As summer wanes, I am buoyed by the harvest – so beautiful and so productive. This week is tomatoes and peaches (purchased in eastern WA), dilly beans, and pesto.
Last year my sweetie gifted me a comprehensive guide to preserving food; ‘Keeping the Harvest’ by Chioffi & Mead. I have a variety of how-tos, but this one is both comprehensive, and very straightforward.
I have always raw-packed my canned fruits, but this year I decided to follow C&M’s recommended method and tried hot-packing my tomatoes and peaches. Turns out hot packing is less work than raw packing. E.g., for tomatoes, the boiling bath processing time drops from 85 min to 40 min. Additionally, by cooking out the air prior to canning, less space is wasted inside each jar, AND fewer jars are needed cause you can cook down the tomatoes into a sauce of your desired consistency. Their method also called for a food mill instead of peeling the tomato skins.
Unfortunately, using a food mill for tomatoes was not a good idea in my case. After quartering the tomatoes and cooking them for an hour, sure the food mill retained the seeds and tomato skins, but it also retained the pulp – not much got through but the juice. After one ladle of this method, I gave up on the food mill and set us to work with chop sticks, picking out the quartered tomato skins. Skinning tomatoes takes a lot of time. I don’t mind tomato seeds in my sauce, so I will probably try the chopstick method again next time.
I am sold on hot packing. The jars sealed successfully (well, 4/5 with the 5th becoming dinner), the tomatoes are further along their way to becoming sauce, and >25 lbs became 5 full jars instead of 8 or 10 filled 50% with tomato, 25% with juice, and 25% with air.
If you have favourite methods or tricks to trade, leave me a note!