Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tomatos to Can

    After harvesting all those tomatoes we had to get them in bottles before they rotted away on us.So we decided that, for this first batch, that we would make a crushed tomato blend from diced onions, peppers and tomatoes.

    Tomato anything (sauce, juice, soup, etc.) is SUPER messy to can so we've started doing it in the greenhouse where we can spray everything down with a hose afterwards. I personally don't like doing it in the green house because it gets hot and smelly with the gas stove in there, but the clean up is quick and easy so I guess it's a give-&-take situation.    

    We have to peel the tomatoes for our crushed tomato blend. We pile the tomatoes in a strainer and lower it into a pot of boiling water for one minute to loosen the peelings. Then we dump the whole thing into a tub of cold water. It's not hard to peel the tomatoes at that point. 
    Important Note: Don't wear nice clothes while preserving any tomato product. Especially if you plan to do at bunch. I'm not in any of these pictures because I'm wearing my grubby clothes :)

Peeled to Perfection! 
Makes sure to cut out the stems and bad spots at this point

Peppers From Our Garden ...
Cut out the stems and seeds before taking them to the Bosch Slicer/Shredder

    Our family relies on this appliance so much I don't know what will happen if we ever lose electricity during canning season (it's happened before in the wintertime during storms when trees fall on the power lines). We put so much through this slicer shredder: onions, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, cabbage, cheese (for special occasions :), etc. 
   It has three different blades and often we put something through the same blade twice to chop it finer. We put the peppers and the onions through twice.

    I was put in charge of the onions ... All of these in the picture are from our own garden. We picked them and had them drying in the greenhouse on newspaper for a couple days. I pulled the stems off before taking the onions inside and washing them in the sink.

    Unfortunately, most of these onions had rotted a bit in the ground so some of their layers were soft and mushy. By the time I was through cutting away all of the muck I didn't have much onion left to take to the Slicer Shredder. Still, we had enough for our batch of blend.

    My eyes were so sore by the time I finished chopping these!

We put the onions and peppers through the Bosch Slicer twice, but we put the tomato through only once. In the picture below you can see what they ended up looking like after being chopped.

    It's always fun when Dad comes out and helps us can. He joins us for big things like maple tapping and cider pressing but we love when he cans with us. Were so blessed that Dad is able to run his business from home. He started his Usability Consulting business when I a lot younger and it really has really flourished--another blessing.

    Our family eats a lot of chili in the winter months and that's mainly what we use this tomato blend for. We can the beans, corn and meat together in separate jars which we open and mix with this blend whenever we want chili. It makes for an easy meal come winter.

One tsp salt and one tsp lemon juice in every bottle

    After pressure canning it in the greenhouse the bottles sit on a rag towel on the table until they're cool enough to wash, label and store in the basement. This time, one of the bottles broke in the caner. It happens every once in a while. It used to be really discouraging, but now we just clean up the mess and don't think about it any more. Mom and I have learned to expect things like that and not to be discouraged by them ...