Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Putting Up

My friends Tod and Lisa have an amazing organic urban garden that they've been cultivating for years. Herbs, fruit trees, eggplants, cucumbers, peppers, arugula, lettuce, and tons and tons of tomatoes. Every fall they harvest the plants and spend several days canning. Last night I got my first lesson in putting up tomatoes.

First, we sanitized the glass canning jars and their lids in pots of boiling water.

The black pot on the right is a special canning pot, and includes a removable metal liner for holding the jars.

While the jars and lids were sanitizing, we scored the bottom of the tomatoes and blanched them in boiling water to make it easier to peel the skins.

Then we removed the jars with this clever little device and dumped out any excess water.

The peeled tomatoes are then funneled into the hot jars. You have to avoid getting any debris on the edge of the glass jar, otherwise the seal won't take. After the tomatoes are in, you finish it off with a pinch of sea salt.

Now it's time for the lids. This is my favorite canning contraption: it's a magnet so you can grab the metal lids out of the boiling water without burning yourself.

The rings are tightened using just two fingers. You want the lid firm, but not too tight.

Then you fill the metal holder with the jars and set it into the boiling water for 45 minutes.

While we waited for the cans to finish, we took a batch of yellow and red cherry tomatoes, sliced them in half, and layered them into a dehydrator.

(And we ate some of the dehydrated tomatoes from a prior batch with cheese and olives. They taste a lot like sundried tomatoes)

The buzzer went off and...

Canned Tomatoes! Amazing. Now the jars have to sit undisturbed for 48 hours. By the end of the night, the table was almost cleaned off...

Lisa and Tod's pantry includes batches of tomatoes and marinara sauce from an earlier canning session...

We used classic mason jars last night. From a purely aesthetic view, I love Wecks jars, but I think the process for canning with them may be slightly different: