Pressure Canner: Tomatoes 2018

Another info-note to self about my canned tomatoes.

Three dozen jars of tomatoes were canned in September 2018.  The first two batches were Roma tomatoes purchased from first NoFrills in a 20 pound box for $7,99, then a second box was purchased from Metro in a 25 pound box for $8.00.  The third batch was canned in two sessions on September 26th and 27th using garden tomatoes: Pink Girl; San Marino; Health Kick; and Amish paste tomatoes.

Tomato preparation:

The Roma tomatoes were washed and the stem ends removed.  They were placed whole in a 16 quart stock pot, then brought to a boil and simmered until stewed.  Then they were processed through the Cuisinart manual food mill, using the largest size sieve plate.

The garden tomatoes were frozen whole as they ripened, stems removed.  The frozen tomatoes were placed in a 16 quart stock pot with 1/2 cup of water, set on a low heat until they began to thaw and soften.  The tomatoes were stewed at a low heat.  Then they were processed through teh Cuisinart manual food mill, using the smallest size sieve plate.  This size was used because of the minute size of the tomato seeds in the Amish Paste tomatoes.

Jarring the tomatoes for canning:

The Roma tomatoes from NoFrills were canned using 4 tablespoons of vinegar per 1 litre jar.  Rims were checked and cleaned then lids and rings were applied and finger tightened.

The Roma tomatoes from Metro were canned using 2 tablespoons of lemon juice per 1 litre jar.  Rims were checked and cleaned then lids and rings were applied and finger tightened.

The garden tomatoes were canned using 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid per 1 litre jar.  Rims were checked and cleaned then lids and rings were applied and finger tightened.

Pressure Canning:

The jars of tomatoes were canned in the pressure canner for 15 minutes at 11 pounts pressure. The All American pressure canner was set on the electric coil burner at 6/10 heat until pressure was reached, then the heat was reduced to 5.5/10 for 15 minutes of canning timed when pressure was reached.

Kitchen Magic

I have always loved the kitchen. I love everything about the kitchen, acquiring food to put in it, preserving food, storing food, preparing food, baking, cleaning, organizing, the list goes on. I’ve always been this way, ever since I can remember. My Aunt had a picture of me, at age about five, sweeping the kitchen floor at our farm, and the caption reads, “Mother’s little helper”. That about sums it up, I liked my mother’s kitchen, I liked doing things with and for my mother in the kitchen, it was my favourite room in the house. It was a farm kitchen, and my mother always was a good cook, who liked to cook, and to preserve the produce we had fresh from our farm. I grew up thinking that canning, jam and jelly making, baking, freezing, and all kinds of other kitchen and food related activities, were normal, and fun.

In addition to Mom’s kitchen, the was Granny’s kitchen. That wondrous place where the wood stove represented wonderful meals. There wonderful things happened when we brought home fresh picked wild fruit, choke cherries, raspberries, black raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and high bush cranberries. My Granny and Grandpa had a magnificent garden, so there was always fresh vegetables during the growing season. My Grandpa loved to fish, as we all did, so there was fresh fish to fry in farm fresh butter. And the highlight of the culinary delights at Granny and Grandpa’s house was the homemade maple syrup, which they made every spring from the trees on their property. Oh the pure joy of a small bowl of maple syrup with homemade bread and fresh butter!  Heavenly.

Kitchens are magic.

It wasn’t surprising that I pursued my first degree in Food and Nutrition. The chemistry (and politics of food) behind the workings of the kitchen opened up another realm of information, and more magic.

*************************************

Has it really been a week since I last posted! Time is flying by. This is not surprising, as it is autumn, and harvest season.

The Instant Pot is still in daily use. I haven’t used the range or the oven for anything but food preservation ever since the Instant Pot came into the house. Last night I made up a new recipe that Attila loved. It was basically a hamburger gravy cooked in the instant pot with fresh green beans from the garden, and a chopped onion. I thickened it after it was cooked, on saute, then served it over small new potatoes. It was lovely. Tonight it will be chicken, although I won’t know what recipe I am going to make until five minutes before I begin meal preparation. A shout out to Teri, thanks for sending me a yahoo link to a great many Instant Pot recipes, I will have fun there.

