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How To Can Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a high-acid food and therefore may be canned using a water-bath canner.  Here are the steps needed to can tomatoes:

1. Gather your equipment.  Even an easy job can become difficult if you do not have the right equipment.  So gather the following equipment and supplies.

A.  Tomatoes and ingredients:  Be picky when you select your tomatoes.  You only want fresh, firm tomatoes that are of deformities – no cracks, growths, or spots.

B.  You will need the following equipment:

1 Water bath canner and canning rack.  The Norpro Bath Canner is perfect for the job.

1 Large Stock Pot

Pint or quart sized canning jars

Fruit Skin Peeler

Lids & Rings

1 Jar Lifter

1 Lid Lifter

1 Jar Funnel

Large spoon and ladel

2. Prepare Jars and Lids.  Visually examine canning jars for deformities.  Discard any jars with nicks, cracks, uneven rims or sharp edges.  Canning lids should be free of dents.  Make sure bands fit properly.   jars and caps in hot, soapy water, then thoroughly rinse.  Heat jars in hot water (180 degress Farenheit or 82 degrees Celsius) but do NOT boil.  Jars and lids should remain in the simmering water until you are ready to use them.

3. Place your tomatoes into stockpot.  You may use a wire basket like the one shown here.  The tomatoes should blanch for approximately 30 to 60 seconds.  Remove the tomatoes when their skins show signs of cracking and immediately dip them into cold water.

4. Peel the tomatoes.  For convenience you may use a skin peeler like the one shown here.  Trim away any green areas and cut out core. Cut your tomatoes to a desired size.

5. Remove canning jar from hot water with a jar lifter; set jar on towel. Add 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice to each pint jar, 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice to each quart jar.

6. Place tomatoes into hot jar, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Ladle boiling water or cooking liquid over tomatoes, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt per pint jar or 1 teaspoon salt per quart jar, if desired.

7. Relase air bubbles.  Slide a nonmetallic spatula between tomatoes and jar, press back gently on tomatoes to release trapped’ air bubbles. Repeat procedure 2 to 3 times around inside of jar.

8. Clean up. Wipe rim and threads of jar with a dean, damp cloth. Remove lid from hot water using a lid wand. Place lid on jar, centering sealing compound on rim. Screw band down evenly and firmly, just until resistance is met-fingertip tight.

9. Start canning process.  As each jar is filled, set it onto the elevated rack in the boiling-water canner. Water in canner should be kept at a simmer (180°F or 82°C). After all jars are filled and placed onto the rack, lower rack into canner. Water must cover the two-piece caps on the jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.  Put lid on canner and bring to a boil. Start counting processing time after water comes to a rolling boil. Process pints 40 minutes, quarts 45 minutes, at a gentle but steady boil for altitudes at or below 1,000 feet above sea level. For higher altitude areas, consult your local extension office.

10. When processing time is complete, turn off heat and remove canner lid. Let canner cool minutes before removing jars. Remove jars from canner and set them upright, 1 to 2 inches apart, on a dry towel to cool. Do not retighten bands. Let jars cool 12 to 24 hours.

11.  Confirm proper seal.  After the jars have cooled down, confirm the lids have properly seals by pressing on the center of each lid.  If the center does not bulge, remove the band and try to lift the lid with your fingetips.  If the lid does not bulge and you are unable to lift the lid, the lid has sealed properly!  That's it - congratulations!  

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