I have grown tomatoes for years, although it has just been 18 months since I stopped supplementing my tomato habit with grocery store fare. I have frozen them diced, whole, made sauce to freeze, and have most recently made lots of oven dried tomato pesto. Yet, I have lived in fear of poisoning myself with botulism, until today, and have therefore shied away from canning. I took a tomato processing class this morning from Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due, and it was held at Johnson’s Backyard Garden, the largest organic farm in the area. (and growing daily with a new land acquisition pending).
The class was held at Johnson’s Backyard Garden’s River Road location, near Bastrop. We learned how to can fresh tomato sauce, reduced and flavored pasta sauce, fire roasted salsa, ketchup and Pickled Green tomatoes. Armed with my new knowledge and a recipe book, I headed home with 20 pounds of tomatoes to process. (I purchased an extra ticket for a friend who couldn’t come, hence the extra 10 pounds.)
I made a purchase to help this canning effort along, an All Clad Steamer Pot, with a deep and shallow steamer basket. The deep basket is deep enough to lower the jars into their water bath, and lift them out without tongs. Breed & Company on 29th has All Clad on sale for 20% off.
The steamer basket holds five jars at a time.
The most time consuming part of tomato canning, is scoring, blanching, coring and peeling the tomatoes.
The end result of hours of tomato processing, is 7 jars of pureed tomato, shelf stable until I need it, as well as 3 pints of Tomato, Oregano, Garlic, Basil Sauce which should keep as well.
My Grandfather was a farmer, supplemented by other work, and my grandmother, although blind, dealt with their overabundance by canning, pickling and storing the preserved garden food in the root cellar under their very modest home in Oklahoma. I hope to have done both my grandparent proud, by gardening, and preserving, both arts that seem lost in our modern industrialized age.
I’m pretty sure I will become addicted to canning now, and I have no complaints about that! Very rewarding.