August Can Jam ~ Tomatoes Three Ways

Tomatoes.  There is something about a ripe tomato that simply screams, “Summer!”   Unfortunately, tomato season doesn’t last forever.  Unless, of course, you buy mealy, flavorless, South American tomatoes all winter but that is an entirely different post.  Today we’re talking about preserving the fresh, local bounty that is right outside our doors.  

I planted tomatoes this year, but my uncooperative plants have thus far yielded me only 4-5 tomatoes a day.  This is perfect to keep us in fresh tomatoes for lunch, dinner and small batches of salsa to snack on, but not enough for preserving.  Maybe I’ll have to try this method next year.  Enter, the Farmers’ Market.  Dylan and I walked down to the market this morning to pick up some tomatoes for The Jam.  Even though I knew I was going to buy large quantities of tomatoes, I still didn’t have the sense to bring the wagon with me.  I proceeded to buy a half bushel of tomatoes, a peck of apples, six ears of corn, two giant green peppers, five onions and . . . 

A cantaloupe. 

Fortunately I had Dylan to help me drag the stuff  back home.   We stopped for breaks many times. 

The tomatoes were the best score of my summer market season so far.  I paid $3 for a half bushel of tomatoes!!!  They were seconds, perfect for canning.  She made me promise to use them that day so that they wouldn’t spoil and many of them had blemishes, but none of them were bad and I can’t beat the savings; quarts of tomatoes were $4 or more. 

I promised I’d process the tomatoes today, so I did.  Here you go: 

Round 1: Salsa 

Homemade salsa

At a jar a week, I only need about 46 more.

  • 16 cups peeled tomatoes
  • 2 medium onions
  • 3 cups chopped bell pepper
  • hot peppers, minced; I used a blend. 
    Hot peppers

    These chilies made a VERY mild salsa.

    Several of my own Bolivian rainbow chilies and a couple of mystery peppers from the Farmers’ Market.  I seeded the mystery peppers, but left the seeds in the little peppers 

  • 7 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 T. cumin
  • scant 1/4 C. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups lemon and/or lime juice

Prepare your jars and boiling water bath.
Chop the onions and bell peppers.  Squeeze most of the water and some of the seeds out of the tomatoes before chopping them.  I used a food processor to mince the garlic and peppers, but I chopped everything else by hand. 
Dump it all into a big pot and bring to a boil. 
Simmer until it reaches a consistency you like. 
Ladle salsa into hot, sterile jars; add lids and process thirty minutes. 

This recipe made ten pints plus a little bowl for us to eat right away. 

Round 2: Sauce 

Tomato-Basil Sauce

The sauce isn't really this yellow, it's actually a lovely orange.

  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3/4 C. carrot, chopped
  • 1 C. celery leaves and all, chopped
  • 1/4 C. parsley, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 C. chopped fresh basil*
  • 7 lbs. peeled tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 T. honey
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 T. lemon juice per pint

Prepare your jars and boiling water bath.
In a large pot, saute onion, carrot, celery and parsley in a little water.
Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
Increase heat to medium high; add garlic and saute for one minute.
Add tomatoes, honey and basil.  *The basil can be left out if you want a more neutral (read: not Italian) sauce.
Salt and pepper to taste.
If you are going to use this as a pasta sauce, it is fine in its chunky state, but I like to use mine for pasta AND pizza, so I puree mine for a smoother consistency.  If you have a stick blender, run it through the sauce to smooth it out.  If, like me, your stick blender is dead, dump the sauce in batches into your blender and puree until smooth.  Return the sauce to the pan and bring to a boil.
Ladle sauce and 2 tablespoons* lemon juice into hot, sterile pint jars; add lids and process thirty-five minutes. 

*If you use larger or smaller jars, adjust the amount of lemon juice you add to each jar; the acid is necessary for food safety during storage. 

This recipe made four pints. 

Round 3: Ketchup 

Or is it catsup?

One tiny jar.

Disclaimer:  I have never made ketchup before.  The other recipes are tried-and-true, but the ketchup is an experiment. 

Remember this book? 

Freezing and Canning Cookbook: Prized Recipes from the Farms of America

Cool, huh? Don't you just want to run out and make a gelatin mold?

It has several ketchup recipes in it, but we are canning tomatoes, so I modified the straight-up Tomato Ketchup recipe.  The most difficult thing was adjusting the seasonings; it’s hard to divide fractions of teaspoons.

  • 2 lbs. peeled tomatoes
  • 1/2 meduim onion, chopped
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 C.  vinegar
  • 5 cloves
  • 4 allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. celery seeds
  • 1/4 tsp, cracked cinnamon stick
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt

When the ingredient listing on the ketchup label says, "spices" this is what they mean.

Prepare your jars and boiling water bath.
Put vinegar and spices into a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and turn off heat.
Put tomatoes, onions and cayenne into saucepan. Use this to chop up the tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Dust off your food mill.  Run the tomato mixture through the food mill and return to the pot.  Add sugar and simmer until volume is reduced by half.  It takes about an hour and a half.
Strain vinegar to remove spices.  Add salt to vinegar and add to tomato mixture.  Boil, uncovered, until thick.  Again, the cooking takes a long time; about another hour but I didn’t boil it on high because I didn’t want to burn it.
Pour into hot jars and process 15 minutes. 

This made one, 8 oz. jar.  I haven’t tried it yet, but if it is good, I’ll make some more. 

Oh, and the chickens LOVE canning season.



Filed under canning, food

5 responses to “August Can Jam ~ Tomatoes Three Ways

  1. I’m going to be canning some tomatoes for the first time this year (assuming my tomato plants get it together and start giving me more than 2 tomatoes a day)
    Ive always wanted to try making ketchup!

  2. These look great! And for the record I think your weather and setup have as much to do with the number of tomatoes you are getting than any grow method. Last year I for sure beat the pants off of Joshua’s tomato harvest, despite the large size of his very impressive tomato trees.

    • aastricker

      I made the mistake of not staking my tomatoes this year. By the time I got around to it, everybody was drooping. Next year I’ll stake right away so the lovelies have a place to rest.

  3. Pingback: Simple Lives Thursday « Notes From a Country Girl Living in the City

  4. Ambitious! I’m the founder/moderator for Punk Domestics (, a community site for those of use obsessed with, er, interested in DIY food. It’s sort of like Tastespotting, but specific to the niche. I’d love for you to submit this to the site. Good stuff!

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