Tag Archives | tomato canning

Photos from a Tomato Canning Workshop

tomato canning workshop

The bulk of the canning classes I teach are demonstration style. This is in part because I’ve found that new canners feel more comfortable starting out by watching and learning.  It also doesn’t help that good, hands on teach space is hard to come by in the Philadelphia area.

prepping jars

Thing is, I love it when I have the opportunity to lead a hands on workshop. I only get to do one or two of those a summer, but I have so much fun when it happens. Today was a workshop day.

blanching and filling

Blooming Glen Farm hosted today’s workshop and provided 100 pounds of gorgeous red tomatoes for the canning. We blanched, peeled, acidified, packed and processed our way through every one of those tomatoes, which resulted in 52 quarts of peeled tomatoes packed in water.

full jars

 Speaking of tomatoes, I heard a couple of days ago that Lancaster Farm Fresh has a ton of organic tomatoes to move this season. They’re selling them in 25 pound boxes for just $25 a box. They have pick up locations in Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and Washington, D.C., so this isn’t one just for my Philly-based folks. You can place an order by through this form or by calling 717-656-3533.

canning station

Last thing! We’ve got a winner in the Jars to Go Lunch Tote giveaway. Random.org has selected #164, which is Debra Meadow. Here’s how she uses her jars at lunch time, “Leftovers with a dollop of homemade sauerkraut and a jar of homemade beet kvass or kombucha. In a smaller jar I take crispy almonds and a coconut butter square for a snack.” Sounds delicious, Debra!

For those of you who didn’t win, but are still interested in getting one of these lunch totes, please know that the A Tiny Forest shop owner Kim is just one person with a sewing machine. She’s a little backed up thanks to all of you who want to buy her clever product, so please be kind and patient. I promise, your bag will be worth the wait. And, if you’re good with a sewing machine, she also sells the pattern, if you want to take a stab at making one yourself.

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Tips for Tomato Canning Season

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There’s been a rapid up-tick in questions about tomato preservation in the last week, so I thought I’d take a few minutes to gather all my tomato-centric posts in one place. Before you shoot me an email with a tomato query, take a look through these posts because your answer may be there.

Canning Whole Peeled Tomatoes – A basic tutorial that will walk you through the steps of canning whole tomatoes packed in their own juices. This is my preferred method for canning tomatoes for use throughout the year.

Tomato Canning 101 – If you’re dealing with floating tomatoes, a separated product or loss of liquid during processing, read this post in order to set your worries to rest.

Did your Sungolds, grape tomatoes and cherries do really well this year? Check out this post which details five ways you can preserve small tomatoes. On the flipside, if your bigger tomatoes are doing well, here are five ways to put them up.

Last summer, I made tomato paste for the first time. I wasn’t too keen on when I first did it, but I must confess, it’s been incredibly useful throughout this year. So much so, that I’m thinking of biting the bullet and doing it again (if I’m able to get a really good deal on tomatoes in the next few weeks).

Finally, no tomato post is complete without mention of my two favorite tomato jams. The classic and the one featuring yellow tomatoes and basil. Both are delicious.

In other news, the winner of the Mountain Rose Herbs giveaway is commenter #717, Elizabeth Dalton. Thanks to all who entered!

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Canning 101: Tomato Float, Sauce Separation and Loss of Liquid

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Tomato canning season is here and so I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people who are canning their own tomatoes for the first time. They worry because their tomatoes are floating, their crushed tomatoes have separated or their jars have lost significant liquid in the canning process and now they’re not sure if their tomatoes are safe. Let’s take these three topics one by one and put your hearts at ease, shall we?

Tomato Float
Take a look at the jars on the left in the picture above. Those are the whole, peeled tomatoes that I canned last year. As you can see, the tomatoes are floating over a good inch of liquid and tomato sediment at the bottom of the jar. This one is absolutely no big deal.

Even the most seasoned canner is going to have some canned whole tomatoes that float. This is because there are air pockets inside those tomatoes and when you pack something with some internal trapped air in a liquid, it will float.

You can try to avoid float by using regular mouth jars (the shoulders of the jar help keep the fruit in place) and packing the jar as firmly as possible (without totally crushing the tomatoes). But really and truly, it’s no big deal.

Tomato Separation
Often, I will hear from people who are concerned because their crushed tomatoes have separated into a layer of liquid topped by a layer of solids. What happened here is that you heated your tomatoes for more than five minutes, let them cool and then heated them up again.

By doing this, you’ve broken down the pectin inside the tomatoes. In this situation, the pectin was there holding the structure of the cells together and once it goes, there’s nothing to maintain the integrity of the tomato flesh together and so pulp separates from the water.

I never worry about this one either. Just give the jar a good shake before using.

Liquid Loss
Back to the picture up at the top. Take a look at the quart jars on the right. You might notice that several of those jars lost a TON of liquid. I canned that particular batch in my pressure canner and during the cooling process, they siphoned like mad (that’s the official canning term for when liquid escapes).

Siphoning can be prevented by better bubbling of jars and a slower cooling process. However, even when you’re careful, it still happens sometimes. However, as long as your seals are good, jars with even significant liquid loss are still safe to eat.

You may experience some reduction of quality over time and when it happens to lighter colored foods (like peaches), the product that’s not submerged will begin to discolor. Put those jars at the front of the queue of jars to use and don’t worry about it.

Air Bubbles
Sometimes, you’ll preserve tomatoes and once the jars are sealed, you’ll notice that there are a few air pockets or bubbles in the finished product. As long as the lids remain sealed and those bubbles aren’t actively moving around on their own, the jars are fine. Once a jar is sealed, air pockets are only a problem if they seem to bubbling independently of you moving or tapping the jars, as that can be a sign of fermentation. Otherwise, all is well.

What other tomato questions do you guys have? Let’s hear it!

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