Today was one of those gorgeous Florida spring days meant to be outside. So that is where I chose to sit and enjoy the day while preparing tomatoes for canning! Our family prefers Roma or Plum tomatoes for our sauce although we often enjoy a patio type tomato for a fresh marinara. This batch weighed in at approximately 25 lbs. before quartering and coring.
After washing all of them, I quartered them and took out the blossom end with core. I left the seeds and skins as we like a full bodied sauce. After this I lightly sauteed onions, minced fresh garlic, along with basil, oregano, and salt in olive oil. Then the tomatoes were added and left to cook for approximately 4 hours. The aroma in the house was so tempting!
Then it was time to prepare everything for the canning process. I got a large canner pot going with boiling water to sterilize my jars. I also set up a bowl of boiling water for the lids and rings. It is extremely important to have everything clean and sterile while canning, no matter what type of food your are doing. Bacteria will spoil the canned food and can potentially kill you!
It was finally time to ladle all the hot tomatoes into the hot jars. After filling the jars leaving a 1/2 inch of headroom, add 1/2 tspn. of Citric Acid to each jar. (You can use 1 tblspn. of lemon juice instead.) Then use a rubber spatula to go down the insides of the jar to make sure there are no air bubbles.
It is important at this stage to wipe off the jar rims before placing the lids on the top. Trapped food will prevent the jars from sealing and can allow bacteria to grow, spoiling the food. Use a damp hot cloth to wipe the rims off — some like to wipe them down with vinegar. Then place on the jar rings and tighten taking care not to over-tighten them. Use the jar lifter to put into the pot of boiling water making sure to cover the jars with the water. Bring it back to a full boil and then process the jars for forty minutes.
When the jars are done processing, lift them out carefully with the jar lifter — remember that water is BOILING! Set the jars on a towel away from any direct breezes – leave space between each jar – don’t bang jars or let them touch. They will shatter with the hot contents! At this point you will see the food still boiling inside the jars – this is normal. Now all that remains is to listen for the “ping” from the lids telling you that each jar is sealed tight! If you don’t hear them all ping, wait until morning and test each lid by softly pushing it with a fingertip – each lid should not move and you should be able to feel a slight indent of the center of the lid.
The last step after a label and fating the jars with an indelible marker? It’s to enjoy how pretty they look in your pantry!