Canning tomato sauce – time to jar, Tomato

We are coming to the end of our sauce adventure.  The jarring process is involved – we need clean bottles that have been heated and will need to work fast to fill them before placing them in a boiling water bath.  We process our 1 liter jars for about 35 minutes – the goal is to raise all of the contents of your jar up to 212 degrees (fairly easy for sauce itself, more time is needed if you are adding solids such as pieces of garlic).

We follow a tested recipe that we trust a great deal.  We add fresh herbs, garlic and a touch of salt to each hot jar before filling them with hot sauce.  Note that these are not required – I add them as it can be difficult to get local garlic and herbs in late winter and spring which is why we take this extra step.

Canning tomato sauce   time to jar, Tomato Tomato Preserving Recipes [Read more...]

Cooking tomato sauce for canning… overview and tips

It starts off pink, begins to foam like mad and ends a delightful shade of red.  The secret to cooking a tomato sauce for canning/preserving is patience.

Boiling tomatoes at a full roll is to be avoided at all costs.  The goal of cooking your sauce down is to bring it to a simmer and slowly cook it down.  We raise the heat to the point that small bubbles appear on the surface of the liquid without turning to a rolling boil.  This is tricky at the beginning since a full boil can hide under the the layer of foam.  Push it aside to see what is happening under the surface of the sauce.

Cooking tomato sauce for canning... overview and tips Tomato Preserving Recipes [Read more...]

Make your own tomato sauce – the crush

Once you have purchased your tomatoes and let them ripen for a few days, it is sauce day!  This is a very exciting day of the year to me – it starts early in the morning and goes through most of they day.  It is a day of tradition, family and a few beer or glasses of wine (though be cautious – 300 pounds of molten tomato does have an element of danger after all).

We start by washing the tomatoes in large buckets and then we slice each one lengthwise.  There are a lot of people who skip this step and put the whole tomatoes directly into the tomato press.  We cut them to look for hidden rot and deep bruising that you may miss if examining only the surface.  We generally find less then 12 tomatoes like this a year (from 6-8 bushels).

Make your own tomato sauce   the crush Tomato Preserving Recipes [Read more...]

Make your own tomato sauce – selecting tomatoes

Your sauce will never be better than its ingredients.  Selecting the right tomatoes for the job is, without question, a make-it or break-it decision.  You are looking for ripe tomatoes that are fleshy (seeds and skin are discarded in the process after all).

Make your own tomato sauce   selecting tomatoes Tomato Preserving Recipes [Read more...]

Pickle Dedication – one of the secrets to crisp pickles

Back to the Tomato Sauce series tomorrow – promise.

I was up at 5am this morning (I leave for work just after 7:00am).  I had purchased some fresh cucumbers yesterday and had stored them in the fridge overnight.

Pickle Dedication   one of the secrets to crisp pickles Preserving Recipes Cucumber [Read more...]

The Great Wall…of preserves

We had planned to continue posts on making your own tomato sauce today – instead we are going to take a small detour.  We did some redecorating this weekend and I am so excited with the results that I had to share – our preserves finally have a home!

The Great Wall...of preserves great wall of preserves

These Ikea shelves (there are 2, stacked on top of each other) are about 9 feet high.  There are currently 36 batches of our own preserves on the shelves.  10 of the 12 shelves with full jars feature the results of our hard work – an 11th contains purchased dried foods and the 12th is reserved for house guests – more than 20 jars prepared by others that we`ve acquired over the year.

The Great Wall...of preserves great wall of preserves

I lost count – there are around 275-300 jars on the shelves.  This includes only 15 of the 70+ jars of tomato sauce that we store in Markham and doesn`t include any of our frozen goodies (peppers, grab, garlic scape pesto).

The wall is well hidden from the sun and was, partially, inspired by the wall at Gilead. I have done my research and spoken with several who display their preserves in plain sight (as oposed to hiding them in a dark place) and am genuinely comfortable that they will thrive in this location.

