On September 1st, I picked up 100 pounds of tomatoes from a local market who occasionally places special orders for me. I had a number of recipes in mind to make with them and assumed that I’d spend most of Labor Day weekend, peacefully plowing my way through them. Of course, life never really works out as planned. I had a lovely time last weekend, but didn’t really buckle down and tackle those four boxes until Sunday night.
By the time Tuesday morning rolled around and I was headed back to work, there were still tomatoes languishing in my dining room. I peeled, chopped and preserved them Tuesday and again on Thursday. Eventually, I could see a light at the end of the tunnel.
The picture above is what has happened to approximately 60 pounds of those tomatoes. Nineteen quarts of whole peeled tomatoes (seven canned in their own juices in the pressure canner, twelve packed in water and processed in a boiling water canner). Four quarts of crushed tomatoes. Two pints of tomato sauce (the juice and some tomatoes leftover in the crushed tomato process). Seven pints of salsa (a recipe for the book). Missing from that picture are the nine half pints of tomato jam (recipe coming tomorrow) that didn’t make it out from the kitchen.
Also included in the picture are seven pints of cucumber bread and butter pickles and three pints of zucchini bread and butters. I had a lot of cucurbits to use up!
Approximately twenty pounds of the original 100 have been preserved in non-canning ways. I roasted and froze a whole bunch and also marinated and dehydrated quite a few (a technique inspired by this post from the Tennessee Locavore).
What this means is that nearly two weeks later, I still have fifteen pounds of tomatoes in my dining room (a friend happily took a few when I offered). I’m planning to make a corn salsa (another recipe to test for the cookbook) and well as Molly’s conserva. That will leave me with just a few left. Looking forward to that day.
Note: I’m sure that a few of you will notice that some of the above jars are sealed with those reusable Tattler lids that have been making the internet rounds of late. I’m planning on devoting my Canning 101 post to them on Tuesday, so please hold any questions about them until then.
Am loving what you do and following avidly! about to buy my first pressure canner and glass jars! EXCITEMENT!!!!! thanks for such a comprehensive BLOG. cheers kari
Totally freaked out. i do believe we have the same circa possibly late ’60s-early ’70s buffet/sideboard/whatever you want to call it.
P.S. Nice haul on the canning side of things, as well.
Ha! How funny that we have the same buffet. Mine was my grandmother’s and she bought it in the sixties. -Marisa
I just made your Garlic Dill Pickles and was thinking to myself that I wasn’t going to bother with tomatoes, even though I haven’t done any yet. (This is my first year canning, so it’s still super stressful for me!) But yours look so delicious… and I’m thinking about how wonderful they would be in the winter… I think you’ve got me convinced. Maybe just whole tomatoes… maybe just a small batch…
Definitely start small! Tomatoes are a lot of work, but certainly worth the effort! -Marisa
I’m currently debating on if I should go and get more tomatoes. My plants didn’t do well and the season is about to come to a close around here. At this time last year I had approx 100lbs of tomatoes and did as much as you, but I did pasta sauce. It takes up 30lbs. Have fun!
My beefsteaks and early girls did well, but a lot of my heirlooms are going to flush right before the first frost here. I am so jealous to be able to have a cache of tomatoes for the pantry like that. You have been busy!
i did tomatoes last week and this week (not a great idea when you are trying to pack up your house to move!) and nothing has convinced me more than the 85 minute process time listed in the ball book that i need a pressure canner…..
This picture is total food porn!
I’ve been debating about doing this myself. We have put up 10-12 jars of our own tomatoes (and eaten them along the way) but we didn’t have a bumper crop. I can hear the discussion with my husband when I say I am going to buy tomatoes to can. Why not just buy them at the store in January? Is the resulting product that much better? Considering I am going to be using those in chili….
I canned a few quarts of whole tomatoes and they ended up floating similar to yours in the picture. I got worried that they were out of the water and ended up taking them out of their jars and freezing them instead. Is floating normal and OK?
The float it totally normal. It just means that the pectin that holds the cell walls of the tomatoes in place has begun to break down. However, even if that happens, the tomatoes are perfectly safe to store and eat. -Marisa
Here’s a question you might condsider adding to your post Tues, related to canning lids. Why do you store your jars without rings? I learned to can at the sides of previous generations (realizing this doesn’t guarantee safety)and we have always stored our jars with rings on. Thanks!
