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If you have been following the blog, you know that the garden has been yielding up its bounty recently. I have been picking cucumbers, green beans, potatoes, herbs galore, peppers, and every home gardener’s favorite, tomatoes. I have canned for years, having learned how as a kid at my Mom’s elbow. If you want to try your hand at preserving your tomato harvest, here is what you’ll need.

Clean quart glass canning jars
NEW lids to fit the jars- these must be new!
Rings to fit the jars
Jar lifter tongs
Canning jar funnel
Water bath canner
Canning or kosher salt
Teaspoon measuring spoon
Wooden spoon
One clean towel and one clean dish cloth or paper towel
Assemble your materials. I like to have a clean towel on the counter top to catch drips. Place your clean jars into the canner along with the lids and fill with water. Place canner on the stove with the lid on and turn the burner on to medium high to high. In the meantime, heat another pot of water on the stove. Once it reaches boiling, place several tomatoes in the hot water for five minutes.

Remove the tomatoes from the hot water and place into a sink full of cold water to stop the cooking.

Using a paring knife, remove the cores and any bad spots. The skin will slip easily off the tomatoes. Cut larger tomatoes into quarters or smaller, small tomatoes cut in half. Do not leave whole, because sometimes bad spots hide inside and one bad tomato will ruin the entire jar!

By now, your jars and lids should be hot. Remove one jar at a time from the canner, place the funnel in the mouth of the jar and place tomatoes into the jar, using the wooden spoon to compact them.

Fill to within 1/2″ of the top of the jar and add a teaspoon of canning or kosher salt, if desired. Those on low sodium diets can leave it out.

Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth,

Place a lid on the jar,

Screw on a ring and tighten by hand firmly,

place the full jar back into the canner and repeat with all the other jars.

Once all the jars are full and back in the canner, cover the canner and bring the heat up to boil. The jars should be 1-2″ under water in the canner. Keep at a low boil for 45 minutes for quarts. If you choose to can in pint jars, process for 40 minutes. Processing times given are for at or below 1,000 feet above sea level. If you live at a higher altitude, you will need to add about five minutes for each 3,000 foot increase.

Once the jars are done processing, use the jar lifter to remove them from the canner to cool on the towel covered counter. As the jars cool, you will begin to hear the lids ping as they seal. It is important that you do not touch the lids until they have all sealed. Once the jars have cooled, place them on your pantry shelf and admire your handiwork!
Now, come next January, when everyone else is wasting money on plastic, crunchy, imported tomato substitutes, you can still enjoy the summery perfection of your own home grown tomatoes! Try your hand at preserving summer and make life DIY!