Canning Tomato Products

Gardens are exploding with ripening tomatoes, and we are all trying to eat and preserve this wonderful fruit.  Tomatoes are versatile in food preparation and provide important vitamins and minerals for healthy diets.  The “USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning,” publication available online, includes the basics of canning tomatoes into juices, sauces, whole or crushed, ketchup, and salsas.  The canned spaghetti sauce is one of the favorites because families can use it to quickly prepare a great tasting spaghetti sauce for the family all winter.

Recommendations are given for many tomato products to be processed in both the pressure canner or the boiling water canner.  So, even if you don’t have a pressure canner, you could still process many tomato products for winter enjoyment.   Always select only disease-free firm fruit for canning.  Vine ripened fruit is preferable when available.  Of course, do not can tomatoes from dead or frost killed vines.  Green tomatoes can be canned with any of the canning product recommendations.

One of the most important food safe basics for canning whole, crushed, or juiced tomatoes is to acidify every jar before tomato product is placed in the jar by adding two tablespoons of bottled lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid per quart of tomatoes. If you are canning pints, use one tablespoon bottled lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon citric acid per jar.  If you prefer a less acid taste, add sugar to each jar.   Never adjust amounts of acid added.  If you don’t have lemon juice or citric acid, 5 percent acidity vinegar can be used as an acidifier by adding four tablespoons per quart.  But be aware that vinegar may cause flavor changes.  Acidification is required for both pressure canning and boiling water canning.

Juice tomatoes are plentiful and a bushel will yield 15 to 18 quarts
of juice that can be used as a beverage or as an ingredient in many
recipes.  If you have a little less than a bushel of tomatoes for
juice, you might want to try the tomato and vegetable juice blend.  I
like to use the juice blend as the liquid for crock-pot cooking as
well as a refreshing beverage.  A bushel of tomatoes will yield 17-20
quarts of crushed tomatoes to use in soups, stews, and casseroles.  If you use a lot of sauce in Italian dishes, a bushel of tomatoes will
yield 7 to 9 quarts of thick sauce.  And, for spaghetti sauce you’ll
need 30 pounds of tomatoes, slightly over a half-bushel, for 9 pints
of sauce.  You can preserve “Easy Hot Sauce” and “Cayenne Pepper
Sauce” with canned diced tomatoes.  With about ½ bushel tomatoes, you can make your own ketchup.   And with 8 quarts of finely chopped paste tomatoes, you can make 16-18 pints of your own taco sauce.

So, with tomatoes ripening in gardens and available from local
farmers, now is the time to take a look at the Complete Guide to Home Canning’s 25 tomato product recipes.  Check out the publication online or to receive a copy from your Extension Center call 682-6186.  More tomato recipes are available at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website at http//nchfp.uga.edu.  A “Tomato Canning Class” will be held on August 16 at  2:00 pm and 5:30 pm at the Mitchell County Senior Center.  Materials fee is $5.  Phone registration required.

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