Diana, I actually already talked about storing jars without rings in this Canning 101 post: https://foodinjars.com.s164546.gridserver.com/arugulapesto/2010/08/canning-101-how-to-store-finished-jars/. -Marisa
And I thought getting through the 25 pounds I picked up on September 2nd was hard.
I was just thinking the exact same thing Kim W. said! I can’t even imagine 100lbs!
I too, am jealous. I did get quite a bit of tomatoes put-up from both my garden and a peck of “Grade B Tomatoes,” but nothing as awesome as what you’ve done. Hard work, but rewarding come winter!
So are you going to tease us with your book recipes until the actual book comes out? Great marketing ploy… 🙂
A note to Georgia… I’ve also had problems with water separation and floating. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them being slightly out of the water (Marisa can probably confirm this or correct me if I’m wrong). The air in the jar is just as sterile as the water. It may or may not cause discoloration, though.
If you don’t like the floating for aesthetic reasons, I’ve found that the following helps:
1) If using slicing tomatoes, which have big water/seed pockets, cut them across the equator and use your fingers to clean-out the seed pockets. A smaller water-to-pulp ratio will mean less separation. A bonus is that you end up with very few seeds.
2) I find that I don’t get as much separation if I dice or crush the tomatoes instead of canning whole.
3) Once the tomatoes have cooled, if you gently turn the jar upside down and right-side up a few times (a gentle shake), it re-distributes the tomatoes and most should submerge below the water line.
Justin, I’m absolutely going to start teasing the book recipes now! I want to get you guys excited for it, after all! -Marisa
I’m staring down 40 pounds of tomatoes that I bought at our farmers market last weekend; 100 is hard core.
I just started using those Tattler lids this month. I miss hearing the cheerful ping! of a regular canning jar lid, but love the idea of reusability!
I feel so much better now. I only had 25 pounds of tomatoes, but half of them sat around for a week before I could finish canning them. 🙂
What bounty! We made our first attempt at canning crushed tomatoes and put up four quarts last week — but I, too, am having serious separation issues (water near the bottom, pulp up top) and there are also some small air bubbles present in the jars. we got a real good seal and everything seems fine — but I was just wondering if anyone else had this experience when taking their crushes tomatoes out of the canner. Thanks!
Nicole, see my reply to Georgia. That float and the appearance of air bubbles is perfectly normal. -Marisa
I am jealous of your tomato bounty! I am planning a tomato super weekend next weekend, and it will be amazing. 🙂
I am canning whole and crushed tomatoes today. I was planning to do tomato jam, too, but since I don’t have a recipe yet, I guess I will have to wait eagerly for yours tomorrow. The tomato butter you made looks mouthwateringly awesome, but I don’t have a crock pot, and I’m afraid it won’t work so well on the stove.
Anna, the tomato butter would probably require a great deal of tending if you did it on a stove. It’s possible, but you’d need to do it on a day when you had plenty of other kitchen projects going on, so you could stir it every 15 minutes or so. -Marisa
Whoa! This makes my piddly 3 pounds of romas look like nothing. Impressive!
I’ve been following your blog avidly since I picked it up from LA times. Two questions: is it possible to can the pulp that’s been processed in a food mill? Is a pressure cooker the same as a pressure canner? I live in Brazil and never saw a pressure canner, just plain pressure cookers, an absolute must in daily life. Congratulations, love your blog, have been canning a bunch since I started reading.
Adriana, do you mean the discarded pulp that’s left in the food mill? Or the tomato sauce that is the result of working cooked tomatoes through the food mill? You can can the the product of the food mill, but I wouldn’t do the stuff that’s leftover. And a pressure canner is different from a pressure cooker. A canner has either a dial gauge or a set of numbered weights, that allows you know at what pressure you’re cooking. Here’s a blog post that get’s into it in more depth: http://dorisandjillycook.com/2010/09/13/ask-the-goats-pressure-cooker-as-pressure-canner/. -Marisa
Took a quick glance at Molly’s Conserva and it looks really good. However she mentions something at the end about thinking about canning it in a water bath. It has olive oil in it so it can’t be water bathed. Maybe pressure canned. Have you made it before? I’m curious how long it would last stored under refrigeration.
