Canning Tomatoes to Preserve the Harvest

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tomatoes-canningMy tomatoes are coming from the garden by the basket. After handing them out to neighbors, I am still left with too many to eat on my own, although I have given it a good shot. Canning tomatoes is a good way to preserve abundant harvest and it gives you the opportunity to savor your tomatoes at a future time.

Although I love tomatoes for their wonderfully delectable taste, tomatoes are also packed with nutrients. One of these is lycopene. Tomatoes contain high amounts of lycopene, an antioxidant compound that has been linked, in several scientific studies, to lower rates of prostate, lung and stomach cancer.

Although eating tomatoes raw, especially right out of the garden, is my favorite way to enjoy them, cooking tomatoes seems to release more of the extremely healthy antioxidant lycopene. This means that using cooked tomato products such as tomato paste and sauces is an excellent way to increase your intake of this powerful nutrient.

If you have never canned before, this recipe is a good start. Although there is some prep work involved, it is a simple process. I usually make it a family day, and everyone helps.

Canning Tomatoes

• 4 tsp dried basil
• 2 tsp dried thyme
• 1 Tbsp oregano
• 1 tsp garlic powder
• Water and ice cubes
• 12 cups large ripe tomatoes (about 6 lbs)
• 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp organic bottled lemon juice
• 10 fresh bay leaves

Prepare all equipment for the hot water canning process.

In a small bowl, stir together basil, thyme, oregano and garlic powder, then set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with cold water and a handful of ice.

With a small paring knife, core tomatoes by cutting approximately 1/2 inch deep around the stem in a cone shape. Discard tomato cores. Working in batches, blanch tomatoes in boiling water just until skins start to split, about 30 to 60 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and place immediately into ice water. Slip off skins and discard; cut tomatoes into halves or quarters.

Discard blanching water. Refill again with fresh water and bring to a boil over high heat.

Meanwhile, lay a clean kitchen towel on your work surface. Place hot, sterilized jars on the towel and, to each jar, add 1 Tbsp lemon juice and 1 bay leaf. Divide up spice mix evenly among the jars, about 1 tsp in each. Pack in tomatoes. Ladle boiling water over the tomatoes, leaving 1/2 inch of head space from the top rim of the jars.

Seal and process the jars using the water bath canning method for 40 minutes. Uncover the pot, turn off the heat, and let jars sit in the water for 5 more minutes. Remove them with canning tongs and set on a cooling rack or clean towel. Leave the jars to cool, undisturbed, for 12 to 24 hours.

Check each seal, then store herbed tomatoes for up to 1 year in a cool, dark place.

Photo from here, with thanks.

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January 2023