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.