I put filtered my apple cider this past week, removing the mash from the liquid.  It is now in the final step, which can take many weeks, as the apple cider slowly turns to vinegar.  I have had to remove a wee bit of mold from the top, but from what I read online, this is not something to be concerned about.  The blackberry mash and water are still in the first phase of the process, slowly turning into cider.  I wonder if cider is right word to use with this, blackberry cider.  Hmm.

Since Monday I have canned 14 litres of tomatoes. The tomatoes are from our garden, and were frozen whole as soon as they reached their peak of ripeness. It has been quite a job, thawing them, boiling them down, putting them through the food mill, boiling them down again, then pressure canning them. I love my All American pressure canner! The last five litres are just now cooling on the kitchen counter. Tomorrow I will test their seals, then pack them into the box with the rest of the canned garden tomatoes, and put them into storage in the basement. When I consider that the current price for organic canned tomatoes, in a glass jar, is $8.99 per 680ml, well, we couldn’t afford to eat this quality of food if we hadn’t grown and preserved it ourselves. To buy the equivalent amount of canned organic tomatoes in jars that I canned from our garden, would have cost $185, and generated 20 empty glass jars to be recycled. As it was this year, the garden tomato plants cost less than $10, with free fertilizer from the compost bins. What we saved in dollars was made up for with time, sweat equity. Attila gardened, I canned. Of course, there is the added bonus of the powder I make from the dehydrated skins and seeds from all of these tomatoes, it is very tasty, and I don’t see such a product available in any of the grocery stores I frequent.

Attila renovate and gardens, I administer and preserve food, and in this way we keep our heads above water. Attila is on board with this approach, he has always been on board with this approach, even when he was set on moving out on his own, he was on board with this approach. It isn’t glamorous, newsworthy, unusual, or noteworthy, it is just how we do things, as individuals and as housemates.

mason jar, with coffee filter on top to separate liquid from mash.

Making Apple Cider Vinegar: This is the setup I devised for filtering the apple skins and cores out of the apple cider. First I placed a sterilized wide mouth mason jar on the counter. Then I placed a stainless steel wide-mouthed funnel in the far. Then I placed a coffee filter in the wide-mouthed funnel. Then I place the sterilized jar ring in the coffee filter, to prevent the filter from falling through the funnel. Once this setup was complete, I poured the liquid from my apple cider jar into the coffee filter, so that it passed through the filter and into the mason jar below.

sieve of apple mash draining on coffee filter

Making Apple Cider Vinegar: After pouring as much liquid as possible from the apple cider jar into the mason jar, the mash was placed in a sieve, which in turn was placed on the coffee filter, to allow the remaining liquid to drain from the mash.

bakset of frozen tomatoes

This is half of the frozen tomatoes from our garden.

The frozen tomatoes were place in a 16 quart stock pot over a low heat, to thaw and simmer.

Stock pot containing tomato sauce, with reflection of Maggie's legs.

The tomatoes were simmered in the stockpot, put through the food mill, then returned to the stock pot to simmer. And here you have, as a little extra bonus, a stealth picture of me taking the picture. Mrs. Tomato Head.

canning jars in a pressure canner

And here are the jars of canned tomatoes, ready and waiting to be canned in the pressure canner, then onto the counter, where they will cool for 24 hours, before testing the seals and storing them away.

groceries with total cost of 95 cents, includes 3 frozen turkeys, socks, green peppers, red peppers cilantro and two packages of English Muffins.

Another little bonus shot. Attila watches points when we shop. He loves numbers, and his passion for numbers is put to good use with points. This was our grocery haul this week, total cost, cashing in points, 95 cents.

