Gayla had mentioned that Fiesta Gardens was selling bushels of San Marzano tomatoes that were perfect for canning. Pumped up from the canning workshop, I got it into my head that I might attempt to can some tomatoes on my own. I had an extra day off over the Labour Day weekend, so Sunday we drove over to the nursery and picked up a bushel. Actually, Andrew picked it up (literally), hauled it into the car, into our backyard and washed all 300ish tomatoes.
Once you have that many tomatoes in your possession you are committed to doing something with them as quickly as possible. Over the course of two days, I canned 28 pint jars, made 3 bottles of homemade ketchup and oven dried four baking sheets of halved tomatoes sprinkled with sea salt.
The phrase, ‘slaving in the kitchen’, certainly came to mind several times. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy myself but it’s a huge time commitment. With each batch, I became more efficient and I also fell into a good rhythm with all the different tasks that need to be done. By the end, I was pretty accurately calculating how many tomatoes to blanch and peel to fit my seven jar batch without leftovers.
The one problem I ran into was having some of the jars leak when removed from the hot water bath. This was super frustrating. I thought I hadn’t tightened the lids enough, but it happened again with the next batch. Googling the problem didn’t give me any clear insight, but luckily a quick tweet to Gayla was answered with the suggestion to leave the jars in the hot water bath a bit long to allow for a longer ‘calming’ period after the forty five minute processing time. This was exactly my problem. The very last batch was allowed to calm in the hot water for a longer period of time and they turned out perfectly.
All the jars sealed, but the ones that leaked I’ve put in the fridge for consumption now. I like the idea of preparing for winter like a squirrel and stashing away my little jars of food. I’m very much enjoying the dried tomatoes now though. The concentrated flavour is so delicious. I made myself an omelet for dinner last night with dried tomatoes, goat cheese and green onions. YUM!
A few of you have asked me if I’ve made my pear jam this year. I just received a bundle of pears from my mom, so this weekend will be all about preserving pears.
NOTE : Gayla sent me a message regarding my leaky jars, that I thought you might like to read. Canning can be a bit nerve wracking when you’re worried about potentially poisoning yourself and your loved ones. It’s great to have a mentor who gives reassuring advice.
“Personally I think the jars that sputtered will be okay. As long as they are properly sealed they will be fine and the sputtering was just that they were hissing in the water and pulled out before they had stopped. When this has happened to me I just wipe them all down carefully with a warm wet cloth so I knew they were clean before putting them away. I then check for any further leakage a day later to be sure.” Gayla also did a post today about her love affair with canning that also links to some of her great recipes.