I love canning! I started canning a few years ago and each year I try to add a new recipe or technique to add to my experience belt of being a canner. I think that canning has become almost a dying art, not many do it anymore, yet I'm often asked how I do it and if I have any advice to get started.. So I thought what a better way to share my experience than to blog about it.
First off, Canning is WORK, its hard work, its messy work, its often an all day process which results in a sore back, cranky kids and a very tired mama... but there's also something about the reward of knowing you put lots of sweat and love into making this pure and healthy food for your family right out of your back yard. I know how I enriched the soil, I know what I sprayed on the plants at the beginning to prevent any fungus from growing, I know when I picked the produce and started working with it within a just a few hours of picking it.. I know, Its Gonna Be Good!!!
So here goes, I started today washing and removing the stems of the tomatoes. I used mostly Roma Tomatoes but also mixed in some Better Boy, Beefsteak and about 5 pounds of cherry tomatoes that I didn't want to see goto waste. All total I used about 75 to 80 pounds of tomatoes, which is about a bushel and a half.
Once everything was washed and stems were removed I went outside to the Victorio. This is such a sweet invention that has been around forever. You crank the tomatoes down a shoot and the machine separates the skin and seeds from the pulp of the tomato, its really cool (and fun to use).
Actually this particular one was handed down to me by Tom's Grandma and its been generously used and still works perfectly. The only thing I have not mastered is assembling the unit tight enough as to not have a lot of dripping that ends up all over the table and floor and having a huge mess to clean up at the end of the day. SO.. today I had the bright idea to go outside and leak all over the grass and have NO CLEAN UP... genius.. this only took me 10 years to figure out.
Once the skin and seeds are all removed it onto the stove to start adding ingredients to make the sauce happen. I used a new recipe this year and I'm really glad I tried something different. The last time I made sauce it was good, but not great. It seemed like something was missing to me. I found this particular recipe in a Cookbook called Canning the Amish Way that I recently purchased at a local Amish Bulk Food store.
1 peck tomatoes (equals 1/4 bushel)
3 large onions, chopped
4 bell peppers, chopped
1 tsp. basil
1 tbsp. parsley flakes (I used fresh from garden)
3 gloves garlic
1-12 oz can tomato pasts (I used more, I like it thick)
2 1/2 tbsp. salt
1 1/2 c. sugar (I used Splenda)
2 tbsp. oregano
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 tsp. paprika
2 hot peppers, chopped
Bring everything to a boil and then I cook it for about 3 or 4 hours to thicken it up. This actually cooks the pot about half way down, and creates such a wonderful aroma in your house for the entire day. I know that several people do different methods with canning, my grandmother, my mother and now me all do the same thing with our tomatoes. As long and its boiling going into the jars, we do not give them a hot bath. We fill the jar, put on the lid and turn it upside down for about 10 to 15 minutes. Turn it right side up and cover it with a towel to keep the heat in longer to create a seal. I know, I know... there are people that will say this will make you sick, but we've been doing it this way forever, its upto you how you choose to do it. If you choose to give the filled jars a hot bath you would boil them for an additional 20 minutes.
Of course we had to eat the sauce over noodles tonight for dinner to try it out, the flavor was wonderful!!!
After hours (from start to finish about 7 hours) I ended up with dinner for 7 people, 14 quarts and 3 pints made all from my garden. The only thing I ended up purchasing today was celery and basil. I feel so blessed to have an abundant harvest this year from the garden. God is Good!!!