Tomato season is here and in full swing! That means lots of tomato canning for later use.
Fruit float is common in canning, especially when canning tomatoes. Fruit float, is when the bulk of the tomato floats to the top of the jar, leaving sometimes considerable liquid at the bottom half (or quarter, or third) of the jar. It can typically be resolved by shaking the jars around a bit after 24 hours, but there is still an element that you’ve done something wrong, because it just doesn’t look right. I like my canned goods to be aesthetically pleasing, so I’m always looking at ways to make my jars more attractive.
We’ve had such good weather this year, with cooler highs, and plenty of rain, the tomatoes are abundant, to say the least. I had a tomato canning day scheduled with Paula of Springdale Farm today, and she wanted to try cold packing Juliet tomatoes, because they are meaty and she thought we could pack them down in the jars, to get less float.
We started with 35 pounds of Springdale Farm Juliets.
35 pounds seemed daunting at first, especially because they needed to be peeled. To loosen their skins, we took a workable portion out of the bin and poured boiling water over them in a bowl.
Once they were cool enough to work with, using paring knives, we took off the skins, from the stem end, which also removed the tiny stem.
Having read that we could dehydrate the skins, then later make tomato powder, we reserved the skins. Working in batches, once we had enough to fill the water bath pot with quart jars, Paula started packing the jars, as I continued to peel tomatoes.
She packed the jars very tightly, trying not to crush all of the juice out of the tomatoes, but with enough pressure to remove the air pockets, and really get them packed in. We used citric acid rather than lemon juice, to increase the acidity for canning.
We loaded up the dehydrator trays with tomato skins, and put those in to dry out.
Once the jars were packed, we put them in their water bath for 85 minutes, the amount necessary for cold packed tomatoes. After processing, we pulled out the jars, and found that we had achieved nearly zero fruit float! Very exciting, indeed.
The skins are dried out as well, although I’ve not seen the final product. We will grind them into tomato powder, which will be a great way to preserve tomato flavor for soups, eggs, or just about anything.
These will come in so handy once tomato season is long gone.