Farmers’ Market…9:30 on a lazy Saturday morning… I live in the farming region of Northern California. Lives of farmers pretty much revolve around the seasons. Sure enough…the Farmers’ Market reflects the change of seasons. There is virtually no summer stone fruit left in the market. Melons and summer squash are diminishing. The bins of fresh corn have been replaced with jack-o-lantern pumpkins. This particular day finds me searching for tomatoes for canning. My supply is running low, and any summer-canned tomato will make a better tasting tomato in just about anything mid-winter. Sure enough…I spy a crate of freshly picked Roma tomatoes. I bought enough two weeks ago to can one batch, and they came out really well. I ask how much a crate weighs. They’re selling for $1/pound. The stall manager looks at me with a discerning eye… “You want the whole box?” I answer in the affirmative. “20 bucks for the box. It weighs about 25 pounds.” Not a moment’s hesitation, “Sold,” I reply pulling out a picture of Andrew Jackson. My husband reaches down to take possession of the box…and gives me one of those, “this doesn’t weigh any 25 pounds….” looks. Sure enough. When we get home, we weigh it….SCORE!! 35 pounds! Oh wait…THIRTY five POUNDS??? Of TOMATOES??? I suddenly hear Harry Chapin singing in my inner ear about thirty thousand pounds…of bananas…and roll up my sleeves.
This is typical of things at our house. Whatever comes your way, step up and take your at-bats (sorry…I’m in SF Giants country-anywhere, north of The Grapevine- and baseball analogies soak in). I had to break up my great canning caper because I ran out of 1) sealing rings; 2) jars. The pantry is getting pretty with tomatoes and pickles…among the other goodies.
By the end of the box, I was feeling seriously attacked by tomatoes. I ended up canning the last of the tomatoes after work, and finished around 11:00 p.m. Ugh! It’s worth it though… Look at those gorgeous jars packed tightly with meaty tomatoes!!
Killer Canned Tomato Halves
Equipment needed: Canning jars, sealing rings, sealing lids; jar lifter; water bath canning kettle; 2 more saucepans. Nice to have: Silicone potholder mitts, lid rack, lid magnet.
Ingredients needed: Tomatoes, lemon juice, salt, tomato juice or water.
10# tomatoes, peeled
salt (non iodized, for canning)
1/2 cup Lemon juice (7 Tbsps. total)
Wash and sterilize 7 pint jars.
Add 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 Tbsp. lemon juice to each jar as you fill it.
Fill each jar with whole or halved tomatoes
Add hot water or hot tomato juice to 1/4 inch from the top.
Wipe jar edge and apply 2 piece seal and ring.
Process in water bath canner for 35 minutes after water returns to a boil. (Fill the canning kettle rack while it’s suspended over the water. Bring the water to a boil before you drop the filled jars down into the kettle and start the timing.)
Lift jars, remove to draft free area to cool. When jars are completely cool, remove rings and wipe jars clean (tomato juice will likely leak during processing and is very sweet, and dries so that it is very difficult to open the jars after a period of time).
One really nice thing about this particular variety (as well as this farmer’s crop) is they are thick walled, meaty tomatoes, and they packed well. A lot of the time, there is a certain amount of air in the walls and seed pockets of the tomatoes themselves, and when they’re “raw-packed” (not cooked before the canning process) you’ll see a quantity of clear liquid at the bottom of the jars and the tomatoes look like they weren’t well packed. That didn’t happen with these. Nor did they need much water added to the jars to top them up. I packed the halves in as tightly as I could, and added maybe up to 2 Tablespoons of water to the jars. These tomatoes will even be good for home-made salsa in the middle of winter when there aren’t any decent tomatoes to be found. I’m so glad we slayed these Killer Tomatoes!
Julie & Julia is our November flick… Oooh…that will be FUN!!!