My husband and I recently spent two Saturdays bottling tomatoes for food storage.  Since we planted our garden too late this year, we bought 5 delicious boxes of tomatoes from our local fruit and vegetable stand.  These tomatoes were grown in Colorado and were the closest thing to the flavorful, home-grown variety.  We use a lot of tomato products in our family, making homemade pasta sauce and salsa, so we were excited to have jars of fresh tomatoes to use in these favorite recipes.  (I will include the recipes in another post.)

To prepare the tomatoes, we floated them in a pot of boiling water for a minute or two (until the skins began to wrinkle), and then plunged them in a separate bowl of ice water.  This process makes the skins slip right off.  We then used a food processor to crush the tomatoes before pouring them into quart jars.  The variety of tomatoes we used were juicy and did not require any water to be added, but we did add about a teaspoon each of lemon juice and salt as natural preservatives and to maintain the beautiful color of the tomatoes.  Then the lids and rings were added and we processed the quart jars in a steam canner for about 45 minutes.  (We found a steam canner in a local grocery store for $20 that processed 7 quart jars at a time.  The benefit of a steam canner is that it requires much less water, hence much less time waiting for quarts of water to boil in a traditional canner.)

We also diced some of the tomatoes and otherwise processed them the same way.  This was our first time ever bottling tomatoes.  I would love to learn how to make my own seasoned tomato sauce.  If any readers have a “family favorite” recipe, I would love to have you share it here.

Next year, we hope our garden will produce plenty of tomatoes and peppers so we can bottle our own salsa as well.

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One Comment to “I say tomato, you say tomahto”

  1. Toni says:

    I’m a year late, but maybe it will help you for this year’s crop!

    My mother always canned her own seasoned tomato sauce. While most kids came home from school to the smell of cookies from the oven, I came home to the smell of sauce simmering!

    I don’t tend to cook with measurements, but I can tell you how we do it. I puree 4-5 blender fulls of tomatoes with their skins on. Used to hot water bath them to remove skins, but they help thicken the sauce and we have never noticed them otherwise. Saved a little time and labor. With the tomatoes I also puree 2-3 large onions, 5-6 cloves of garlic, 2-3 green peppers, and 1-2 hot peppers of your choice. I cook it down for several hours to make it good and thick before putting them in jars. We use a couple of camp stoves outside to keep the cooking heat out of the house. Just make sure you have a lid for the sauce!

    This sauce is so flavorful we use it as a base for just about any tomato based soup or sauce. It’s great with Spaghetti an we add diced onions, garlic, and a pkg. of Spaghetti seasoning for added punch (we’re quite good chefs and have made plenty of “scratch” seasonings, but for some reason the cheap store-brand ones do it for us). We actually won a neighborhood cook-off with this recipe and guests often beg for a bottle of sauce to try and duplicate the results.

    I hope that helps you….even if it inspires new ideas of your own! Sometimes those are the very best ideas of all!!

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