I swam in Placid Lake last weekend. I waded to my thighs and then dove, losing my breath, my limbs shocked into the breast stroke. Together with my friend, we swam away from shore until conversation was easy and the water the perfect temperature. We swam and swam and then floated on our backs over the dark deep, under the bright endless.
It’s remarkable that a thing can feel so uncomfortable and then – minutes later – blissful. A great reminder that things needn’t feel easy straight away. Often, our most buoyant and enlightening experiences begin with breathless struggle to tread water.
I am a canning wizard. I’ve become an expert at just continually having something going – fruit cooking or jars processing – while going about my day. I remember when, not long ago, canning took all of my attention; when I stood stoveside for hours chopping, blanching, peeling, ice water bathing, packing, processing, begging my brain to keep track of it all. Now it’s effortless. I know canning can seem intimidating; I hear that from you all a lot. So let me tell you: it is possible to get to the place where it’s as second nature as any of your daily chores.
Often, our most buoyant and enlightening experiences begin with breathless struggle to tread water.
I posted a little late night video to instagram last week showing how I make tomato sauce (easy! no need to remove seeds or skins on fresh maters):
I have long detested peeling and seeding tomatoes. Andy’s stepmom told me that she preserves tomatoes by simply squeezing fresh tomatoes into hot jars and processing. No precooking or puréeing or anything. I hijacked her easy method into my sauce making. As shown in the video, I core the tomatoes and them squeeze them into the pot. I boil for a while to quickly cook some water off. I then purée with my immersion blender. Lastly, let it cook down to thicken. C’est tous.
It received several questions that I will answer here!
>>> How long do you process?
For tomatoes: 35 minutes for pints, 40 minutes for quarts.
If your altitude is 1000-3000 feet: + 5 minutes
3000-5000 feet: + 10 minutes
6000-8000 feet: + 15 minutes
Missoula is around 3500 feet so I add 10 minutes. I filled pint jars and boiled for 45 minutes.
>>> Do you add citric acid or lemon juice?
Yes. I add one tablespoon of lemon juice per pint jar (2 tbsp per quart) before ladling in the sauce.
A bit about that:
Boiling water bath canning only gets so hot – around 212 degrees. This temperature is safe for processing high acid food like fruit (jam, jelly etc). To safely can low acid food (vegetables) we have to do one of two things to ensure all the bacteria croaks:
1) change the pH by adding acid (lemon juice or vinegar)
2) process with a pressure cooker that exceeds the boiling point of water
Tomatoes are low acid so in order to can with using the water bath method, I add lemon juice to perfect the pH.
>>> Do you have any recipes for green tomatoes?
Yes! I always make Farmgirl Susan’s Green Tomato Relish. Holy. Amazing.
>>> Can you use any type of tomato? What tomatoes do you use?
I use any kind of tomato. The big, juicy tomatoes take longer to cook down because they contain more water.
>>> Do the seeds make the sauce bitter? Do the skins affect the flavor or consistency?
We are not even a little bit bothered by the seeds or skins. We don’t even notice them.
>>> How long do you cook the sauce before canning?
No rule here. I cook until it’s the thickness I desire. It can take a while so I often cook it over the course of a few days. For this batch, I left the pot on the stove for nearly two days and turned the burner on low several different times (while making meals, usually). Total, I bet it took about 2 hours to thicken.
A few of our family’s favorite tomato recipes:
Do you have favorite tomato preservation ideas or techniques? Do tell.
YUM! I love that you have become a CC, (confident canner!)
I will share my Mother’s Dill Pickle recipe. I have such fond memories of stuffing cucs in jars with my mom, smelling the garlic, dill and brine. Sharing the joy of every “pop” as jars sealed…my mom saying, “there goes another one”…then waiting the 6 LONG weeks before I could have one. Yup I having been making these very same dills for over 55 years.
Terri Holt 2013
• Quart jars with lids & rings, wide mouth are easier to work with
• Apple cider vinegar, (5% acidy)
• Plain canning salt
• Fresh dill weed, rinsed gently & pat dry, do not soak in water
• Garlic, 2 peeled cloves, (or more, I love garlic!), per jar
• Cucumbers, (hint: 5 to 7 cucs per quart, I like 3 to 5 inch cucs) 1/2 bushel makes about 20/22 quarts
BRINE: combine ingredients & bring to a boil; keep hot.
• 4 quarts water
• 1 quart apple cider vinegar~5% acidity
• 1 cup plain canning salt
• Wash cucs gently; place on clean towel and have at room temp
• Wash canning jars and keep hot, I just keep them heated in
• Separate lids from rings; place lids in small stainless steel or glass pan & bring to a boil, keep hot
• Place rings in a bowl of hot water and continue to keep warm
• Working quickly & doing only 1 jar at a time… put 1 scant 1/8 tsp. of alum in bottom of hot jar, stuff a clump of dill weed in & add garlic. Pack cucs in jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space, do not let cucs or dill weed touch lids. Ladle hot brine over stuffed jars, wipe rim with clean cloth and place hot lid and hot ring on jar. Screw tight and place out of draft. I place them on a towel and cover them with a towel; helps keep them warm to aid in sealing. Store in cool place…ready to eat in about 5 to 6 weeks. If a jar does not seal store in frig until time to eat.