarts.

I have four burners. During the canning process I'll need:

  1. One burner to heat the blanching water with.
  2. One burner to boil water on to fill up the space not taken up by tomato solids. Ideally, two burners for this, but hey, I only have four total.
  3. One burner for keeping the lids in warm but not boiling water (making the rubber most pliable, I suppose.
  4. One burner for the canner
The canner is enormous and infringes on the burner in front of (or behind) it.

Here are the detailed steps I'll take. I've tried to make this as streamlined as possible without sacrificing food safety in the least.

  1. Sterilize jars in the dishwasher.
  2. Get water in the canner boiling. It takes forever.
  3. Boil the water in my pasta pot with the strainer.
  4. Get out a BIG bowl of cold water with ice in it.
  5. Get water boiling in the tea kettle.
  6. Put lids and rings into hot water. Keep hot but not boiling.
  7. When pasta pot water is boiling, lower several tomatoes into it and blanch for a few minutes, until the skin is loosened (notch the end with a knife first. Makes for easier peeling.
  8. Dump tomatoes into cold water to stop them from cooking.
  9. Add 1/2 tsp citric acid to quart jars.
  10. Peel and stuff into quart jars after cutting out the top cores and any bad/unripe spots.
  11. Repeat steps 6-9 until you have ~5 quarts (or however many fit into the canner at once) filled as much as possible with tomatoes
  12. Pour boiling water into the quart jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
  13. Wipe jar rims.
  14. Put lids on (adjust so it looks like they'll get a good seal)
  15. Put rings on.
  16. Lower the quarts into the canner with the jar-lowerer-tool.
  17. Bring water back to a boil and let the jars boil for 45-50 minutes.
  18. Carefully set the quarts on a towel. Do not touch or nudge for 24 hours.
  19. Listen for the pop.
  20. Start again at step one. Repeat as necessary until your tomatoes are all processed.
Enjoy all winter.