Storage Life of Ingredients: 1 year
When you have an overload of tomatoes, what do you do with them? You can use them all winter long, and in so many ways, if you bottle them properly.
You can create different types of canned tomatoes by changing how you prepare them. This is a simple recipe for canning halved or quartered tomatoes. You can always alter them later if you prepare them simply now...crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, etc. But if you know you'll be using mostly a certain type of tomato product later, save yourself some time and can your tomatoes in the form you like to begin with.
Get out all the equipment you need for canning. For this recipe, you'll need a pressure canner. Water bath canning is great for fruits and high acid content food, but for foods with low acidity, safely canning requires the pressure canner.
Put a pot of hot water on the stove and heat it to boiling. In the meantime, wash your tomatoes. Then slice an x in the bottom of each tomato. This will help you to peel off the skin after boiling. And if you've got a lot of tomatoes to peel, you'll be glad you did this!
Prepare a separate bowl with cold water and lots of ice.
Once the water is boiling, put several tomatoes in the water and allow to boil for around 30-60 seconds. This allows you to remove the skin from the tomato. It shouldn't take long if your water is hot!
Remove tomatoes from the boiling water (I like to use a spider frying strainer) and place it in the bowl of ice water.
See how the skin is already starting to peel on its own? That's a great sign! Allow the tomatoes to sit in the cold water while you add another several tomatoes to the boiling water for another round.
While the tomatoes are boiling, remove the tomatoes from the ice water and peel the skin off. If it's too hot, just allow the tomatoes to sit in the ice water for a little longer. Place peeled tomatoes in a bowl. Continue these rounds until all of your tomatoes have their skins removed.
Before canning, you will need to remove the stems and cut your tomatoes down in size. Depending on the size of the tomato, I either halved or quartered them.
Alternatively, you could also blend the tomatoes and strain out any seeds at this time. I only did this for part of the tomatoes since I had so many.
At this point, you have tomato puree. This is not a typical ingredient in many American recipes because what the grocery stores typically sell is tomato sauce or tomato paste, which is cooked and the tomatoes are reduced for a more concentrated flavor. You can make your own sauce and paste by cooking down the tomato puree until you reach the desired consistency. While sauce only takes anywhere from 30-90 minutes (depending on desired flavor and consistency), paste can take 3-4 hours to reduce it by more than half.
Also keep in mind what type of tomatoes you have. If you want a sauce, juicier tomatoes work great, like Big Boys. If you are trying to get a paste, you better stick with Romas or some other meaty tomato.
I needed tomato puree for a new lasagna recipe I wanted to try that was supposed to be authentically Italian.
But I digress. Because of time constraints, for most of my tomatoes I simply quartered them and canned them as is. I figured I could always strain and cook down later! (I plan on cooking them down next year though...I won't procrastinate like I did this year! Fingers crossed.)
If you only have a water bath canner, you can add lemon juice to the tomatoes to increase the acidity enough so that it is safe for the boiling water method of canning. Since I have a pressure canner, I prefer to use that. This way, I don't have to add the lemon juice, which can alter the flavor a little, and I don't have to worry about acidity levels.
Now, go ahead and get your jars ready. I like to put mine in the dishwasher right before I use them. That way, they are clean and hot. Your lids and bands can be put in the dishwasher too.
Prepare your pressure canner by filling it to the lowest line with hot water and start heating it up.
Fill jars with your tomato of choice, wipe the rims, add the lids and bands, and place in the pressure canner on the provided rack.
The pressure level and number of minutes depends on your altitude. Here is a link to a website that has that information for you...
Once the tomatoes have been processed, allow the canner to come to room temp and then remove the jars from the canner. Place on a clean towel and cover with another clean towel.
You can also add some fresh herbs to your jars if you know you are going to be using it for specific purposes. I added some fresh basil to about half of my jars since they will likely make a pizza or spaghetti sauce or a tomato basil soup. The other half I left plain for Mexican dishes.