Thursday, November 18, 2010

Canned Tomatoes FINALLY

When i first moved into my homestead and built my gardens, dreams of large harvests of tomatoes processed into tidy jarss gleaned in my head. Until now, that's never really happened. Indeterminate tomatoes put on fruit successively all season: great for eating fresh, not so great for canning a large bunch. Hornworms and leaf footed bugs damaged the fruits rendering them unsuitable for processing. Or, it was just easier to freeze or dry small batches and call it at that.

Not so this Autumn! You should see my remaining four plants (Porter Improved (small grape type), Japanese Black Trifele (small to huge purplish), Homestead (perfect tomato shaped), and Viva Italia (Roma style, fleshy). The Japanese and Homestead are going crazy with huge fruits dripping off of themselves and hiding in the grass. The Viva Italia is sad and small (planted in a crappy pot) but bearing large, fleshy fruits. The Porter never took a break all summer and is still going crazy. Needless to say i've got plenty of fruit to choose from! (and will definitely be choosing to plant these varieties again)

A few of the tomatoes gettin' washed.
With great care i cleaned and picked through the 3 pounds of tomatoes i had - choosing only blemish- free fruits. I chopped  and cooked them until the darned water would come to a boil in my pressure canner (being used as a water bath canner). I swear it took that thing over 45 minutes to come to a boil.

*This brings to me a matter of water waste: in the future, i  should plan ahead to utilize the hot water necessary for canning for several batches of canned goods, not just the 5 little pints of tomatoes i ended up with. It took a lot of gas to get that cooker cooking, and water isn't an endless resource. I have started one habit that i should have long ago: saving the water from the sink. When cleaning my tomatoes i washed them over a large bowl which i emptied into a large bucket. I used this water to moisten my compost heaps and in the future will use it to water the garden. Folks like Susy over at Chiot's Run take that one step further and keep a bucket in the shower to capture wasted water, and have a nicely fitted tub in the sink to do the same. I've tried the bucket in the shower but couldn't figure out how not to trip over it and kill myself. Eventually I'd like to install a grey water system that catches all the safe water from the house and diverts it to the gardens or a holding tank for irrigation.

Anyhoo - I processed these 5 pints according to the directions for whole tomatoes, vs tomato sauce as i simmered them only 30 minutes or so. I wanted to be overly cautious than risky so i packed each pint with a quarter tsp citric acid and processed 35 minutes in a boiling water bath. I'm looking forward to using these tomatoes in the depths of winter (which i think it already is in other places) and hope to can another batch of roasted tomatoes from what's left on my vines if i can harvest them before the first freeze.

Do you can your tomatoes? Do you have a waste water catching system in place?
This post can also be found at Simple Lives Thursday.

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