This time of year for canning is a bit odd. While it has cooled off enough that I’m not miserable canning and my favorite fruit and vegetable is in season (TOMATOES!), I’m losing my canning drive and inspiration. The first time I made Ball Canning’s basil-garlic tomato sauce, I was excited that it didn’t require pre-peeling all the tomatoes and figured I could knock it out in a few hours. I rapidly came to the realization that there was no way my largest pot could hold 20 pounds of tomatoes. I dirtied every pot, liberally smearing my white counters and stove top with tomatoes, as I tried to cook down all those tomatoes, and ensure equal distribution of the ingredients. I gave up after a few hours, packed everything away in my fridge, and decided to start again the next afternoon. Day 2 showed me that putting tomato puree through a colander was an impossible task, but pureeing whole tomatoes with the skins on left the sauce bitter. I spent an hour burning my finger tips as I fished peels out of sauce and pureed the denuded fruit in batches. The final defeat was the fact that the recipe says it made 7 1/2 pints, when in fact it made 7 1/2 quarts. Slight difference there, y’all.
Anyways, my disaster is to your benefit. This version might take a little more initial prep, but is a lot less frustrating in the long run. And this winter when you pull out a jar of farm fresh tomato sauce on a cold night, you’ll be glad you did this. When you’re ready to eat, add a pinch a sugar before you heat. And as always, follow standard canning procedures for preparing jars and lids.
- 10 lbs Roma or San Marzano tomatoes
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped onion (1 small)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
- 8 tbsp commercial lemon juice, divided
- 4 tsp salt, divided
- 4 quart canning jars OR 8 pint canning jars, with lids and rings
- Working in small batches (~2 lbs), drop tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minute, then transfer to a bowl of ice water.
- Over a trash bowl, pull off tomato skins and squeeze out seeds,then set aside tomatoes.
- Heat oil in a large nonreactive pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and cook until translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, bring to a simmer and cook uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Puree sauce in batches, return to the pot and bring back to a simmer.
- Transfer marinara to prepared jars, add 1 tbsp lemon juice and 1/2 tsp salt to each pint jar (2 tbsp and 1 tsp respectively for quarts), wipe off rims, and close off with prepared lids and rings.
- Process in a hot water bath for 30 minutes for pints, 45 for quarts.
Since I’ve stepped up the amount I’ve canned this summer I’ve really been enjoying the blog Food in Jars. Her recipes are creative, reliable and follow good food safety standards. So, when I found myself with 2 pounds of jalapenos (don’t you hate it when that happens?) I was pleased to find her recipe for Unfancy Pickled Jalapeno Peppers. For my own purposes, I doubled it to deal with two pounds of produce, and sliced my jalapenos horizontally, because that’s an easier way to add them to pizzas, pasta and salad. And as a warning, please wear gloves when slicing all those jalapenos. Anyways, I’m excited about the latest addition to my pantry so that even if I freeze this winter, my stomach will be filled with warm spicy goodness.
- 2 pounds jalapenos, thinly sliced horizontally
- 4 cups filtered water
- 4 cups white vinegar
- 4 tbsp pickling salt (can’t find any? use kosher, just stay away from iodine)
- 5 pint canning jars, with seals and bands
Combine water, vinegar and salt in a medium pot, cover and bring to a simmer. Pack jalapenos in clean jars up to the base of the threads, then pour brine over, leaving 1/2 inch of head room. Wipe off rims, top with hot seals and bands, then water bath process for 10 minutes.
I realize that fall has arrived in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, but here in Nor Cal, summer is hanging on. But, the summer crops are about to give out and many people are getting sick of them, so it’s time to scoop up some great produce for a bargain. I saw a post on Freecycle offering basil, replied “Yes, please!” and went home with an armload. Of course, a girl can only use so much pesto in one sitting, but fortunately it freezes beautifully. I like to put it in ice cube trays, then transfer the pesto cubes into freezer bags and drop them into my tomato sauces, etc all winter long when I want a kick of basil.
I don’t use the pine nuts in this version, since I’m freezing it, and quite frankly, I don’t like them. Feel free to report me to the Italian authorities. Also, I make this in my food processor. I’ve used a blender, but it required periodically stopping it to push down the leaves. Don’t have either? In the ancient Roman tradition, finely chop the basil leaves. It’ll take a while and you’ll end up with a rougher product, but it will be delicious.
