Thursday, June 21, 2012

Killing Time

That last two weeks of pregnancy always seem to drag, especially when your last child was two weeks early. I think that was just luck because right now I feel like I will be pregnant forever.

Meanwhile I've been finding things to pass the time. Today my dad and I took the kids to a local farm to pick tomatoes so that we could can them. I've never canned tomatoes before. It's something my grandmother did every year, so I thought I'd carry on the tradition. I'm sure she would be proud. I don't know if we did it her way, but we tried. I Googled it and found a method on our state's university extension program's website.

Here is our day in pictures:
 We picked 60 tomatoes. 

It was about 35 pounds.

I washed them in the kitchen sink. Ideally these would have been picked from our home garden, but our tomatoes aren't doing so well this year. The fruit flies and worms seem to like them. 

I sterilized the Mason jars in the dishwasher.

My dad cut out the stem part.

He also sliced an "X" in the bottom of the tomatoes to help the skin peel off nicely.

We blanched 4 tomatoes at a time for about 1 minute. We learned that each jar held about 3 large tomatoes or 4-5 small ones.

We put them in cool water (there was ice in there), so that they would be cool enough to handle and peel.

I peeled the tomatoes. They peeled very easily, I think in large part due to the "X" sliced on the bottom of them. 

My pretty bowl of peeled tomatoes. Bradley was curious to know what they felt like, so I let him touch one. Kind of like giant eyeballs.

I sliced them into eighths. 

We did the hot pack method, so the processing time would be 45 minutes instead of 85 minutes. We boiled the tomato wedges for about 5 minutes.
I spooned them into the jars. Each jar had 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in them. The lemon juice lowers the pH to prevent the botulinum toxin.  
Since I don't have a pressure canner, we did the regular water bath method. I bought this new pot because I needed a taller one to process my quart jars. Unfortunately the bottom wasn't completely flat so I couldn't get it to boil water on my flat top range. Thankfully our brand new grill, that I bought my husband for Father's Day, has an extra side burner, so we used it to heat up the pot over the open flame. Only four cans fit in the pot at a time, so we had to do this three times each for 45 minutes. I wonder how much propane is left in the tank?

Our beautiful 12 jars of canned tomatoes. The problem with homemade canned food is that you don't want to ever open them because they are so pretty, and you know how much effort goes into making them.

Papa and me. 

That was fun :)

I would like to say that it was an extremely educational experience that all the kids played a part in the canning process. But it wasn't. It was educational for my dad and myself as we slaved away over the hot stove (and grill burner) while my kids played games on my iTouch and watched Netflix on the computer . I plan to teach them more next year, now that I know what I'm doing.

And to add to the fun this evening I have some zucchini bread in the oven. My dad and I grated four very over-sized zucchini yesterday by hand (I really need to invest in a food processor), because I'm really bad about picking them at the right time. I have about 20 cups of grated zucchini in my fridge and freezer. Tonight I used 2 cups to try making zucchini bread for the first time. I found a recipe that my grandmother mailed me, probably about 3 years ago when I told her about my abundant zucchini crop in 2009.

Aww. I love old-fashioned handwriting.

Oven timer just went off! It smells like cinnamon!


  1. Awesome!! My sister does all of her canning on her camp stove in the garage. Way to go!! We made zucchini bread yesterday. Sooo yummy!

  2. Oh wow! I've never canned tomatoes before. (Though in Scotland, you have to grow tomatoes in a green house because it never gets warm enough here...) Just think of the fresh spaghetti sauce and fresh salsa you can make in January!

    I'm super-jealous of your garden, by the way. :)