Rebecca, I’m not planning on canning Molly’s conserva. I made it last year, and it kept under oil in the fridge for about six weeks. It’s delicious stuff. -Marisa
Awesome job! You are an inspiration.
Gosh, thanks Lynn! -Marisa
I am confused. I thought that since tomatoes are a low acid food, they had to be pressure canned. So how did you safely do some with a hot water bath? I do jams and am getting ready to venture into pressure canning. First I have to get a new water bath canner. My mom’s is ancient . Next will be the pressure canner. So I want to learn.
Mia, as long as you add some acid to tomatoes in the form of lemon juice, vinegar or citric acid, they are safe for water bath canning. If you look at my post on canning whole tomatoes, you’ll see the basic steps: https://foodinjars.com.s164546.gridserver.com/arugulapesto/2009/09/canning-whole-peeled-tomatoes/. -Marisa
oh girl. i feel ya. i have about 100 lbs still hanging off my plants!
interested to hear about those lids.
I’m organizing two truckloads of tomatoes from Eastern Washington right now for canners in Seattle. I’m curious to see what a ton of tomatoes looks like (literally). Your look great – I think I did about 200#s last summer and it wasn’t enough to last us. We’ll see how much more energy I can muster this year. Will I be able to do 300 all in one weekend? Not looking forward to it but the community aspect will be fun!
Oh my goodness! That is a lot of canning! Wow!
Great picture. I’m glad to see mine are not the only tomatoes that end up with more head space than I expected! This means it’s all normal. 🙂
I meant the tomato sauce. Thanks for the prompt reply. Did some tomato/ginger jam a couple of weeks ago, already inspired by your blog. Will try to do some research on the pressure canner around here. Must be something only professionals use.
Looking forward to that tomato jam recipe! My neighbor was asking me if I’d seen one floating around lately.
Got it. Thanks for the Dorris and Jilly cook site, very instructive.
so was that 2 bushels? That’s what I did this summer and nearly swore off canning (the post is titled “Consarned Tomatoes” http://thriftathome.blogspot.com/2010/08/consarned-tomatoes.html)
Isn’t it nice that the weather has turned autumnal? Now I can be pleased and squirrel-y about all my finished jars on the shelf!
Holy crap I am totally jealous. I had to use ONE of my FOUR jars of canned tomatoes last night to make a throw together lasagna and I was sad. I am on a tiny mission not to use them until winter and enjoy them more them. But WOW 60 pounds,very impressive lady 🙂
Marisa, you rule. Plain and simple. Wow!
Goodness, thanks Julia!
I recently canned tomatoes using the recipe from Eugenia Bone’s well preserved. I just realized that I added 1tsp of salt/pint instead of 1/2tsp…Is that bad? they sealed fine and the coloring is fine, but I just wanted to make sure i didn’t ruin 15 lbs of tomatoes…
It’s not bad. They’ll just be a bit saltier than intended.
I’m desparately seeking help with some tomatoes I canned…I hot packed them and all of the jars sealed, but there were a couple that I thought, “hmmm, did this seal?” When I poked the top with my finger it popped as if it were sealing. So, should I trust it? Are there sure signs that the tomatoes are bad. Yes, I am a virgin canner 😉 Thanks for any help from Marissa or other expert readers!
The best way to check the seal is to remove the ring. Try to pick up the jar just holding the lid. If it holds fast, the seal is good. As far as pushing the lid, sometimes you just happen to hit it just as it was going to seal.
I canned tomatoes for the first time yesterday, and I have a few questions. I attempted diced tomatoes, to end up with a product similar to a can of diced tomatoes I would buy at the grocery store and throw into a pot of soup. But I didn’t find any info on canning diced tomatoes. I processed them for 40 minutes, as is recommended for crushed tomatoes. Is this okay? Also, it looks like I didn’t leave enough head space on some jars, as it looks like some of the tomatoes are not covered by the liquid. Any thoughts? Thank you. I love your blog.
That happens–they will be fine.
I’ve been canning for 40 years and have never removed a ring. EVER!!!
Looking at that picture makes me so nervous.
Old post…but I just found you!! This picture is freaking awesome!! I’m curious about those jars of bread and butter pickles…do I see tomatoes in them? If so, PLEASE share that recipe! They look delicious!
Well, the whole picture looks delicious…
They were red peppers in the bread and butter pickles!