Tomato season is upon us and it’s putting up time. Wheee!
The key ingredient in this recipe is FRESH, RIPE tomatoes, whether from your garden or farmer’s market. Six months from now, when the snow is piling up outside, you can have a taste of summer by using the stewed tomatoes to make spaghetti sauce, soups, or chili. You can also heat and eat them all by themselves.
I use a pressure canner with this recipe since I’m adding other vegetables that are not acidic. This is the safest way to can foods that are low in acid and do not call for the addition of vinegar. If you are going to use a pressure canner, for the love of tomatoes, PLEASE be sure to read all the directions and know how to use the darn thing.
Canned Stewed Tomatoes
- 20 – 25 large tomatoes
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup chopped green peppers
- 3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 – 2 tsp canning salt
- lemon juice
Here’s the thing… I don’t really measure my ingredients. Sometimes I have more tomatoes, sometimes less. I sorta eyeball things and give it a taste. If you don’t like garlic, omit it. Too many onions for you? Cut back. Because you can use these tomatoes in so many different recipes, I do not add additional spices to the stewed tomatoes. I add them later when I am using the tomatoes in a recipe. However, you can add any spices you’d like when you are canning the tomatoes.
- Wash jars and rings (not lids) in hot water with detergent; be sure to rinse well. Place in warm oven. I wash all my jars and rings in the dishwasher and put them in a warm oven until I’m ready for them. I do this first, so the jars are washing while I’m preparing the tomatoes.
Keeping the jars warm will prevent them from breaking as you are filling them. When using a pressure canner, you do not need to sterilize the jars and rings at a high temperature.
- Remove the tomato skins by placing a few tomatoes at a time into boiling water for 30-60 seconds. Immediately plunge the tomatoes into ice water for a few minutes. At this point, you should be able to peel the skins right off.
- Rough chop the tomatoes (small pieces, big pieces, whatever you prefer) and place them in a large stock pot. Add onions, celery, green peppers, garlic, sugar and salt. NOTE: salt and sugar are optional. DO NOT add lemon juice at this time.
- Bring mixture to a simmer for 10 minutes.
- While tomatoes are simmering, prepare your pressure canner according to manufacturer’s directions.
- Place lids in a separate small pot with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer.
- Fill clean jars with tomato mixture, leaving at least 1/2″ head space at the top of the jar.
- Add 2 Tbsp of lemon juice to each quart or 1 Tbsp to each pint.
- If you find that some of your jars need more liquid to get to the appropriate head space, you can add boiling hot water or hot tomato juice.
- Remove air bubbles by running a plastic utensil around the inside of the jar.
- Wipe rims and place lids and rings on top; tighten snugly. Don’t over tighten.
- Place appropriate amount of jars in pressure canner. Seal lid and vent according to manufacturer’s instructions. BE SURE there is the appropriate amount of water (usually between 2″ – 3″) in the canner before you seal the lid.
- After venting (according to manufacturer’s directions), place weight on vent and process pints for 15 minutes at 10 lbs of pressure or quarts for 20 minutes at 10 lbs of pressure.
- At the end of the processing time, turn off the heat and allow canner to cool by itself. DO NOT remove the pressure weight until the gauge reaches ZERO. You may burn yourself and depressurizing the canner will pull all the liquid out of the jars. DO NOT try and cool the canner with cold cloths or water.
- Once the gauge reaches zero, open the lid (away from your face) and remove jars and place in a draft-free area. You will soon start to hear the familiar “PLIP” as the lids seal.
- Once the jars have cooled, you can check to see if you have a good seal by gently pressing the center of the lid. If it pops up and down, your jar did not seal. Immediately refrigerate or discard jars that did not seal.
- NOTE: When the jars have cooled, your rings may not be tight. This is perfectly fine as long as the lids are sealed properly. If you leave the rings loose, you are less likely to have them rust in place.
As with any food, if it looks funky or smells nasty, THROW IT AWAY. Nobody wants a heaping serving of food poisoning with dinner.