Canning tomatoes is an easy and rewarding way to preserve your tomatoes for use in various dishes throughout the year. While pressure canning is the traditional method, you can still achieve great results with water bath canning. While low-acid foods require a pressure canner more often than not, tomatoes are a part of the naturally high-acid foods, along with meat and others. Here’s how you can do it without a pressure cooker to have perfect tomato soup, tomato juice, and Roma tomatoes all year round.
What You Need to Get Started
Canning tomatoes isn’t difficult, but you will need some supplies to start. First, you’ll need canning jars and lids (or bands). You can use quart jars or pint jars. Make sure they are made specifically for the canning process —you don’t want to use just any old jar lids, as this could lead to spoilage later on. You’ll also need a large pot or a water bath canner that’s deep enough to submerge the jars completely. A rack or basket can be used inside the pot so that the jars don’t touch each other or the bottom of the pan directly, as this could cause them to break during processing. Finally, a wide-mouth funnel and ladle are necessary for filling your jars correctly and minimizing messes.
Preparing Your Tomatoes
Before you start filling your jars with tomatoes, ensure all of your produce is ripe and in good condition, and wash tomatoes —discard any with soft spots or blemishes, as these may not preserve properly. The best way to prepare larger tomatoes should be to cut them into large chunks before being added to the jar; smaller varieties, such as cherry tomatoes, can usually be added whole. Once all of your tomato products are prepared, it’s time to begin filling your jars with fresh tomatoes.
Fill Your Jars
Using your funnel and ladle, we will use the raw packing process to fill each jar with fresh tomato pieces and whole tomatoes until they reach within 1/2 inch from the top of the jar rim—this space is known as “headspace.” Next, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (or 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid) per quart-sized jar; this step helps ensure that the acidity levels of your canned tomatoes stay acidic enough for safe storage over time. If desired, you can also add salt at this point as well—1 teaspoon per quart should do it. Next, use a butter knife or some other implement to rid the jar of air bubbles. Lastly, wipe down the rim of the jar with a damp cloth before adding lids and bands; this is a great way any debris that could interfere with proper sealing later on.
Closing Up Your Jars
Once each jar has been filled and sealed correctly, it’s time to use the correct processing times for a hot water bath. Usually, it takes around 85 minutes (for quarts) or 75 minutes (for pints). To do this correctly, place filled jars into a boiling water bath using tongs or a jar lifter; make sure there is at least 1 inch of boiling water above each jar lid before covering the pot with a lid and bringing it back up to a boil again. Allow boiled jars to cool completely without touching them; after 12-24 hours, check seals by pressing down on the center of the lid—if the seal has been successful, it should not flex up or down when pressed!
In addition to the above-described Water Bath method, there are a few other methods of preserving tomatoes.
The open kettle method is another popular way to preserve canned tomatoes without using a pressure cooker. This method involves cooking down tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, or pasta sauce over an open fire until it reaches desired thickness before filling jars with said sauce and following standard canning procedures afterward—boiling filled jars in the hot liquid bath for 45 minutes before cooling down undisturbed overnight and labeling/storing away thereafter!
Another way to preserve summer tomatoes without using a pressure cooker is by pickling them. Pickled tomatoes have an incredibly unique flavor and are great served alongside meats, cheeses, and other savory dishes. To pickle your tomatoes, simply mix together some vinegar, sugar, and spices like peppercorns, cloves or bay leaves in a pot and bring it to a boil on the stovetop. Then add your prepared tomato slices or chunks and simmer for about 10 minutes before transferring everything into sterilized jars for storage. Once cooled, your pickled tomatoes are ready to eat!
Finally, another way to preserve summer produce without using a pressure cooker is by sun-drying them – perfect for those who love sun-dried products! To sun-dry your tomatoes start by washing them off and cutting them into thick slices; then spread out the slices on racks placed over baking sheets lined with parchment paper (be sure not to overlap). Sprinkle some salt over top before placing the trays outside in direct sunlight until the slices are dry (this usually takes about two days). Once dried out completely, store in airtight containers until ready to use.
Water bath canning may seem intimidating at first, but if done correctly, it is an easy way to preserve large batches of fresh produce without the use of a pressure cooker! With just some basic supplies like mason jars and lids plus lemons (or citric acid), salt, and fresh produce, you can enjoy home-canned tomatoes throughout the year! So why wait? Start preserving today!
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