It’s a massive improvement from keeping them in boxes under a shelf – when I needed a jar of jam I would have to take most of the boxes off the shelf, remove all of the cookbooks and fill the kitchen with piles of cardboard.  They also look a lot nicer.

It`s been a great year of preserving so far (I did 2 tiny batches last night) and I`m sure there`s more to come!

Making and canning your own tomato sauce – overview

My parents started making tomato sauce about 15 or 20 years ago.  They had learned the process from Italian friends who made sauce and salsa every year.

The original production was very slow and small-scale.  They had a hand grinder and had to blanch and peel every tomato before cooking them down in the kitchen, adding them to hot jars and sealing 6 or 7 at a time.

Making and canning your own tomato sauce   overview Tomato Preserving Recipes [Read more...]

Ooops we did it again – tomatoes that is!!!

126 liters of tomato sauce is done for the year.  Today is a day to reflect on another year that’s passed and a wonderful one ahead.

Ooops we did it again   tomatoes that is!!!

We started with 6 bushels of half-long tomatoes (approximately 300 pounds), 50 heads of garlic, a garden full of fresh herbs and two massive pots.  We finished with the sound of popping jars filling the night sky.  We’ll post our process this week and share photos and more details.

It took 4 of us a very casual 10 hours to complete the entire process.  A large feast (virtually tomato free) followed and we had a long soak in my parents hot tub.

After 15 or 20 years of my parents creating sauce (we have been helping for 3), we are now spoiled with wonderful technology and a great setup that Heinz may be slightly envious of.

This is what preserving is all about to me – family, tradition, good and honest food, teamwork and honouring the harvest.

The prime canning season is on us now – a great time to start and continue traditions is on hand!  After all, not everythign we preserves is food :).

5:00AM The biggest day of the Preserving year is here

I’ve been awake 10 minutes and am groggy.  I will be in the truck and off to the market in less than 5 minutes.

More than 100 1-litre jars have been cleaned in Markham.  The basil will be harvested in the next 90 minutes by my parents – I will be there by 8:00am.

There are more than 300 pounds of tomatoes waiting (we are using half-longs this year – I will take photos of them to show what we are using this weekend – the photo is a garden tomato a friend gave us this week).

5:00AM  The biggest day of the Preserving year is here

I am predicting 98 jars this year (we still have 30 from last).  It’s a wild guess as we’ve switched to a new type of tomato and every year is different.

This is an extremely exciting day for me – we’ll update the twitter feed through the day (here for those of you on Twitter) and will be blogging in coming days.

Life’s a peach – 2 things I didn’t know about peaches and preserving

OK, this is an embarrassing post – but it’s an important community service that is contained within.  I will swallow my pride (:)) for the greater good…

I used 15 liters (16 quarts of peaches) for jam and other preserves last year.  This year I used 24 liters (25 quarts).  Peaches are very affordable in bulk – I tried to buy 15 liters this year, was encouraged to buy 21 liters as that was $4 more and the kind farmer threw 6 liters more in – total price was $23.

My previous experience with peaches was made up of eating them fresh or from a tin can.  I made two painful mistakes that you can learn from (or, perhaps, already know):

  1. Buy freestone peaches.  I didn’t do this last year.  They can be smaller than their counterpart but they have a wonderful feature – their pits remove relatively easily.
  2. Peeling peaches.  Peels get tough in preserving – thus this is an important part.  Potato peelers get clogged.  My pairing knife wasn’t great – I was taking as much peach as I was taking peel – however practice paid off.  I was fairly proud of my much improved knife skills this year until I recently learned that there was no reason to use a knife.  You can peel peaches by blanching them for less than a minute in boiling water and then cooling them in cold water (the same way I’ve done tomatoes).  It’s a quick instant peel.  D’oh.

Live and learn – hopefully this will help some of you or give others a laugh at my expense.  Lifes a peach   2 things I didnt know about peaches and preserving