My friend Sam and I have started an adventure into canning. Although she grew up in an active farming community where canning and preserving were commonplace, neither one of us had tackled the process as adults. Before we decided to make our effort teamwork, both of us had small runs with a couple jars of jam and apple butter. Excited about the process of preserving, we decided to jump in with tomatoes.
The fruit on our home tomato plants wanted to stay green this year so we opted to purchase from our local farmer’s market. I found a great booth that offered organic tomatoes at less than a dollar a pound. With a box purchased and our canning supplies at the ready, we began our journey into the wonderful (and long) world of canning!
She has a great kitchen and WAY more room than I to let our babies run around. They’re only 6 weeks apart so it is an ideal situation where mamas can chat while we work and the babies can play together. Everyone is happy. Both she and I are crafty mamas. We like to get our hands dirty and see the beautiful completion of a fine dinner or well worked project. Though we love just hanging out for coffee, we also find that it’s a great excuse to get some fun work done!
That first 26 lb box took us almost 8 hours. Needless to say, it was a learning process. Of course we’re also taking into fact that we both have 14 month old toddlers running at our feet who need attention, which we’re happy to give. So who knows how the time would work out if we had only the canning to do. The water bath itself took up to 55 minutes per process. It didn’t matter though. Time passed smoothly and we had a great time. We got 12 pint jars of diced tomatoes out of that first attempt. We lost over half our weight from beginning to end.
Our second go round was a bit more productive and much quicker. The farmer said the tomatoes were twos, which I guess means, ‘ripe and ready to eat’. So instead of being able to wait a few days for our normal weekly date, we had to process them that very day. After some advice from Sam’s mama, we decided this time to go with stewed rather than diced. We lost much less meat that way, and the whole peel and prepare work took less than half the time! We ended up with 14 jars.
We are giddy with excitement. Next on the list is beans, and then applesauce. We may become canning junkies. Not a bad habit to start, I’d say.
*photos by Samantha DeNaray