- Success!!!! My dear friends we have tried a garden for three seasons now. Each year giving us variable amount of crops. This year though was different. We mapped it out, made our plot bigger and everything was done from seed. We even planted later than anticipated due to several illnesses hitting us all at once.
My husband has put in hours of countless research and hard work into our garden this year. Our main crops were tomatoes and jalapenos. Alongside cucumbers, onions, pumpkins, bell peppers, chile rellenos, zucchini, and spaghetti squash.
Our main goal each year is to supply ourselves with the main items we buy at the grocery store i.e. corn, tomatoes, green beans, etc.
So far we have had great success with our tomatoes (I think our drip system helped a lot).
I did not measure it out but so far we have yielded at least 60 to 70 lbs of Tomatoes possibly even more.
Now I have heard that you can get that from just one plant if you do it right. Ours are off of twelve plants (Roma , Organic and Steak). Next year we will, I believe, only be more successful with the more we learn over time. Again this is only our third season.
Tomatoes are a huge staple in our house. We use canned diced Tomatoes for everything from pizza sauces to a simple spaghetti dish. Usually we pay at least .58 cents per can at our Local Winco Foods. Now that isn’t half bad. That is usually the cheapest unless we hit the Smith’s case lot sale in which we can get them knocked down to .50 cents per can.
Now I am not one with numbers and math so I can not tell you how much we saved, if any, on growing our own and canning. I know that in the long run the investments we have made with our soil, our seed packets, and canning materials will be all worth it in the long run.
Sustainability is the key to our future. We have lost this ability over generations. I am hoping along with my mom we can bring it back. Stocking our own food storage with our own goods produced in our backyard.
Now that I have said that let’s get on to the simplest canning recipe for tomatoes.
We like to use the pint jars for our diced tomatoes.
We have done two sets of NINE pint jars of DICED TOMATOES. The first set with Lemon and the second with citric acid.
Trying to not bring the stem and leaves with each Tomato.
Go back inside Rinse them well.
Wash with soap and water, glass jar and ring, especially if they are from last season. Checking along the top rim of the glass for any knicks. Even the smallest one. If there are any toss or save the glass jar for a cute little future craft. While washing up the canning jars we set a 10 quart stock pot on to boil with a steam basket. Trashing the lid from last season and placing the new lids you need into a water bath. We use a 8 x 10 non stick baking sheet with a quarter inch of water in the bottom set directly onto the burner. Along with that we prepare are VICTORIO steam canner and set aside on a burner. Not turning it on until maybe the fifth jar is being filled.
While everything is warming up we prepare our jars. Put a 1/2 tsp of Morton Canning and Pickling Salt into the bottom of each jar (The salt is totally optional no need to actually add it but I think it really helps the flavor of the Tomatoes).
Also add either a Tablespoon of Lemon Juice or 1/4 teaspoon citric acid to the bottom of each jar ( We used Lemon in our first nine made two weeks ago and citric acid in the ones we made today). Citric acid is added to up the acidic level and to help improve the quality of the shelf life.
Once that is set up now it is the time to give those sweet Tomatoes a water bath or blanch them in cooking terms. Take your empty steam basket and fill maybe halfway and immerse the tomatoes in the bath for up to 90 seconds. I like when I can just slice the tip off the Tomato and the skin just peels off.
Then slicing it in half and into quarters.
Keep doing these two steps until you have filled your jars within a 1/2 inch from the top. Squishing the tomatoes down to release some of the juices. Some people will dice the Tomatoes and then fill with boiling water but my mom taught me that her father a farmer from North Ogden would just push down on the tomatoes to fill the jar up not only with fresh diced tomatoes but their yummy juices.
A much tastier pizza sauce or dish will ensue without being watered down in flavor. Once each jar is filled wipe any spill or sticky from the rim of the glass.
Place the lid that has been simmering in hot water in our 8 x 10 baking sheet onto each jar. Place a ring on each jar tightening to only hand tight or fingertip tight. Place all NINE filled jars into the steam canner. Top it off with the lid and follow instructions on which altitude level you are at on the gauge. Here in UTAH we have to get it all the way to the green area.
Once it hits that mark on your gauge time for Ten minutes.
We set up a little space with a few hands towels for the cans once they are done. Placing them on the a towel and covering with another. Then you wait for the chorus of tin lids popping if they have not already.
Then viola you are done and deserve a huge high five because well you just canned your first or for me second set of diced tomatoes for the season. Woo HOO!!! Seriously. It is a huge accomplishment. It makes me feel so good to know we are providing such sweet nutrients for our family from our very own garden from our very own hands.
Next step will be to get to know corn and green beans better. We can only plan and wait until our next season.
Approx. 20 lbs Tomatoes (we used mainly Romas)
1/2 Teaspoon of Pickling Salt for every jar of needed
1/4 Teaspoon Citric Acid or 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice for every jar needed
1 – 10 Quart Stock pot
1- Steam Basket
9 Pint Ball or Kerr Jars
9 Fresh Lids and Rings
- Pick and Rinse Tomatoes or Purchase and Rinse
- Fill Stock Pot up 3/4 full water. Place on burner bring to a boil.
- Wash and Dry Canning Jars
- Place Jar lids onto an 8×10 baking sheet with a 1/2 inch of water to cover lids. Simmer while you continue on with the next steps.
- Fill bottom of each jar with Pickling Salt and Citric Acid
- Place a good amount of Tomatoes into steam basket. Place steamer basket into boil stock pot for 60 seconds.
- Remove and dump basket onto prepared cutting board area (I like to place a big baking sheet underneath to catch the Tomato Juice).
- Slice end off of tomato and peel. The skin should just slice right off. Slice into quarters and place into jar. Pushing and squeezing down juices.
- During this process you can prep the Steamer Canner. Filling water up to desired level and bringing to a boil/simmer.
- Repeat step SEVEN until Jars are filled within an 1/2 an inch from the top.
- Place jar lid that has been simmering on to wiped clean top. Leaving no residue of tomato or the jar will not sill.
- Place ring onto jar and tighten to fingertip or hand tight.
- Place all NINE of your jars into the steamer canner. Read the instructions to find the elevation you are at to see where the indicator needs to be.
- Once it reaches the desired level. Time for TEN minutes.
- Once time the time is up. Place onto towel with a towel over the top. Let cool and if the tin lid has not made its lovely popping sound wait for the chorus of popping.
- Once cooled LABEL and date. A year from the date canned is your best used by date. The canned Tomatoes should be good up to 2 years after date canned.