Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tomato Canning... with kids

I managed another tomato harvest yesterday afternoon. I'm really surprised at the quantity of tomatoes coming from the plants. Surprised and, of course, thrilled.
Mid-week canning can be a bit torturous and difficult since it's just me and the kids. I generally try my best to involve them in most of what I do, when my sanity allows (haha). Yesterday the kids were strangely agreeable so we got all the tomatoes cleaned and cut and roasted. I decided to do this batch something like this sauce recipe from Collecting The Moments. It really does make a great sauce to either can or freeze. I prefer to can my tomatoes so they're at the ready without having to think ahead to defrost them. There is a measure of comfort, too, knowing that if we lose electricity I won't lose all my hard work.

We made time for silly crafts with the oddball tomatoes too. Both kids were laughing at these two little surprises I set out for them SO HARD that they made me laugh so hard I cried. It was really hilarious.

There is plenty of taste testing for quality control as well.
And a few Hot Wheels and various other vehicles add to the adventure of the day.
This is a mix of Green Grape and a volunteer type. We all thought they were so pretty mixed together.
Roasted tomatoes cooling.

As a side note, one of the many things I love about preserving my own tomatoes is that I have full control of what goes into it. These go the chickens... I wonder what a factory would do with them? Yuck.
Here are our pots of sauce all blended and ready for canning. Gorgeous!

That's as far as we got yesterday. This morning the sun cleared to beautiful skies so the canning pot went out on the bbq side burner. I used to be such a bbq snob and would ONLY eat food that had been cooked over hardwood charcoal (no packed briquettes for me still unless I'm being a gracious guest). Once the kids came along and I realized how hard it was to get and keep those coals just so while juggling everything else we caved and bought a big dumb gas grill. I'm disgusted by how much I love that thing. It's just so darn... usefull. ha! And really, how great is canning OUTSIDE while the kids run around and play in the mud?!
And by noon the cans had made their way to a shelf in the pantry. I'm hoping to fill that shelf with more preserves as the tomatoes ripen. My shelves are looking much more sparse than usual this time of year!



Congratulations on your productivity. I notice you take your canning rings off. I leave mine on. Why do you remove yours?

Marlyn said...

I would die to have that pantry! Mine is looking pathetic!

Maybelline -- I can't speak for Erin but I used to take mine off because, 1) they are not necessary and 2) I could re-use them and own less! Somewhere along the way, I accumulated so many that I haven't been taking them off.

E, do you use a stick blender? And you left all the skins on?

Erin said...

Thank you Maybelline! I take the rings off because I check each seal before storing to be sure I'm not allowing any unsealed jars of food go to waste (been there, done that!) and because rings can rust. I looked around real quick for someone to say it better than I can but I must be tired because I only came up with this:

Marlyn I do leave the skins on. I just can't be bothered to remove them and the sauce comes out fabulously. Perhaps we are just not that particular? I do have an immersion blender but I couldn't find a piece to it so I ended up having to use the food processor. Which is fine, but the immersion blender makes for less work! Do you always remove the skins? I'm curious :)

Anonymous said...

We take most of our canning rings off..sometimes we get lazy and leave them. And we leave our tomato skins on too and just blend them up.

It is hard canning with two little guys running around, isn't it? Kudos on getting as much as you have done! Your pantry shelves are beautiful. We have those particle board/metal garage style ones and I've always thought that I want to build better looking shelves just to hold our beautiful canned goods. They deserve it, right?

My Ugly Garden said...

What a beautiful pantry. Yummy sauce, too. There are some nice looking heirloom tomatoes at my local grocery store, I may splurge and give your recipe a try.


Frugal said...

Love your shelves! I also take off the canning rings mainly so I can reuse them. Some people claim that skins and seeds make the sauce bitter...I've left them on and taken them off; never really noticed a difference.

Saffron Paisley said...

Erin! I don't know how you manage to grow and can so much. :) You are amazing and your shelves looks gorgeous and tasty!

Amanda said...

I found your blog looking for tips on canning on the side burner of a grill. Does it work well? I just found out I can't can on my glass top stove and I'm desperate to can all my garden tomatoes! I'd love any tips you have for using a side burner!!

amandalmckay at gmail dot com