Canning a little bit of summer

Rosesareblue asked,

did you do an old post on how you did those cherry tomatoes in the oven and then Canned them? If not you should give us a post on that.

An oblong mesh egg basket full of small tomatoes in red, yellow and green
Just-picked tomatoes, stems, dried leaves, dirt, and all

So here we go, with the steps I use, here. Where I live.

How come these tomatoes are all so small? We live at nearly 44 N in a cold place, so our growing season is really short. Our theoretical last date of frost is June 1. This year we had a frost on June 20. The theoretical first frost date is September 24. We haven’t had one yet, but it could happen any day. So we grow things that ripen fast, and that means little grape and cherry tomatoes. And we are picking ALL of them when there is threat of frost, even the green ones. We just keep harvesting them until the plants die. Someday I’m building a passive solar greenhouse. But until then, we’re stuck with short-season varieties.

A double sink with two strainers, a bowl full of tomatoes and water and a small metal tray

I prefer to work as efficiently as possible (it leaves more time to do funner things like knitting). So I wash, sort, and de-stem them all in one step.

The bowl of water is empty.  The small tray contains stems and rejected tomatoes.  One strainer has cracked tomatoes, the other has intact tomatoes

I use my salad spinner basket and bowl in case the water is especially dirty; that way I can swish them around, lift them out in the basket, and re-rinse in clean water.

Cracked or punctured fruit are put to one side for immediate use. Ones that are squishy little water balloons are rejected into the compost, along with the stems, dried leaves, grass, etc. Nice firm fruit with intact skins are put into a bigger basket to drain. They will last another day or two, if this batch is too big to process in one go, or if something comes up and I have to postpone baking and canning.

A close-up of cracked and punctured fruits, which otherwise look good (not mushy)
Cracked fruits need to be used immediately

Next I grab a handy baking dish, drizzle olive oil in the bottom, and cut each of the cracked fruits in half, and toss into the baking dish. A few small hot peppers also got picked so I cut them into small pieces and tossed them in, as well.

A counter holds a scale reading “17g” with an olive oil dispenser on it, a 4-qt round casserole dish with olive oil, small bits of red pepper, and the cracked tomatoes sliced in half.  There is a cutting board and paring knife.  A colander of intact fruit waits to be sliced

When about half of the tomatoes have been sliced, I sprinkle some salt and black pepper on top, then finish slicing the rest of the fruit.

The scale now holds a small salt box and reads “-5g”.  There is salt and pepper sprinkled on the pile of sliced tomatoes in the casserole dish.  The colander is about half full of the remaining tomatoes

The last step before baking is to weigh the whole thing, dish and all, so I know how much raw tomato went into the batch. This will be important later for logging into my food tracker, and estimating any additional salt needed for the canning step.

  • Baking dish = 1106g
  • Olive oil = 17g
  • Salt = 5g
  • Total weight = 2968g
  • So the tomatoes & peppers = 1840g
The filled casserole dish sits on the scale, which reads, “2968g”.

I stick the uncovered dish into the oven, and bake for 3 hours at 300F. This oven only does a max of 2 hours, so we’ll do that and then one additional hour, stirring in between.

An open convection toaster oven with the casserole dish inside.  The display reads, “300F, convection, 2:00”
A close-up of the display, now reading, “150C, convection, 2:00”
For people on a more sensible measuring system, my Australian toaster oven (Breville) says 300F is approximately 150C.

Since this is an off-grid operation, double check to make sure we have sufficient electricity. Yup, more is coming in than going out, even with the oven on and thick clouds, so we’re good to go. ✅

A solar inverter / controller display showing 1.6 kWcoming in and 1.4 kW going out, battery at 95%
The casserole dish showing tomatoes starting yo dehydrate and roast
After an hour the tomatoes on top are starting to shrivel. Stir them under. In this case I added a batch I’d roasted but not yet canned, and returned the dish to the oven for more roasting.
Now the tomatoes on top are nicely browned and shriveled
After 3 hours the tops are nicely browned. Stir them under to distribute the flavor.
A small spatula is wiping down the bathtub ring of browned tomato juice around the edge of the dish
Stir in the browned, concentrated juice along the sides.

This is a good stopping point if you are busy and want to finish tomorrow, or just freeze the tomatoes.

If you want to can them now, return the dish to a 300F oven and prepare your canning setup:

  • Clean jars with matching canning lids (check them first)
  • Salt
  • A big pot of boiling water to serve as your water bath, with a lid
  • A large mouth funnel
  • A ladle
  • A dish to set the hot drippy ladle and funnel on, between jars
  • Plenty of hotpads

Fill the pot up halfway and start the water boiling. When it’s at a rolling boil, you’re ready to fill the jars.

Put 1-2 tablespoons of salt in the bottom of each jar and use the ladle and funnel to fill each jar one by one, capping tightly when the tomatoes are 1-2cm from the top. Place the filled jar in your waterbath.

One jar is already in the water bath.  The second is being filled. A third stands waiting

When you have all the jars in the water bath, put the lid back on the pot and keep it boiling for 20 minutes.

A big stock pot halfway full of boiling water holds three 1-qt jars of tomatoes.
I took the lid off so you can see the jars, but the lid should be on during the 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, take each jar out one by one and test the lid to make sure it is tight. Turn upside down and cool on a hotpad.

Three upside-down quart jars, sitting on hotpads

When they are cool you can label and store them. A little taste of summer to add to recipes when fresh tomatoes aren’t available 🙂

Three right-side-up quart jars of canned tomatoes, ready to put into the pantry

Sock update: Tomorrow I start the heels!

A sock is stretched on a cardboard foot outline.  The live edge with the cable reaches a line near the heel.  A blurry black and white cat is rubbing his cheek against the sock.

20 thoughts on “Canning a little bit of summer”

    1. Yup. It is so nice in February to pull some green beans or a zucchini boat out of the freezer, or make soup or pasta sauce with these tomatoes! Way more flavor than commercially canned ones, and they don’t have that metallic aftertaste… 🙂

    1. Thanks! Yep I enjoy having our own produce. It’s nice knowing these are OUR tomatoes (or beans, squash, mushrooms, etc) We can also make it exactly the way we want, and we know what’s in it! 😊

  1. That was fascinating! I always followed Chef Meg’s recipe for roasted tomatoes. Hopefully I still have that recipe. I would use them in my chili recipe.
    It is quite a process to freeze summer’s best! (((HUGS)))

  2. I wish I had enough cherry tomatoes to do this . They make such a nice sauce. Thanks for showing the process

  3. Thanks for sharing this process. I plant two tomato plants in May and in July I get quite a few of them ripe and ready to eat. Now it’s Oct 17th and I just picked the last of them and put them in the front southern facing window to finish repining. This is late for us to still have tomato’s on the vine. The weather was really different this year. I think the middle of July is a bit early to have ripe tomatoes but for the last two years that is what it has been. Anyway I hope these get ripe enough for eating. We make lots of salads.

    1. Mmm fresh tomatoes, never refrigerated, in salad, is wonderful!

      Ours were extremely late to ripen this year. I don’t think we really started getting them until September! 😳

  4. Thank you ; so much work , but , it’d wonderful for you to enjoy in the middle of the winter . The roasted tomatoes would be good on top of toast . Or as a quick and simple soup . What’s your favorite spices with tomatoes . I like Italian or Summer Savory . That was a wonderful post . Very kind of you to write it all out . I also thought you did do it very organized . Take care .

  5. This is a wonderfully detailed description, bet the tomato ‘sauce’ extends your wonderful fruits harvest and you can enjoy the taste and addition to the recipes for many months. Thanks

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