Tomato Harvesting & Canning

September is a dream come true for tomato lovers in California. Here at Bobcat Ridge, the garden is overflowing with all different varieties. It seems like every day, more and more are ripe and ready to eat. We especially like snacking on the orange heirlooms, which are super sweet and juicy. But alas, an all tomato diet does not a healthy farmer make. Luckily, Nancy taught us about canning, so we were able to preserve the end of summer's bounty.

The first step is harvesting. Tomatoes are planted all over the garden, but the "Tomato Jungle" is a gold mine. Some of the best ones were hiding underneath the vines, and often grew in clusters. You can tell when a tomato is ready to pick when its color is even and it feels in between firm and soft when given a light squeeze.

Next, we brought them in and set aside any that were too soft. These overripe tomatoes aren't good for canning, so we ate them for lunch!

Nancy reminded us that when canning, it's important to keep all your tools extra sanitary to avoid botulism. Here's what you'll need:

  • Colander

  • Cutting board

  • Knife

  • Vitamix Blender & tamper tool (make sure Nancy or Ken shows you how to use it!)

  • Large pot or bowl

  • Ladle

  • Mason jars with relatively unused lids (if the red lining isn't in tact, the jar might not seal)

  • Plastic spatula

  • Small cloth

  • Canning kit (Canning pot/lid & tongs)

Steps

  1. Clean a large pot or bowl. Place near Vitamix blender.

  2. Rinse tomatoes. Cut off any brown spots and remove cores.

  3. In batches, blend tomatoes in the Vitamix. Use the tamper tool to make sure everything gets mixed up. Pour each batch into the large pot/bowl until all tomatoes are used.

  4. Thoroughly clean the kitchen sink! Fill one side with hot soapy water and the other with regular hot water. Wash mason jars in hot soapy water first, and then rinse them off before placing in the clean hot water.

  5. One by one, fill each mason jar with tomato puree using the ladle. Leave about one inch of space at the top of the jar.

  6. Use the spatula to push out any bubbles in the puree. Using a small cloth, clean the rims of the jars. Screw lids on, but not too tightly.

  7. Fill the canning pot about half way with water and put it over medium heat. Place the jars in the pot so that they aren't touching each other. Fill with water until jars are covered.

  8. Once the water begins boiling, start a timer for 40 minutes. It's possible that a jar could break or a lid could come loose. Keep boiling the water regardless. This just means more cleanup. Yay!

  9. After jars are sealed, use the tongs to remove them from the pot. Check to see if the lids have sealed by pressing on the center of the lid. If it doesn't click, it's sealed! Take the ring off of the sealed jars and clean off the top. Set aside in the pantry. If any of your jars didn't seal, clean them off and store in the fridge or freezer.

  10. Clean up!

Enjoy!

-- Lucie & Sienna

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