The New Home Economics

A first-timer’s guide to canning tomatoes

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Last night we canned tomatoes for the first time.  Bit of a learning curve here on 18th Ave.  For one thing, we didn’t start until a little after 8 p.m.  I also didn’t read directions very well ahead of time and had to run to the grocery store for lemon juice before we even started.  But, in the end we were successful.

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We ordered 25 lbs of tomatoes from the Tony and Gina at Food4Thought, which they kindly delivered right along with our CSA box on Thursday.  They charged $37.50.  I felt it was a reasonable price for these gorgeous organic romas, delivered right to our door.

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We had several stock pots full of boiling water.  On the right, Adam is dipping tomatoes into boiling water to loosen their skins.  Behind that are some lids in a small pot, and then to the left are some jars.  The canner waits on the far left.

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To loosen the skins, dip in boiling water for about a minute, then dip in cold water and peel off.  Or run under cold tap water.  We got them peeled, cored, and cut in half pretty quickly.  Maybe a half hour’s worth of work at the most.

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Ready!

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Adam got the jars out of the hot water, leaving some water in each one to keep it hot as long as possible.  I don’t understand this step, but the directions said to do it…

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I added 1 T. of lemon juice and 1/2 tsp. salt to each jar, then stuffed in the tomatoes.  We decided to do pints because they are close to the same size as a regular can of tomatoes like we would normally buy in the store.

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Next came the waiting game.  Wait for the water in the canner to start boiling.  Wait while it “steams out” for 10 minutes.  Wait for the pressure to get to 11 lbs.  Set the timer for 25 min. and wait.  Next, turn off the burner and wait for the pressure to come all the way back down.  Thank goodness I had a trashy teenage vampire novel to read while I waited.  Finally, everything was done:

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Final yield: 16 pts + 3 qts.  (We ran out of pint jars but had some extra quarts on hand.)  I took this picture at 1 a.m.  We had to go through the whole canner processing twice because we made so many that they wouldn’t fit at the same time.  Next time I go to the grocery store I will price out cans of tomatoes and see if we’re coming out ahead on this one or not.

Even if not, it’s gotta be really close to break-even, and it was an interesting process.

Update, August 2, 2012: I have since found a much better deal on canning tomatoes. A 20-lb case can be ordered directly from Gardens of Eagan for $16 and picked up at the area farmer’s markets where they have booths.

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One thought on “A first-timer’s guide to canning tomatoes

  1. Do you have room to grow your own tomatoes? If you don’t, maybe you could find cheaper tomatoes in the country. Around here in Ohio I might be able to pick my own for $20 and get twice as much. Just an idea, just wait till winter sets in and you open your first jar of fresh tomatoes. Its wonderful.

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