Can You Can? #CanningTomatoes

Beautiful quart jars of canned tomatoes!

Why in God's name would anyone in their right mind can tomatoes? And what the hell IS canning tomatoes? Should I wear a bonnet while I can, should I can with my other wives? So many questions, someone, save me!

Okay, calm down.  Canning tomatoes is nirvana, canning tomatoes is akin to achieving a supernatural happiness, canning tomatoes is pure bliss. Once you can tomatoes, and open that first jar in the dead of an ice-cold winter day, just as the sun is setting at right before 4pm, to add to a dish that would otherwise fall flat, and confirm your belief that life is actually worth living, even in the dead of winter in frigid Michigan, you'll understand the beauty of canned tomatoes.

But it's still summer, and I can't hardly recall the name of winter, was it December, January, February, March? November sometimes, and April too, they can be frigid little lasses, but I digress...

Red and orange globes of acidic wonder, I bow to thee and promise to capture your youth and beauty in a jar, to have and behold, to bring forth the charms of summer, to make winter bearable, to make my sauces taste fantastic. Because, let's just get down to business here, it's winter and I am alway hungry. Yes, that's what happens in this icy tundra called Michigan. We get so very, very hungry.

And so, although I can tomatoes every year, trying to rush it in, make it fit in that tight little window of when the tomatoes finally hurry to the market, ripe and unbruised, and the time when I hustle myself and my beloved on the plane to England land to enjoy that lovely September time when hopefully mother nature will give us a bit of nice weather to enjoy that fair isle called Britain, I still need that bit of a reminder of how I did it last year.

Step number one- Buy some tomatoes. Yes, you can harvest the ones you planted if you did.  Otherwise, buy a bushel, a half bushel, maybe a couple of bushels from your local farmer's market. I'd advise one bushel to start. Tomatoes are unforgiving creatures and they wait for no one. You can choose Romas or just regular tomatoes, although Romas can be a bit more tedious as they are smaller and take more time to peel. Romas are quite nice in that they produce a thicker sauce, but are generally not as flavorful. Frankly, you can't go wrong with either, it's really a personal preference. Give them both a try and see what you think.  Generally, a half a bushel of tomatoes yields about six quarts.

 A half bushel of Romas in the bag and regular tomatoes on the table.

Step number two- Time to peel and chop. Get a giant pot of boiling water, pop the tomatoes in and after two minutes take the tomatoes out of the water, let cool for a minute or two, peel off the skins.  Any method that works is good. You can do this! I trust you! Below see the video of our very own lovely Natashka explaining this step.

Step number three- Dump naked and coarsely chopped tomatoes into a very large pot and bring to a simmer, get them nice and hot.  Canning tomatoes is actually stupidly simple. Do not be intimidated. Take the leap. Turn off your phone and get yourself immersed in the moment. Now is actually, really, profoundly fun. I would suggest a really awesome soundtrack to make your efforts just a bit more celebratory.

Peeled, chopped and bringing to a good simmer.

Step number four
-  Heat canning jars in boiling water, heat lids, too. Take jar out of boiling water and drain off all water.  Set jar on clean towel. Utilizing funnel, pour in hot tomatoes. Leave only about a half inch to top of jar. After wiping rim of jar, pop on lid and screw on band. Put filled quart jars on a chopping board to cool overnight. Don't touch them until they've cooled and the tops have popped down. See Tash explaining this step below.

Step number cold ass Midwest winter- 
You haven't seen the sun in days, the mercury continues to drop, and your hair is standing on end from the extremely dry air of the furnace you crank up incrementally degree by degree every time you walk down the frigid hallway. Welcome to Michigan in January. Summer seemed so sweet, didn't she? Corn knee high by the fourth of what now only seems like a ridiculous fantasy. Michigan is a sweet temptress, she lures you in and bleeds you out.
Anyway... now is the time, this day can be saved. Crack that quart jar, smell that bit of tomatoey summer. Hey, maybe if you hold that quart jar really close against your face you could get a few summer rays.
Well, maybe not, you still look like a corpse. No worries, in six months or so, summer will flash her lashes and beckon you with her golden arms. And the cycle will start again, and again the days will be marked by bushels of red tomatoes. And so it goes, happily. Remember those days. And enjoy your tomatoes. Some things are just worth doing.