Sunday, September 20, 2009

Craft #9: Canning

Yup... another food craft but again, something I've never done "on my own" before, so I'm counting it. [And when I say, "on my own," I really mean that my mom was there to show me the process.]

Each year my mom plants a bunch of tomato plants in her garden and each year she ends up with quite the bounty. Rich and I asked if we could get in on some of that action and my mom did not disappoint. For a large part of August and September we have had a large dish filled with tomatoes on our counter top [see craft #7 photo of finished loaf]. Rich and I couldn't eat them fast enough and didn't want to miss out on their amazing flavor, so I asked my mom if she would help teach me how to can.

My mom has been canning as long as I can remember. When I was super young I only remember her canning pickled beets. Then when I was in high school she started making her own salsa which lead to pickles, green beans and banana peppers. She doesn't can as much any more, but still probably ends up canning something once a year.

September's Cooking Light issue had a blurb about how to make the end-of-summer tomato goodness last into fall. Following their suggestions, we made a tomato sauce that we will be able to use as a base in soups, pair with pasta or eaten on it's own as a soup later this year.

Cooking Light: Blanch tomatoes for 30 seconds in boiling water; peel, seed and chop once cooled. Then simmer slowly with basil and sauteed onions and garlic for a sauce that can be bagged and frozen.

Our version of End-of-summer tomato sauce:
2 yellow onions, diced and sauteed
1.5 heads of garlic, minced (what I had on hand)
1.5 packed cups of basil, chiffonade (approximation, I didn't measure)
5 lbs. garden fresh tomatoes (another approximation)
salt + pepper, to taste

In a large stock pot, bring water to a boil. Place tomatoes in water, after 1-2 minutes remove tomatoes using a slotted spoon and place in an ice bath. Once cool, remove tomatoes from ice bath, peel, slice in half, gently squeeze out seeds and place in a large bowl. [repeat this process until all tomatoes have been peeled, sliced and squeezed]

Dice onion and saute over medium heat with 2 T. olive oil until softened. Mince garlic and add to onions, saute until garlic is softened. Add tomatoes allow mixture to warm, then add basil followed by salt and pepper to taste. Allow sauce to thicken over medium-low heat (if mixture begins to boil, reduce temperature), approximately 10-15 minutes. We tasted again at this point to make sure the sauce was fully seasoned and then started the canning process.

To can: start with sterilized jars. We let them run the jars and rings in the dishwasher first, not the lids. Once ready to start canning, bring a small sauce pot of water to boil and add lids. Ladle sauce into jars. [Be sure to keep the mouth free of sauce. If you get sauce on the mouth, just wipe with a wet rag.] Once jar is filled, use tongs to remove a lid from the boiling water. Place lid directly on top of jar. Using a rag, hold the lid in place while ring is screwed on. Place jars together and place a towel over them to retain warmth. In a few hours you should hear the jars *pop* indicating they have sealed.

In all we ended up with 7 quarts of sauce and... it was really, really easy!!! I wonder what else I can can! :)

{my mom squeezing the seeds out of the tomatoes}

{tomatoes, post-squeeze}

{sauce, pre-thickening}

{ladling sauce into jars And yes, I really am that red; I got sunburned at yesterday's Gopher game.}

{putting on the lid}

{My first canned good!}

{the loot - they all sealed!!}


Anonymous said...

Nicely done! m

Anonymous said...

PS Are my eyes closed??? Dumb photo! m