Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Canning tomatoes in March - Wait, what?

Last month, during a field trip to Millican Produce, our tour guide and local farmers' market vendor Tanya Miller mentioned tossing large quantities of her beautiful green house tomatoes to the chickens because of blemishes barring them from sale at the local grocery stores and farmers' market. Of course, my first thought was canning. But with so much time spent in the green house and field, Tanya had little time to spare for canning, nor did a nearby friend to whom she would normally give the tomatoes. 

I immediately offered my canning services saying that should she again have a bag of imperfect tomatoes, I'd be happy to can them and either pay her for them or give a percentage of the canned tomatoes in return.

Then last week as we were closing up our mid-week farmers' market, Tanya came to my booth with a grocery bag just bursting with tomatoes! I asked if she rather I pay for them or give her a percentage of the jars back. "Neither," she said. "They're all yours!" So, can anyone guess what I've been up to?

Thankfully the next day was a rainy one I was able to spend the day in the kitchen - peeling, coring, cutting, cooking, and canning stewed tomatoes. Fourteen pint jars worth, to be exact! Mmmm, mmm! Aren't they gorgeous?

I had read that you don't have to use a pressure canner when you're canning tomatoes because of the high acidity, but that it creates a better end product. Well, we'll just wait and see because I canned half of them in the water bath and the other in the pressure canner. You can be sure I'll have a post one of these days comparing the two methods. 

In the meantime, some of those peels were saved and added to a stir fry at lunch (there's gotta be some healthy lycopene in there right?) and the remainder rest on my pantry shelf just waiting for a little rice, a pot of soup, or just about anything else my little heart desires. 

Thanks Tanya!


sharli said...


Jen said...

Oh those look amazing! Yay for you... free, local, yummy food.

I hope to teach myself to can this summer. I remember long days, as a child, watching my mom and grandmother canning the garden harvest. Those foods were so yummy to eat in the middle of winter.

Enjoy your tomatoes!

Farmer's Daughter said...

That's awesome!

Heather @ SGF said...

Sharli - It is! And it looks pretty on the shelf too :)

Jen - It's so much easier than I thought it would be (and fun!). Enjoy every minute - especially the moments you're eating all those canned goodies! That's the best part - the balance of the freshest, tastiest food and having it anytime you want it :)

Farmers' Daughter - It seemed kind weird to be canning tomatoes in March, but awesome is the right word for it. Who would have thought?

nomikins said...

To guarantee the appropriate acidity when water bath canning, it's advisable to add a teaspoon of commercially prepared lemon juice to pint jars and a tablespoon of lemon juice to quarts. I have done this with success for years.

Heather @ SGF said...

Nomikins - Thanks! That's a great tip!