Monday, August 22, 2016

Adventures in Gardening: Canning Tomatoes

Happy Monday, everyone. I hope everyone had a great weekend! In a word, mine was productive as I spent most of Saturday in the kitchen canning about 45 pounds of tomatoes! I appreciated being as busy as I was on Saturday because on Friday night I got the tragic news that my uncle had a heart attack and died. He was only 60 and appeared to be in good health so it was a total shock to our family. My heart just breaks for our family. Make sure you hug your loved ones every chance you get - this weekend was a reminder that life can change in the blink of an eye.

But back to the post topic at hand. My tomato plants have been producing like crazy and a girl can only eat so many tomatoes. So I decided to do some canning so we can enjoy the fruits of my garden in the cold winter months. Going into this canning project, I was pretty intimidated. I had helped my mom can when I was young but it's one thing to be the helper and a whole other thing to do the entire process by yourself! Phil was there for moral support and he helped move the heavy water bath pot on and off the stove but besides that, this was a solo project.

First up, I used 10 pounds of tomatoes to make a double batch of tomato salsa, using this recipe. I opted to broil the tomatoes as the recipe said that would enhance their flavor.

One of several piles of broiled tomatoes, waiting to be peeled.
I was nervous about the hot water bath canning process but it all worked out and all 8 jars sealed! Success!

8 1.5 pint jars of salsa. Yum!
Next up was the biggest project of the day - turning 25 pounds of tomatoes into this spaghetti sauce recipe
This is what 25 pounds of heirloom tomatoes looks like!
This was definitely the most time consuming recipe as it tok quite awhile to peel all of those tomatoes! For this recipe, I used the blanching method to peel them. After peeling all those tomatoes, I added all the other ingredients and let it simmer away on the stove for about 5 hours.
Lots and lots of marinara, simmering away.
 While that was simmering, I turned 10 pounds of tomato into roasted tomato marinara sauce using this recipe. This was definitely the easiest thing I made that day as the recipe did not require you to skin the tomatoes. Besides using my tomatoes for this recipe, I also got to use up some of my fresh oregano which has been growing like crazy!

1 of 2 pans of roasted goodness!
I decided to freeze this recipe to save some time. 
8 pints of marinara, ready to be frozen.
The other marinara was still simmering away on the stove at this point so I took a break, read for a bit and then we made this delicious dinner! We grilled the potatoes and halibut and I boiled the green beans. The green beans are from my garden and the halibut was caught by my friend's dad on a fishing trip to Alaska. It was such a healthy, delicious meal!

After dinner, it was time to process the marinara. I had to do it in 2 batches so it was a bit time consuming. But in the end, all 12 quarts sealed so it was another success!

I feel really proud of myself for taking on this project. It helped that I could call and text my mom with any canning questions as she is a canning pro! Canning certainly is a lot of work but it will be so worth to be able to enjoy homemade goods throughout the year.

Have you ever tried canning? Would you be willing to try it?


Charbelle said...

I'm having serious envy over here!!!!! WOW!!!!! You are my hero, I have never canned, although my mom used to. You're going to enjoy all of that so much!!! Your salsa, YUM!!!! So glad to hear that you were able to call your first round a success!!!! Here's to many more successful canning days!!!

Leigh said...

So sorry to hear about your uncle :(

Wow, that is crazy! You got so much from your garden. I am impressed!

Nora said...

Do you need a special machine for canning things? I'm a totally newbie to the process, obviously.

I love making things in the kitchen that will last me awhile- such a nice treat and it's a good activity/distraction during times of hardship.

Sending lots of love to your sweet family during this difficult time. <3

Amber said...

I did a small canning project a couple of years ago with a bunch of plums my friend gave me. I made plum jam but only had enough to make about 5 jars and it was A LOT of work for only 5 jars!! haha. Going forward I will only can if I have lots of stuff. My grandma, aunt, cousin and sister in law are all huge into canning though so if I was ever to do any canning I think I would recruit their help!

Stephany said...

I've never done any sort of canning and I'm way too nervous in the kitchen to attempt it, I think! Haha. But you did so well - nicely done!

Really sorry to hear about your uncle. <3

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your uncle :-( That's so sad.

I have never tried canning, but I totally would.

Betsy Enger said...

A friend of mine uses an attachment to the kitchen aide mixer that grinds up the tomatoes so that you can skip the peeling step for all of her tomato canning. Saves her a lot of time.

Betsy Enger said...

A friend of mine uses an attachment to the kitchen aide mixer that grinds up the tomatoes so that you can skip the peeling step for all of her tomato canning. Saves her a lot of time.

Marlys said...

Canning is lots of work, but the feeling of accomplishment when you look at those sealed jars of produce is so satisfying! I miss that so much, and am proud you tackles this on your own!
I am still trying to deal with my brother's unexpected death and it will take time. All I can say is that everyone should get annual physicals to make sure your heart health is good! He appeared to be in great health but evidently was not, and rarely went to a doctor. If he had, he probably could have had bypass surgery and lived another 30 years or more. So at this point, I am a bit angry at him but I know this will pass. I just feel for his wife, children & grandchildren who would have loved to spend many more years with him!

Nicole said...

First: I am so sorry to hear about your uncle. Prayers to you and your family.

Second: Congratulations on your canning!! The first couple times I canned my mom did it with me. Since then I have felt comfortable doing it myself. A few years back we canned salsa, whole and crushed tomatoes before. I took last year off, but Sunday afternoon I tried my hand at tomato juice. We'll see what happens with the rest of our tomatoes. :)

San said...

First of all, I am very sorry to hear about your uncle. Those unexpected deaths are the hardest to accept, I think :( although a silver lining is that he didn't have to suffer through some terrible illness. Hugs to you, my friend.

Secondly, holy smokes. 45 pounds (!) of tomatoes? Did you harvest the whole community garden. That's impressive. I was only getting a couple of tomatoes at a time, so there was no canning option for me ... but it looks like you made good use of all the produce that your garden produced :)

Jeanie said...

My sympathies to you and all your family on the loss of your uncle. Indeed, a very sad and tragic death and it's very hard to get your brain around that kind of loss. Sending wishes of peace and healing your way.

Oh my gosh, Lisa, you are a machine! That salsa, the sauces... you are going to be eating very well long after the season ends. I'm so proud of you for tackling such a big challenge! (Much less growing the darned things in the first place!)

Linda said...

So sorry about your uncle. Hugs and hugs.

I'm with Stephany. I don't see myself not being intimidated enough to try canning. I do admire you for doing this. What a great way to be sustainable throughout the year. Also, I imagine they would make great gifts!

Shoshanah said...

Growing up my grandma used to can. My mom was actually starting to get into it in the years before she died. I remember her making ketchup, so maybe if you wind up with more tomatoes you could try that next?

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

The roasted marinara sauce is the best thing ever. We did it twice this summer!