Worldly

Weather

16°C
Date: 2:00 PM EDT Thursday 27 September 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 15.5°C
Dew point: 8.9°C
Humidity: 65%
Wind: S 14 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

OK, here is the thing! When I went to bed last night the temperature in the house was 22C. The heat is not turned on. Last night I forgot to close the windows, and the temperature outside went down to 10C overnight. Yikes!

And you know what? When I woke up this morning, the temperature in the house was still 21C! It only went down 1C degree! The attic insulation is doing an amazing job. Who knew! Well, I sorta knew, but I didn’t realize it would be this good.

Quote

“A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures.”
Daniel Webster
1782 – 1852

Canning Beans

Although the weather is springlike, it is early springlike. The wind is strong and nippy, even though the sun is strong. I am still wearing a wool scarf, a wool hat, gloves, and a parka to go for my walks. It isn’t the kind of weather to sit outside and relax in the sun! So I have been turning to indoor tasks.

The Chili Beans I canned over the winter were almost gone. We like our beans, and cook all sorts of dishes with them. I decided it was time to replenish the supply. Monday I canned seven litres of Chili Beans. Yesterday I canned 14 “pints” (500 ml jars) of Molasses Beans. It was the first time I had tried canning a full canner of smaller jars, which are stacked in the canner in two layers.

Canning requires a lot of time on my feet. I did very well with it, but yesterday my knee began to complain, and I could feel it this morning when I swung my legs over the side of the bed to arise. Time to slow down a bit I think!

I like pressure canning. It is extremely precise and time consuming, but for those of us who spend our days at home it is not really an intrusive pastime. Like bread making, it requires input at specific intervals, leaving plenty of time for other tasks over the course of the day.

I used the down time during canning to work on one of my web sites. I have finished transferring the data to a new database, which was extremely time consuming. Now I will move on to more specific design elements, like SEO, setting up statistical reports, and forms of linked social media. Always a learning curve with these things, which makes it interesting.

When the web site I am refurbishing is completed, and has gone live, I will turn my attention to another web site that needs a similar update. This should take me right into the summer as far as projects are concerned.

Terra and Lares dropped by yesterday for a short visit before they met friends for dinner. Terra showed me lots of pictures from their recent trip to a Panama resort.

Next week I will be thinking about heading to the country house, so I let Terra know that arrangements will have to be made to transport Diesel back to Terra’s house. They anticipate that Diesel is not going to be pleased about the change of residence, from being an “only cat” to one of three cats, and two dogs. I wish him well, he has been such a great companion. He cannot come north because he does not tolerate car travel well, even a short trip disorients him for quite some time. A five hour drive might do him real damage. Perhaps he will visit me again when I return to the little house for the bug season.

While Tera and Lares were here I asked Lares to assist me by fetching the ladder, accessing the attic, and bringing down the live trap. It was empty! Hooray! I had decided against trying it myself, while I am here alone. If something happened I would be in a right pickle.

An enterprising squirrel has chewed through the exterior roof trim just under the roof, and is building a nest in the roof. Sigh.

Behind the houses, across the street, there was a small forest. A developer owns the property and decided to build a seniors complex there. Last fall he brought in fellows with chain saws and a giant chipper. The forest is gone. Right now there are diggers and dump trucks working over there. Progress. Maybe, but the squirrel does not think so. She has decided to move in with us, since she was displaced from her natural habitat.

We will not share the house with a squirrel, and her planned family. She has to go. I will bait the live trap, and keep an eye on it. If I catch her, I will take her to a forest far out in the countryside, and wish her luck in her new life. Then, when next Attila visits the little house in the city, he will nail a piece of metal across the area where she chewed through the 2″ thick boards.

