So what do you do when it's real hot and you want to make something with fresh tomatoes...you hit up the farmers market and hope for the best. I decided to can some tomatoes for the winter months and found out soon after the taste difference was out of this world.
My selection: The tomatoes at in the top half of the photo are Pink Bradleys I bought from the amazing folks at Downing Hollow Farms (my favorite was the ginormous tomato that's turned right side up-loved that one tons). The more red tomatoes are a classic variety I bought at the Downtown Farmers Market.
I lugged all my tomatoes home,bribed my amazing husband to help me blanch and peel all of these...ummm like 15 pounds or so (what a saint he was that day) and we were off to can some tomatoes. Here's a brief visual tutorial of how to get your tomatoes ready to pack into jars or rather blanch,peel and core tomatoes.
(After you've rinsed off all the tomatoes) Flip all the tomatoes bottom side up and using a paring knife score or slice an X shape on the bottom of each tomato. This helps in peeling the tomatoes,sort of like leaving a bookmark in your book,you'll see,hang tight.
Next step ( I don't have pics for this,so go with me here) have one big pot of boiling going and GENTLY drop the tomatoes in a few at a time. Let them cook for 30-60 seconds and then CAREFULLY with a slotted spoon take them out of the pot and immediately immerse them into an ice bath. You will know when they are ready to come out of the hot water when the skins start to crack around the X mark. The ice cold water will stop the cooking process and also cool down those HOT tomatoes.
Take the tomatoes out of the ice bath,move them to a cutting board.(notice the hand towel underneath the board,this little project can get messy quick so line your work space with a towel,it'll help...)
The skins have loosened from the body of the tomato and the X marks the spot where to start peeling and the skin should come off pretty easy.
Peel,core and quarter the tomato. That's the quick story on how to peel and core tomatoes. I say quick because when you are working with 15lbs or so of tomatoes,you gotta move quick or you will drown in tomatoes and it won't be pretty. Next continue on with your recipe,whether it be homemade tomato sauce or in this case... canning those goodies.
Here's what happened after that mess,it came out beautiful and my husband even helped do the dishes... what a Saturday afternoon it was,thanks honey.
Raw-Packed Tomatoes with No-Added Liquid
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving ,page 356
* you will need about 3 lbs of tomatoes per quart (1L) jar
Bottled lemon juice
1. Prepare canner,jars and lids.
2. Working in small batches,immense tomatoes in boiling water for 30-60 seconds or until the skins start to loosen or crack. Immediately plunge into a bowl of cold water and slip the skins off. Remove cores and any bruised or discolored portions that become apparent after blanching. Leave whole,halve or quarter.
3. Before packing each jar of raw tomatoes add lemon juice ( per pint- 1 TBL per quart- 2TBL ) and salt (if using) per pint- 1/2tsp ,per quart- 1 TBL . Add these ingredients to each jar BEFORE YOU ADD THE TOMATOES.
4. Pack the raw tomatoes into the prepared jars to within a generous 1/2 inch headspace of the top of jar. Press the tomatoes into the jar until the spaces between them fill with juice,leaving 1/2i nch headspace. Remove air bubbles, adujst headspace and add tomatoes if necessary. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met,then increase to fingertip-tight.
5. Place jars in canner,ensuring the are completely covered with water by at least one inch.Bring to a boil and process PINT jars and QUART jars for 85 minutes. Remove the canner lid,wait 5 minutes,then remove jars,cool and store.
The flavor is pretty amazing,rich and unforgettable.I made a great soup with these tomatoes a few days later and really enjoyed the gift of summer. The recipe will come later,for now can some tomatoes,you will thank yourself come winter time,Enjoy!