It was time for my annual sauce canning project, so I went down to the local farmer at the farmer’s market and negotiated a good deal on a case of tomatoes. With a quick conversation and a little cash, I was on my way home with 35 pounds of tomatoes give or take.
Canning tomatoes is an “all day” affair especially if you do them in the volume that I like to do. Why go to the hassle unless you get enough sauce for several months to come? The next day I began to start the preparation with the jars, lids and rings needed. It is very important to sterilize everything except the new lids because they come with a special seal that is only good for one use. You can find new lids at any grocery store and if you don’t have jars or rings most hardware stores carry them.
After everything is sterile, cut an X on the bottom of each tomato with a knife and put them in the boiling water for about 4 minutes until the skin shrivels slightly. Next, the tedious process of peeling the skins off and removing the seeds begins. The best way to do this is to hold each tomato over a plastic bag lined trash can and let everything drop below. When removing the seeds with your thumb and fingers you can break apart the tomato in your hands or use a knife to cut them apart.
Now you are ready to cook your tomatoes down into a sauce. The cooking time depends how thick you want to make your sauce. I prefer my sauce to simmer for about 2 hours which keeps it slightly thin. Next, take a stick blender or batch-blend in a blender your sauce until smooth. It is now ready for canning.
The canning process in pretty simple, just take your clean jars and ladle your hot fresh sauce inside. I prefer to put one clove of peeled garlic and a half of a bay leaf inside each jar first and then ladle my sauce on top. Place the new lids on and the sterilized rings and screw it on until just barely tight.
Next, place the jars in the simmering water bath for 15-20 minutes. Remove and place the jars on a clean towel to cool and listening for the popping sound of the lids sealing. When cooled, tighten the rings as tight as they will go and place a label on them for storage. They will last for at least a year but, I never seem to get past six months or so. There is nothing better than fresh sauce from summer ripened tomatoes!