We seem to have a distinct animal theme here at the little house in the city! They are our most frequent and avid visitors!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

Little House in the City
0°C
Date: 7:00 AM EDT Wednesday 8 April 2015
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.8 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: -0.3°C
Dewpoint: -10.6°C
Humidity: 46%
Wind: NE 22 gust 32 km/h
Wind Chill: -6

Country House
0°C
Date: 7:00 AM EDT Wednesday 8 April 2015
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -0.1°C
Dewpoint: -13.6°C
Humidity: 36%
Wind: E 9 km/h
Wind Chill: -3

Quote

“The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well.”
Joe Ancis

The Trip South

Saturday Morning, November 22, 2014

Here it is, Saturday morning. I am watching the road reports like a hawk circling prey. Right now ice pellets are pelting out of the sky, I can hear them hitting the chimneys. Attila is out there working in it, and will return home for lunch. After lunch we pack the car and leave for the little house in the city.

Everything has been gathered and placed near the back door, so that loading the car will merely involve carrying things out, and finding a place for them. I am bringing canning jars and the pressure canner and the hot water bath canner, hoping for an opportunity to put them all to use. I have all the discarded shirts ready to go, hoping for an opportunity to transform them into towels, hot pads, tote bags, and curtains. I have lots of warm clothes packed, a few books, and of course my computer!

The weather people keep saying, over and over again, that the ice pellets will turn to rain by this afternoon. The road reports indicate the roads are now completely clear, and wet. Since it is a smidgen above freezing now, the ice pellets should melt on contact with the road, so the roads should stay clear and wet. Clear and wet is not a problem!

There are flood warnings in this part of the world, over the next few days as the snow melts and the rains fall. We are high and dry, and barring anything unusual, we should be fine. There are a few dwellings on the waterfront near here, that may face some serious challenges though. One of our neighbours has just purchased a low-lying cottage, which was flooded a few years ago. One wonders if the new owner was filled in on this before the purchase, or if they are about to learn from experience. I wish them luck, whatever the case may be.

Saturday Night, November 22, 2014

We arrived at our destination just after 6:30 p.m., the roads were clear and wet the whole way down.

We let ourselves into the house, turned on the lights, the heat, the water, and the hot water tank. Then we went into the kitchen.

Mice!

Droppings on the counter, the kitchen table, in the cupboards, on some of the dishes, and one food container had been compromised, one that held macaroni. Sigh.

Out came the bleach and soap, and Attila and I went to work cleaning. It took only an hour to get everything clean!

I will have my work cut out for me while I am here, I am on mouse patrol! The traps were sprung but empty, the mice are getting smarter. Oh well, I will keep trying different things until I get all of them.

Time for a little rest, and then we unpack the car!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

0°C
Date: 11:37 AM EST Saturday 22 November 2014
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Visibility: 10 km
Temperature: -0.2°C
Dewpoint: -1.5°C
Humidity: 91%
Wind: S 13 km/h
Wind Chill: -4

Quote

“Flowers never emit so sweet and strong a fragrance as before a storm. When a storm approaches thee, be as fragrant as a sweet-smelling flower.”
Jean Paul Richter
1763 – 1825

Carrots

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Goodness, I am still posting a day late! I do not like it! Sigh. It is in my power to change it. Maybe later… that is how this cycle of late posting started!

Sometimes it takes me a while to get up to speed, and food preservation is one of those activities that gets easier the more time spent. The last ten pounds of carrots were peeled this morning. As I prepared the cutting board to chop them up for cooking in the pressure canner, I remembered that I had a far easier way to deal with chopping bulk vegetables. The food processor!

I bought my food processor back when I was a Home Economics teacher in the public school system. It is a Cuisinart, the largest model at the time, one of the original machines. It was an ambitious purchase for a young woman, living in a small apartment, but I never regretted it! It has been in steady use for over 35 years. About fifteen years ago a replacement bowl was purchased, the first one simply wore out from frequent use.

This Cuisinart came with slicing attachment disks. So, I set it up with the largest slicing disk, and in three minutes I had sliced the whole ten pounds of carrots.

Slicing the carrots with the Cuisinart.
CuisinartCarrotSlice

The sliced carrots went into the pressure canner, with four cups of water, the canner was closed, the weight gauge placed on the lid and the heat turned on. This time it took about twenty minutes to bring the pressure up to fifteen pounds, then the heat was turned off and the canner was left to cool till the gauge read zero. After removing the lid, the fully cooked carrots were gently scooped out of the liquid and put in a colander to drain over a bowl. The cooking liquid went into the soup pot, another stone soup with dumplings for dinner.

