`I don`t mean to be nosey, but what in the world are you going to do with all of those tomatoes?`
I could tell by the look on her face that I hadn`t hidden the look on mine very well. I managed a weak `pardon me?`
`Sorry, I just couldn`t resist. What are you going to with 5 pounds of tomatoes?`
I explained with a smile that I was going to put them in jars (there were closer to 4 pounds which I would eat in an evening if you let me :)). I didn`t mention that there would be a delivery of 425 more pounds arriving at my parents house within 24 hours and that 4 of us would turn that into 120+ jars of sauce on the weekend. It did hurt that the 4 pounds cost about one-third or a bushel (53 pounds) when you buy them from the grocery store by the pound.
It`s been a busy month – fall is becoming busier and busier year after year and tomato season has snuck up on us once again. Our post for the Tigress Can Jam is deadlined for August 20 and we didn`t want to be late so Thursday night was enough time (after dog school) to squeeze a quick batch of stewed tomatoes out. They are super easy and fantastic in the winter – I use them by adding them to sauce at the last minute and add them to chilis or stirfrys.
It`s a simple recipe (from the National Center for Home Food Preservation):
- Tomatoes (peeled after blanching)
- Lemon juice (0.5 tablespoon per cup)
- Boiling water
We did half-pint jars and water-bathed for 40 minutes.
I adored this evening – the yield was small but the work was super light (about 30 minutes of active work) and we`ll have 7 diners that will be raised to another level through the winter. Since we`ve had a lot of posts on tomatoes lately I thought I`d spin this a little different and share some tips for canning when you don`t feel you have a lot of time:
- Never do it if you don`t want to. It is supposed to be fun and it`s well worth it when you are in the moment.
- Think ahead to the meals that you will benefit because of the work; easy to stay motivated this way.
- Keep your recipe simple. I`m often surprised by just how well the simplest recipes turn out.
- Boil your water early. We started 2 pots of water before eating dinner. This saved a lot of time.
- Know your recipe inside-out – less checking equals less time.
- Boil a lot of water and add only a few tomatoes at a time (the tomatoes cool the water and slow the process – the higher ratio of water to tomato, the hotter the water will stay)
- When you remove the tomatoes from the blanching process put them in a container with a lid (they will sweat and peel easier)
- Use gloves to peel and you won`t have to wait for them to cool.
- Have a clean working space – it just makes things far easier.
- Clean as you go.
- Always keep a stash of extra jars on hand. I had an empty box that I thought was full sitting on the shelf. I keep an extra case of jars (3 cases in different sizes) in the event that I`m ever in a pinch.
- It`s never as much work when you think it`s going to be a lot (this rule can work the other way as well :)).