Canning 101: The Easiest Way to Peel Tomatoes (Peaches Too!)

tomatoes in a bowl

Let’s talk about my favorite way to quickly peel tomatoes and peaches. I mention this technique a lot when I teach classes, and even wrote about it in this post in the context of peeling peaches, but as I broke down a few pounds of tomatoes today, thought it might just bear repeating.

tomatoes in a pan

Instead of bringing a big pot of water to a boil in order to blanch and peel tomatoes before turning them into a preserve, when I have a relatively small batch to peel, I do this. I trim away any soft spots, remove the cores from the tomatoes and cut them in half. Then, I arrange them cut side down in a heat proof baking dish.

tea kettle

While I’m prepping the tomatoes, I fill up my trusty tea kettle and bring it to a boil.

pouring water

When the water comes to a boil, I pour it over the tomatoes. You don’t need to fully submerge them, but you do want enough water in the pan so that it doesn’t cool down too quickly.

pan over tomatoes

Then, I slap a cookie sheet over the tomatoes to trap the heat and leave the whole thing alone for 10 or 15 minute, until the tomatoes have cooled down enough to handle.

peeled tomatoes

Drain the tomatoes and peel. The skins should slide right off and leave you with perfectly peeled tomatoes, ready to be turned into salsa or cooked down into a small batch of pizza sauce (that recipe is in Preserving by the Pint!).

peeling tomatoes

Of course, this technique really only works for smallish batches. If you’re prepping ten or more pounds of tomatoes sauce, heating up the big old blanching pot is still going to be your best bet.

What tricks do you guys have for easily prepping summer fruit for canning?

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Sweet Cherry Chutney

sweet cherries

I spent last Friday evening at the Whole Foods Market in Devon, PA, teaching a group of lovely ladies how to make and preserve a small batch of sweet cherry chutney.

Because it takes a bit longer than jam to cook down, I don’t often choose chutney for my classes and demos. But it happened to fit nicely for this particular class, and I’m so glad it did because it reminded me of just how good this particular preserve is.

chopped sweet cherries

I went home on Friday night with a stash of cherries from the sale and spent a chunk of time over the weekend pitting the cherries and slicing them into quarters (because I’m insane like that). I ended up making a larger, slightly tweaked version from the one we made in class, but it was no less delicious.

finished chutney

Once you get through the pitting of the cherries, this chutney couldn’t be simpler. It’s really just a matter of getting the ingredients into the pot, bringing them to a boil, and then cooking until the ingredients marry and the liquid evaporates. There’s no need to monitor the temperature or check for set. It’s done when it doesn’t look watery anymore.

Another nice things about making a preserve like this is that you can break up the cooking time. While my batch was simmering, Scott and I decided that we wanted to go for a walk. I just turned off the stove and slid the pot to a cool burner. When we got back, I brought the chutney back to a low bubble and finished it off.

Oh, and one more thing. If you don’t have the mental fortitude to pit and chop 4 pounds of cherries, try making this chutney with plums. It works just as well and isn’t as tedious.

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Giveaway: Customized Canning Labels from Felix Doolittle

felix doolittle labels

This week’s giveaway comes to us from Felix Doolittle. They make customized stationary, book plates, return address labels, and canning labels. All the cards, stickers, and labels are illustrated with full color watercolor images by Felix Fu (the artist behind the brand!).

strawberry preserves

They make a number of different label options that are appropriate for home canners. You can get their classic canning jar labels, which come in 20 different designs (you enter the name, contents, and origin of the product when you place your order). Another option are the oval kitchen labels, which come in 32 whimsical designs and are shipped in a charming tin box.

chef medallions

If you want something a bit smaller in size, consider the chef medallions, which are available in 64 (!) different designs. They come 20 to a small silver tin and would be the perfect thing for tiny jars of preserves destined for holiday giving. All these labels are in the $25-30 price range per set.

rhubarb chutney

Thanks to Felix Doolittle, I have a coupon code and giveaway to share with you all. For 15% off your purchase of customized labels, use the code FOODINJARS15 at check out. And, to toss your hat into the giveaway of a set of the canning jar labels, a set of oval labels, and a set of chef’s medallions, here’s what you do!

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me what your perfect Felix Doolittle design would be!
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, July 19, 2014. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, July 20, 2014.
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: Felix Doolittle is providing the prize for this giveaway at no cost to me and additionally sent me samples for photography purposes.

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Upcoming Events: Plymouth Meeting! Chestnut Hill! Devon! And More!

There are three signed and typo-corrected copies of Preserving by the Pint at Main Point Books! Go get 'em!

I have another busy couple of weeks of classes, demos, and signings! Here’s where you’ll find me!