When the carrots cooled I spooned them into 12 plastic cups, placing the cups in a cake pan which when fully loaded was set into the freezer to flash freeze the carrots. When they were solidly frozen I dipped the cups into hot water, one by one, tapping the bottoms of the cups to release the carrot pucks into a plastic bag, to be stored in the freezer until use.

The sliced, cooked carrots are ready to go into the freezer. They were cool when I put them into these plastic cups, I always try to avoid letting hot food come into contact with plastics. They were purchased as “disposable” cups about twenty years ago. The advantage to them for this kind of freezing project is that the bottoms are a bit flexible, which means they can be pressed to release frozen contents. Glass just would not work as well for releasing frozen contents easily. Hmmm… I wonder if there are silicon cups that would do this job equally well. Something to explore on a slow day!
CookedCarrotFreezing

All of this was accomplished by 9:30 a.m. this morning. When I finally sat down to enjoy a cold glass of water, the sun was shining and we were well into another beautiful autumn day.

Terra called this morning, from an apple orchard! She and a friend were picking at a “pick your own” apple farm, and she wanted to know if a half bushel of apples would make a good amount of applesauce. I told her it would, but since I could not see the size of the apples I couldn’t really guess how many apples it would take to fill a one litre jar with applesauce. I could tell her that it cooks down significantly, the volume of apples is not the same as the volume of the resulting applesauce from those apples.

There was a lot of rain here, and north of here, last weekend. The storms explain why our power was out when we arrived home at the country house late Sunday night. North of the country house, in the area where our camp is located, there were serious problems with rising waters. In fact there were a good many roads there that were not “car passable”. There were creeks running over the roads, and some sections of various roads were washed out. Harriet and Hogan happened to be at their cottage on Sunday, and she told me that the creek just down the road from their cottage was running six inches deep across the road. We haven’t been to the camp to see how it fared during this extreme weather, we have our fingers crossed that all is well there. We will have to drive up to check on it soon, and to check on Granny and Grandpa’s house as well, which is high and should be dry.

Left to right, five one litre jars of Chili Sauce, six 500 ml jars of Tomato Pepper Salsa, six 500 ml jars of Tomato Salsa. This might last six months, but perhaps not, Attila loves acidic foods, and loves this Salsa. I am a big fan of the Chili Sauce.NOTE: I am still using the bulk pickling spice I purchased more than 25 years ago. It had no preservative in it, and is still providing excellent flavour in the Chili Sauce. The current pickling spices on the market today all contain preservatives, and I am allergic to them. Soon I will have to make my own pickling spice. It seems gratuitous to me, to be adding preservatives to a product that can maintain its quality for more than 25 years without any preservatives. Are they thinking this stuff needs to last for thousands of years?!?!? I am a little miffed at the companies that use preservatives, when none are needed for a reasonable shelf life of the product. Concentrated lemon juice is another product laced with preservatives, for no reason other than extending an already long shelf life. Really, who wants to buy concentrated lemon juice that is a decade old?

ChiliSauceSalsas

Worldly Distractions

Weather

14°C
Date: 8:00 PM EDT Wednesday 24 September 2014
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 103.2 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 13.6°C
Dewpoint: 13.3°C
Humidity: 98%
Wind: ESE 5 km/h

Quote

“Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it’s just the opposite.”
John Kenneth Galbraith
1908 – 2006

You know, I find it difficult to fathom that John Kenneth Galbraith was actually an Economist! The one’s I met while in graduate school bore no resemblance to him, intellectually or philosophically. I have always enjoyed Mr. Galbraith’s writing, and his insights. I wonder if what I “hear” when I read his words are actually what he was “saying”. All too often it is the case that fine words are stealthily crafted to cloth the beast of the machine, the wolf in sheep’s clothing, so to speak. I truly wish I could have met the man, face to face!