Once again, canning season sneaked up on me. I was talking to a friend about having a little Can It Forward party only to find out that Can It Forward Day had passed…two weeks prior! Maybe next year?
Fortunately, I was still able to put in an order for a bushel (53 lbs) of tomatoes with the awesome farmers down the street. Last year I waited way too long and had to drive to Las Cruces to buy some beautiful, if somewhat overpriced, tomatoes. Not this year! A dollar a pound…and she even threw in a cantaloupe. :)
This year’s crazed canning session was made so much better with the additional help from my sister (who just moved here!) and my mother. Even canning at 10 o’clock at night is fun when you’re laughing and goofing around with your family.
The KitchenAid food press attachment I got for my birthday earlier this year was also a welcomed addition to Tomato Canning 2012. Soooo much easier than manually pushing each tomato through a sieve to separate the skin and seeds.
The only somewhat depressing part is that after processing all those tomatoes, we only walk away with about 28 half pint jars of tomato sauce. Don’t get me wrong, that’s 28 half pint jars of pure tomato goodness but wow, tomato sauce is hard work! Maybe next year we’ll do salsa. :D
Well, after a couple of days of sweating over a hot stove and peeling more tomatoes than I ever thought was possible, we now have 10 pint jars of crushed tomatoes and 12 half pints of tomato sauce. I know what you’re thinking…yes, we’re big fans of tomatoes in this house and after reading an article on tomatoes and BPA online (7 Foods So Unsafe Farmers Won’t Eat Them), I wanted to can enough for the year. Since this is my first time canning, I didn’t know just how many I would have to make. I guess we’ll see!
It was a bit tough going for a while there since I didn’t realize how ripe my tomatoes were until 8 pm Sunday evening. I had already been canning red chile sauce for most of the afternoon (Thanks Monica!) so all I wanted to do was kiss my boys goodnight, tuck them in and watch True Blood. Nope, not in the cards. Instead, I began blanching, peeling, crushing and cooking 20 lbs of tomatoes for my pint jars. I didn’t finish until around 1 am and by that point, I was seriously reconsidering just how bad BPA really could be.
The second and third day of canning went much better. I decided to split up the work a bit and prepared the sauce on Monday and then canned it during the boys’ nap (Awh, I have “boys,” plural.) on Tuesday. It’s a good thing because reducing tomato juice to sauce takes for-EVER! I was a bit more prepared this time and had supportive shoes on, was sipping an ice cold Shiner (Blonde, Ruby Redbird would have been nicer but I was all out) and was listening to the World War Z audio book. Much more enjoyable!
Over all, I believe the Great Canning Experiment of 2011 went pretty well. I guess we won’t really know until we start eating the canned tomatoes and don’t all get ridiculously sick from botulism or something. Fingers crossed!
Are you all ready for National Can-It-Forward Day 20011? Yeah, me neither. Since I’m a canning novice, I’m hoping to give my new pressure canner a trial run on Sunday. That is, of course, assuming I can find a good source for tomatoes. I was hoping to get them from my neighbor but I just found out their plants are done for the season. Boo. I’m hoping maybe Ardovino’s Farmer’s Market up the street can hook me up and if not, maybe La Union’s U Pick It Farm? Or El Paso Produce?
I am determined not to have to buy aluminum cans of tomato products this year or at the very least, not have to buy as many. One way or another, those tomatoes will be mine! :)
Let me know if you have any tried and true canning tips!