Tomatoes are a homesteader’s boon. They’re a relatively easy crop to grow, one plant can produce many pounds of fruit and tomatoes can be used in countless delicious recipes. The only down-side to tomatoes is that they all tend to ripen at the same time and you’ve got to figure out what to do with your bounty!
That’s where canning comes in. For nearly 200 years, people have been preserving food in sealed glass jars to extend it’s shelf-life.
Tomatoes can be made into salsa, marinara, pasta sauce, tomato soup, ketchup, or can be canned whole. Regardless of how you’re going to can tomatoes, they all need to be skinned and de-seeded. The skins and seeds turn tough and chewy during the canning process which is no bueno.
First Step: Peel Your Tomatoes
To get started, you’ll want to fill a large pot with water and set it to boil. Next to this pot, you’ll want to fill another large pot with ice water. While the first pot is coming to a boil, cut a shallow ‘x’ in all of your tomatoes.
Once you have ‘X’-ed all of your tomatoes, place them, a few at a time, into the pot of boiling water. This rapid heating will cause the skin to peel back away from the ‘x’s. This should only take a few seconds, and you don’t want to cook the tomatoes, so work in batches of two or three.
After you see the skins start to split, remove them as quickly as possible and dunk them into the ice water. This stops the tomatoes from cooking.
Once the tomatoes have cooled, I move them to a colander to drain while I process the rest.
Once you’ve finished with all of your tomatoes, you can begin to peel them.
Working over a compost bin or bowl, peel off the tomato skins one at a time.
Second Step: De-Seeding Your Tomatoes
Once your tomatoes have been peeled you can begin to de-seed them. I usually cut all of mine in half and cut out the stem or any blemishes that I don’t want to eat.
Once this has been done for all of your tomatoes, you can squeeze out the guts of the tomatoes into a bowl or compost bin. This is a messy process that kids love to help with! