Canning, or, Pioneers Against Lycopenemia

Because I Googled “lycopene toxicity,” I decided that this year I would start canning tomatoes. Lycopenemia at its worst gets you orange skin and a fatty liver (accomplished by drinking like two liters of tomato juice a day for ten years). When I stared down what had to be several gallons of cherry tomatoes brought in from the yard, the chance of lycopenemia remote, I was still like “Ew.” I need a break from tomatoes. Thank God there is canning.

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I wanted to learn how to can without using a pressure cooker. After researching web pages with titles like “Pioneering Today,” I found:

The National Center for Home Food Preservation: http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_03/tomato_crushed.html

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Crushed Tomatoes

Wash tomatoes and dip in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until skins split. Then dip in cold water slip off skins, and remove cores. Trim off any bruised or discolored portions and quarter. This I accomplished with the INTENSE moral support of Izzy.

canning with izzy

Heat one-sixth of the quarters quickly in a large pot, crushing them with a wooden mallet or spoon as they are added to the pot. This will exude juice. Continue heating the tomatoes, stirring to prevent burning. Once the tomatoes are boiling, gradually add remaining quartered tomatoes, stirring constantly. These remaining tomatoes do not need to be crushed. They will soften with heating and stirring. Continue until all tomatoes are added.

canning tomatoes

Then boil gently 5 minutes. Add bottled lemon juice or citric acid to jars. Add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart to the jars, if desired. Fill jars immediately with hot tomatoes, leaving ½-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process.

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To ensure safe acidity in whole, crushed, or juiced tomatoes, add two tablespoons of bottled lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid per quart of tomatoes. For pints, use one tablespoon bottled lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon citric acid. Acid can be added directly to the jars before filling with product. Add sugar to offset acid taste, if desired. Four tablespoons of a 5 percent acidity vinegar per quart may be used instead of lemon juice or citric acid. However, vinegar may cause undesirable flavor changes.

Sterilizing

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  1. Don’t use jars with any chips or cracks. Wash the jars, lids, and screw bands in hot, soapy water, making sure to rinse well.
  2. Place the jars upright on a wire rack in a large pot, fill pot with hot water until the jars are submerged, and bring the water to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes, turn off the heat, and leave jars in the water. Sterilize the lids according to the manufacturer’s instructions. I also used KP’s beer brewing sterilizer solution.
  3. Using stainless-steel tongs, lift the jars from the pot, and place them on a padded layer of clean towels.

canning sanitizer

Sealing

  1. Pour fruits or vegetables into the jars, and wipe the rims carefully. Each jar should be filled up to a quarter-inch from the top.
  2. Eliminate air bubbles by poking through the contents of the jar with a chopstick or wooden skewer.
  3. Place the lid onto the rim and, using one finger to hold the lid securely, twist on the screw band until it’s tight.
  4. Put a wire rack on the bottom of a large pot, and fill the pot with hot water. Use a jar lifter to place each jar on the rack. Add enough water to cover the jars by 2 inches, and bring the water to a boil.
  5. Boil the jars for 10 minutes; remove from the water with a jar lifter, and allow the jars to stand on the towels for 24 hours. When the jars are cool, check for a slight indentation in the lid, which indicates a vacuum seal.

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And you’re good for the winter, tomato hoarder!

Leave no blushed orb on the vine. (One other trick I recently learned for those green tomatoes in the face of a coming frost is that you can pick them, put them in a bag sealed with a banana (EW), and they will ripen at an accelerated rate because of the ethylene gas released. Works!)

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