September 3, 2014

Tomatoes

Putting up tomatoes is no different than putting up most other fruits and vegetables. 

Start by washing off your tomatoes. No need to remove stems or peels yet.

Place them in boiling water for 3 minutes.

 Remove them from the boiling water and place them directly into very cold water. They need to cool rapidly. Cooling should take no longer than the scalding time. Three minutes and they need to be cooled. I often keep my tap running to ensure cold water. Some people use ice. You can see the peels are coming off. Now you get to decided what you want to do with them. My family will absolutely not eat cooked tomatoes, even in chili. So why would I can them in chunks or even leave them whole? I choose to make pasta sauce, and salsa.
 My wonderful, very giving mother gave me this wonderful contraption that had been gathering dust in her closet for years. She wasn't going to use it so it is now one of my most prized possessions when it comes to canning. It is a food strainer and sauce maker. Depending on the attachments you buy, it can take the seeds and peels out of tomatoes, apples, even raspberries and strawberries. Wonderful investment my mom gave me! Worth every penny she spent... The helper is not included!
 I love that I don't have to do any cutting or peeling like I would if I were simply canning them. Place them in the hopper like so.
 When the crank is turned, simply push the tomatoes down with the provided plunger. The sauce and juices come out the front, while the skin and seeds come out that clear tube into another bowl you remember to place there... When you are done, go ahead and send the seeds and peel back through, believe it or not you'll get a bit more out of them.
 Ok, so I'm not as original as some, I use a pasta sauce packet, but you could surely add your own seasoning and spices. Mix it in your sauce and follow the directions on the packet. 
 If you are doing salsa you do need to remove the peels and stems by hand, but it doesn't take long. Then give them a course chopping and into the pot they go with another packet of salsa seasonings. Follow the packet directions. Of course you may once again add your own peppers, onions, and other spices.  I'm using the easy button this year.
 I did these in two different batches, one of sauce, then one of salsa. Simply ladle into your hot jars, place the hot lids on with the rings, and into a hot water bath they go. Process for 40 minutes. Time starts when the water starts boiling. Aah, I love the feeling of making my own food- just like printing money!
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