I usually freeze my tomatoes until I have time later to make sauce, ketchup or just can some chopped tomatoes for later use. (I freeze them by washing and drying them, placing them on a baking sheet and freezing until solid. No, I do not peel or seed them as the skin comes off easily when they are defrosted. Once frozen, I place into an airtight freezer bag and return to the freezer. This allows me to defrost one or ten, however many I need at the time.)
I like to do ‘small batch’ canning, which means I can do a few jars at a time. Of course when my tomatoes come in all at once, I haul out the big canner and fill it up. The basic procedure for canning small or large batches is the same only the equipment varies slightly. If I’m canning a small batch instead of the big canner, I can usually use a large stockpot, deep enough for the water to cover the jars by 2″. I use a cake rack for the bottom of the stockpot so the jars don’t sit on the bottom of the pot where they could possibly break. That’s it!
Tomatoes-I do not peel or seed my tomatoes, just pack them raw
Tomato juice (you could also use hot water)
Fresh herbs, optional
For Processing Tomatoes You will need:
- A stockpot or regular canner (tall enough so the jars are submerged by 2″ while processing)
- A rack for the bottom of the stockpot or canner
- Canning lifters (for jars & for lids), wide mouth funnel
- Canning jars, lids and screw bands
- Several clean tea towels
- Baking sheet
Place the rack in the bottom of your stockpot. Make sure to choose a deep enough pot so that the jars will be covered 2″ of water.
Fill the pot with water and begin to bring to a boil. Line a baking sheet with a clean tea towel.
Wash and dry the jars, lids and screw bands. Place lids into a small saucepan with hot water.
Prepare tomatoes by washing and lying out on a towel to air dry (they don’t have to be totally dry). If desired, cut tomatoes into quarters and set aside. I don’t peel or seed my tomatoes before packing as the skin comes right off when I take them out of the jar. If I don’t want to use the seeds, I simply strain them out.
Heat jars by placing them into the stockpot while you bring the water to a boil. Remove them to the cloth lined baking sheet when you are ready to fill with tomatoes. (The water in the stockpot should be boiling or very close to it).
Place one or two slices of lemon on the bottom of your jar.
Fill your jars with tomatoes, really squish them in there, and use a wooden spoon to smash them down. Add a sprinkle of sea salt and a tablespoon of lemon juice (from a real lemon). You can also add herbs such as basil, thyme or parsley. Using a plastic knife or chopstick, slide it down the side of the jar removing any air bubbles. Add tomato juice to cover the tomatoes and a slice of lemon at the top of the jar before sealing. Leave a 1/2″ headspace.
Wipe the top of the jar, removing any debris from the screw area and the top of the jar. Place the lid and the screw top on the jar, closing only finger tight, and place on the rack in the canner or stockpot. Make sure the jars are covered by 2″ water, bring to a boil and time for 40 minutes (for pints) or 45 (for qts). The water must be boiling the entire 40 minutes or you’ll need to restart the timer from the beginning. Remove to a cloth lined baking sheet and let cool for 24 hours before moving.
After 24 hours, if the center of the lid still moves up and down the jar has not sealed properly. You can reprocess this jar once or just put it in the refrigerator and use within a few days.