- 1 large bunch of basil, removed from stems (about 6 cups, loosely packed)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 cup good parmesan
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Makes about 1 1/2 cups. If desired, spoon into ice cube trays and freeze.
As I mentioned yesterday, a coworker gave me 20 pounds of tomatillos and I kept 10 pounds for myself before passing the rest on. I decided to try a new recipe for canning tomatillo salsa that I found from National Center for Home Food Preservation. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but canning requires a certain balance of acids, sugar, and salt to prevent spoiling, so when using a new recipe, I try to find a reputable source. This stuff is ah-maz-ing. The second batch didn’t even make it into jars because I want to eat it now. Fortunately my coworker is bringing me more tomatillos next week. Yay! If you can’t find tomatillos, you can use green tomatoes, which you can ask your friendly local farmer about. As always, if you don’t feel like finely chopping by hand, pulse the veggies in your food processor.
- 5 cups tomatillos, hulled, rinsed and chopped (don’t worry about peeling or seeding)
- 1 1/2 cups seeded and finely chopped long chiles (like Ancho or Pasilla)
- 1/2 cup seeded and finely chopped jalapeno
- 4 cups finely chopped onions
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup commercial lemon or lime juice
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 4 to 5 pint glass canning jars, with seals and rings
Prepare your jars and lids. Combine all ingredients in a large non-reactive pot (stainless steal or enameled cast iron), bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Hot pack in prepared jars, leaving 1/2 in head space and water bath process for 15 minutes.
I love pickles, but I must admit that my own homemade dill pickles aren’t exactly the best. However my pickle relish is pretty darned good. It’s a more generous item to make; you don’t need to have exactly the perfect cucumber, instead it’s a great use of the slightly over-sized cucumbers that start to clog your garden right about now. Traditionally this is made with red peppers instead of green or half and half for a splash of color, but I use whatever is handy, which turned out to be all green this time. For preparing the jars, check out my post on strawberry vanilla jam.
Sweet Pickle Relish
- 2 2/3 cups cucumbers, deseeded and finely chopped (I do all chopping in small batches in my food processor)
- 1 1/3 cups onion, finely chopped
- 1 1/3 cups bell peppers, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 2 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/3 cup cider vinegar
- 1 1/3 tbsp pickling spice
- 2 pint or 4 half pint canning jars, with lids and rings
Mix vegetables and salt in a large bowl, cover with cold water and set aside for 2 hours. When that time is up, pour mixture into a colander over a sink or bowl and press out as much of the water as possible. Bring sugar, vinegar, and spices to a boil in a small pot. Add the vegetables, return to a simmer, and cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Transfer to sterile jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
I realize I’m making this seem like a war, and frankly, sometimes it feels like one. Tomatoes are threatening to take over my kitchen and the most useful way to preserve them is one of the more complicated. Basically, I’ve taken you through the easy methods (boozy fruit and drying) to the intermediate (jams and plum sauce), but now it’s time to tackle something more advanced: crushed tomatoes. Yes, it sounds easy, and yes, it doesn’t require many ingredients, but it does require more prep than the other recipes, since the skins and seeds of tomatoes can taste bitter and a lot of people don’t like the texture. To keep it from being overwhelming, I suggest tackling this with a small batch like this (scale up if you like!) or bribing a friend to join you. However, that being said, I find it more than worth the effort to have such fresh tasting jarred tomatoes all winter long.
Canned Crushed Tomatoes
- 5 lbs Roma or San Marzano tomatoes
- 4 glass pint jars with lids and rings
- 4 tbsp commercial lemon juice, divided
- 2 tsp salt, divided
- Run jars through a dishwasher on the hottest setting, or put on a cookie sheet in a 225 F oven.
- Bring a small pot of water to boil, drop in lids and turn water off.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. In small batches of a pound or so, drop tomatoes in boiling water, leave for 1 minute, then remove and put tomatoes in an ice bath in order to loosen skins. If possible, keep water simmering for the water bath.
- Remove the skins of the tomatoes, then squeeze over a large bowl or in a sink to remove seeds (these things can squirt so watch out!) Transfer naked, squished tomato to another large pot and if desired, tear tomato into pieces.
- When all the tomatoes are prepped, put over medium high heat, and bring to a simmer.
- Ladle into prepared jars, leaving 1/2 in of head space, then add 1 tbsp lemon juice and 1/2 tsp salt to each jar, close with lids and seals.
- Process jars in a hot water bath for 30 minutes.
And a bonus step: sit down and have a cold beer.