July 14
I’ll be at the Plymouth Meeting Whole Foods Market at 6 pm, demonstrating a batch of honey sweetened apricot butter with lavender. It’s one of my favorite recipes from Preserving by the Pint and I think you’ll like it too! Sign up by emailing Genevieve.Greco@wholefoods.com or calling 610-832-0010.

July 15
I’m teaming up with Weaver’s Way Co-op for another preserving class at the Chestnut Hill Friends Meetinghouse. The class is from 7-9 pm. Click here to sign up.

July 16
I’ll be at the Devon Whole Foods Market from 2-4 pm, making a batch of stone fruit jam from Preserving by the Pint and signing books.

July 21
I’ll be making a small batch of jam at the Media-Upper Providence Free Library at 7 pm and will have some books with me to sign and sell!

July 22
A preserves-focused dinner at High Street at 9 pm. Call (215) 625-0988 to reserve your seat.

July 23
I’ll be at the Collingswood Library at 6:30 pm, making a small batch of plum jam and answering canning questions. Book signing to follow!

July 24
Small batch canning demo and book signing at the Clark Park Farmers Market in West Philadelphia from 3-5 pm.

July 24
Canning class in the new, gorgeous teaching kitchen at the central branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia at 6 pm. Click here for more details and to register.

July 31
Preserving stonefruit at The Brooklyn Kitchen’s Manhattan location. Click here to register.

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Links: Pink Pickles, Cherry Rhubarb Jam, and a Winner

Honey sweetened peach jam! Freshly made and ready for tasting at the Ambler Farmers Market!

I hit the wall this weekend. In a single 48 hour period, I taught one class, did three farmers market demos, and had a book store signing. By the time I left my last event today, I was entirely spent. So much so that I accidentally left my soaking jam pan in the grass when I drove away. Thankfully, one of the nice market organizers noticed my error and they’re holding my equipment until I can get back out there and claim it. Such is life!

Now, links!

A few nice mentions of Preserving by the Pint!

handmade gatherings cover

Thanks to everyone who took the time to share their stories of beloved parties and potlucks. The winner of the copy of Ashley English’s new book Homemade Gatherings is #151/Robin. She said, “I love potlucks – otherwise I worry about stuff during the whole event instead of just making sure there are enough plates and utensils and then enjoying my guests.” 

Robin, here’s hoping that this book helps you enjoy your guests even more!

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Sponsored Post: Homemade Lemon Curd from Craftsy

pint of lemons

Every winter, I order up a ten-pound box of Meyer lemons. I spent a week or two turning all that fragrant fruit into marmalade, syrup, preserved lemons, and creamy lemon curd.

I pack the curd into 4 ounce jars and stash most of them in the freezer* to keep it fresh. Then, throughout the winter and spring, I defrost one tiny jar at a time and stir a spoonful of curd into little dishes of yogurt as a sweet, tangy treat.

lemon curd mis

Recently, the folks at Craftsy asked if I wanted to take their lemon curd recipe for a spin. I nearly said no, because to my mind summer just isn’t curd season. But then I looked at the recipe and realized that their version used more lemon and less sugar, butter, and egg yolks. A lighter, more summer friendly curd, perhaps?

whisking lemon curd

The recipe works much like those I’ve used before. You combine the egg yolks, lemon juice, and sugar in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. This particular version does take a little more time to set up than the batches I’ve made in the past (mostly because the concentration of thickening egg yolk is less), but if you use a larger bowl and pan than I did, you should have perfectly good luck.

Click here for Craftsy’s Lemon Curd Recipe!

curd in skillet

I actually ended up giving up on the double boiler approach and turned my nascent curd out into a small skillet to speed the cooking. It eventually did firm, and once I added the butter, vanilla extract, and pinch of salt, I was entirely sold on this delicate version.

This curd is light and bright with unadulterated lemon flavor. Since I made it, I’ve been dreaming of dolloping a bit on a slice of angel food cake and topping that with a few fresh blueberries.

sieving curd

If you do make this curd, know one thing. It is inevitable that you will end up with small bits of cooked egg in your finished curd. For a perfectly smooth texture, make sure to run the hot curd through a fine mesh sieve to filter out any lumps or bumps. The recipe doesn’t tell you that, but truly, it should be done.

Click here for Craftsy’s Lemon Curd Recipe!

*I used to can my curd, but I’ve found that I prefer the texture when I skip the canning pot and preserve by freezing instead. Live and learn!

For more about this series of sponsored posts and my year-long partnership with Craftsy, please visit this post.

Official disclosure statement: This is sponsored post from Craftsy. I was compensated for this post. However, all opinions remain my own.

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