Thursday, February 28, 2013

My First Canning Adventure: Tomato Sauce

Over the last few weeks I have been channeling my inner 80 year old. For Lent I took on working on my kneeler for church. Yes, that's right, I needlepoint. So going with the old lady theme, I decided to take on canning. I have been super fascinated with it lately! After reading a million books on the techniques and tricks, I decided to give it a whirl.

Disclaimer: I am NOT an expert canner. This is my first attempt. EVER. I have not poisened anyone yet but no one has tried any of my sauce yet either! So forgive me if the science and amounts or anything is not up to par.

The first step in canning is getting the equipment. I started off by reading tons of books! I reccomend the Ball recipe book since they are in fact the canning experts. Also the book on the far left is wonderful as well! I bought mine on Amazon! Book One, Book Two, Book Three

Next comes the actual hardware. From all the sources I read you need a stainless steel stock pot. Other materials will react with your sauces. Copper is good too, but crazy expensive. I bought my big ole pot on Amazon. It is the Cuisinart kind that I knew I would use for other things as well as canning.

As far as canning supplies go I ordered this kit also found on Amazon. It comes with tongs, funnel, timer, stirer, magnetic lid placer and jar lifter tongs. 
I also went ahead and got a basket that dips the jars into the hot water bath...more on that later.
Ok, so now onto the actual food. I wanted to make a basic tomato sauce--one that could be turned into spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce or whatever you want!

This recipe makes 3 Pints

First you need 10 lbs of tomatoes. I bought roma. Luckily, my Kroger had a scale so I could weigh them! Cut off the ends and quarter them. Peel out the seeds with your fingers. Be prepared. It is A LOT of tomatoes. I watched some Pretty Little Liars while cutting :)

Here is where I veered a little from my recipe...they wanted me to heat everything and THEN puree it...instead of pouring hot tomatoes everywhere I pureed them first (don't worry, I found another recipe where someone did this).
Set all this aside. Dice up 2 small onions, garlic (I cheated and used the minced kind in a bottle) and about 2 tablespoons of basil.
In your big pot. Pour in some Olive Oil and cook your onions and garlic until translucent.
Add the pureed tomatoes and the fresh basil.
Now you cook and cook and cook. Bring it to a boil and then turn it to simmer for 45 minutes or until reduced by 1/3. It turns to a darker color too.
In the meantime, get everything else ready. In your big ole cheap pot (mine is from walmart) for the canning, put in tons of water to where it will be about 1 inch above the jars. Simmer the jars so they are hot for the sauce. I read a rule that says hot things go in hot jars and cool things go in cool jars.

In a separate little pot simmer the lids (not the rings).
When your sauce is done, use your tongs to pull out the jars and dump out the water. Put them on a clean towel to protect your table/counter. Using the funnel, fill your jars with sauce leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace.
In each jar you need to put a tablespoon of bottled lemon juice. Fill all the jars. Use the magnetic lid lifter and place them on the jar. Put on the rings and tighten them to just finger tight. When all the jars are ready, lower them back into the big pot with your rack. Bring the water to a boil and boil for 35 minutes.
After the time is up, pull up the basket and set the jars back on a towel and do not touch them for at least 12 hours. You will hear a popping sound when the lids seal. Touch the top after 1 hour and see if they pop in and out. If they do then yay! they are sealed. If not, then you need to refrigerate them ASAP!

Aren't they so cute?!?

Here is the original recipe from Ball for Basil-Garlic Tomato Sauce.

My final word on this is that it is not nearly as scary as I first thought it would be! I am sooo excited to try it all! Yum!

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