Canstravaganza 2010, part 1

So there are 365 dinners in a year. You can take out the requisite fancy dinners that other people make, like thanksgiving, and the nights out to eat for birthdays, and you still have, something like 350 dinners to figure out. Now, I like to cook, so in the Jenson house we don't do a lot of frozen pizza or mac and cheese. That means 350 nights of chopping and peeling and cleaning and browning? NO! We do have one convenience food that we truly love: Spaghetti. Yum!
So, I had a great thought: what if we canned up some spaghetti sauce and tomatoes to use for our weekly spaghetti dinners? THAT WOULD BE AWESOME!
Then, when strolling the streets of the wicked cool St Paul Farmer's Market, my Mother in law and I came across giant boxes of roma tomatoes, for just $12. SUCH a good deal. seriously. It's like $50 of tomatoes. I had a canner and Desmond and I ran out and got quart jars and canning salt, and we figured it out. Steps to canning tomatoes (please do more research than my blog):
1. Get some tomatoes, canner, can lifter, lids, canning salt, and some water. Oh, and get some ice. Run the jars through the dishwasher to sterilize them (if you are lucky, your dw will have a sterilize setting like ours does. We are lucky)
2. Put a pot of water on the stove to boil while you wash your tomatoes. If you have tomatoes with pesticides on them, I would use that veggie wash if I were you. Tomatoes have thin skins and the chemicals will get into your food in the boiling water.
3. When the water is boiling, put the tomatoes into the boiling water. Watch the tomatoes, and pull them out of the water as soon as you see the skin split. Put the tomato into the ice water.
4. When the tomatoes have cooled a little, peel the skin off. Try to get only the outermost skin.
5. Now you have choices: can them as they are, throw a few pieces of basil or hot peppers into the jar, make some salsa, spaghetti sauce, or dice or crush them. Put some canning salt and some sugar in to each jar (2:1 sugar to salt)
6. Whatever you do, pack those jars as tight as you can. Wipe the rims and then slap a lid on that sucker and put the rim on it.
7. Fill up your canner with water and get it to boil. The canner will be huge and will sit awkwardly on top of the stove, but it will work out fine.
8. Put the jars into the can putter-inner thing that comes with the canner and then put it into the boiling water. Make sure the water covers the tops of the cans by an inch or two.
9. Put the lid on and let that puppy boil for a while. Recipes I have used have anything from 30 minutes to 1hour 25 minutes.
10. Take the jars out and let them sit undisturbed, away from drafts, somewhere to cool for about 12 hours. I would suggest setting them on cookie sheets with a lip on them to avoid water everywhere.
11. After a couple of hours, check the cans to make sure that they are sealed by flicking the tops. If they sound solid and don't give at all, you are golden. If not, use that jar right away, stick it in the fridge, or try to re-seal. We did 14 jars (our 15th didn't fill up quite all the way, so it's in our fridge right now), and we had to re-seal one. No problemo.

Pictures to come. Oh, and pictures of our new kitchen, now proudly featuring a sink, stove, fridge, and dishwasher. Nice!
Have a happy canning season!


Amy said...

As a fellow canner - (is that a real word?) I have to say that one thing you cant forget with tomatoes is the acid (i.e. lemon juice or vinegar) I canned salsa last summer, and decided this year to freeze because it came out too vinegary. Such a joy to see jars all lined up on the counter or shelf!

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