Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A photojournalistic account of today's accomplishment: Canning 20 pounds of tomatoes!

Today the husband and kids went off to visit friends in Catheys Valley, there to build forts with legos, enjoy the heat, and celebrate our dear friend Tiffany's birthday. There will be birthday cake made and consumed. I will miss this part, because I stayed home to CAN 20 POUNDS OF TOMATOES.

I ordered the tomatoes last week after getting a notice in our CSA box that it being the right time of year, they are selling these boxes of tomatoes in order to prevent them being used in tomato wars between their workers (think water balloon fight, only more acidic and messy).

Today I picked up the box of tomatoes at just after 1pm, brought it home and began my task:

Here's my dish drainer full of the jars I would use. There's 18 of them, which was my estimate of how many I would use today. I washed these before I left to get the tomatoes.

Here's my "Bouquet Garni" for making tomato sauce. It's sprigs of rosemary, parsley, and oregano bound between a leek sliced lengthwise and a stalk of celery. Beautiful, no? I'd never made proper tomato sauce before today, so here goes...

Here's what 20 pounds of tomatoes looks like. There were 78 tomatoes there, not including the four over on the side, there, that were the ones in our regular CSA box. Thanks, Full Belly Farm!

Now time to get down to the serious business of making tomato sauce. I used the recipe for "Rich Tomato Sauce" found in Perfect Preserves: Provisions from the Kitchen Garden by Nora Carey. The recipe called for 6 pounds of tomatoes - lacking an actual scale I had to estimate this by dividing the number of tomatoes in my box by 20 pounds - I wonder how accurate the weighing was at Full Belly...Anyway, I wound up being short by one expected pint.

The first soon-to-be-boiling water bath: Three pints of tomato sauce and four pints of regular canned tomatoes. After this boiled I set the timer for 40 minutes and prepared the next batch of canned tomatoes...

There's the boiling water bath going on the left. On the other back burner I'm heating up four more pint jars which will be used for the tomatoes you see on the front burner. They're being heated up for a hot pack.

When I got to the end of these four jars in that pressure cooker (and one more that was left over from the first batch), I still had some tomatoes in my pot...but not really enough for another pint. Quickly I ran out to my garden and picked a bunch of my own tomatoes that were red. I got enough to round out two more pints. So I actually canned something OVER 20 pounds of tomatoes today. But, lacking a kitchen scale, I could not tell you exactly how much. If this information becomes vital to society it shall be researched.

Finally! The finished product. There's three pints of tomato sauce on the left, four pints of tomato juice on the right, and 11 pints of canned tomatos in the middle. Whew!

I had been thinking about ordering another box of tomatoes, but I may have my hands full canning what will be coming out of my own garden in these next weeks. However, in two weeks I am expecting a box of peaches, so stay tuned!