Tomatoes Coming Out Our Ears
I’ve been trying to grow tomatoes for years. Sometimes I get nothing at all for yield, and sometimes I get nothing until September. We have too darn much shade to get a good growth of anything but the earliest herbs, lettuces and other cold loving vegetables.
This year my pastor and his wife, both dear friends, had a bumper crop from their 150 plants, and let go of a giant bag of goodies to us of two nice varieties. Now we have tomatoes coming out our ears! Right away we shared some with our nearby neighbors then I made some fresh salsa in the blender of 6 tomatoes squeesed of their juice (I reserved the juice for the next project), an jalapeno pepper, an onion, a tbsp of freshly chopped cilantro, a clove of garlic, and a good dash of salt and pepper. This fresh salsa will keep several weeks in the ‘fridge.
The next project was a batch of whole peeled tomatoes processed in the pressure cooker. I have never canned tomatoes before but I am having fun learning this skill, first by experimenting with berry preserves. The acid in tomatoes is almost high enough that high temperature processing is not necessary. Just a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice and a teaspoon of salt per quart jar takes the acidity into the safe zone. It can be done in a stock pot boiled 45 minutes, or in a pressure canner/cooker for 25 minutes. I opted for the pressure method because yes, 20 minutes makes that much difference in my day.
To begin. I blanched the tomatoes in boiling water for just one minute then let them cool on a plate until I could handle them. I cut out the core and the blanching made it so the skin could almost be rubbed off. I peeled all the tomatoes and stuffed about 5 into each sanitized jar. I added the juice that was on the plate and some of the juice left over from making the salsa plus the lemon juice and salt until the jars had 1/2 inch of head space. I applied the sanitized lids and bands and put them in the hot water of the pressure cooker. I cooked them 25 minutes and let the steam die down naturally. When the pressure was down enough, I removed the lid and took out these lovely jars of vine ripened tomatoes that we will enjoy come winter. Now, just three more batches to go.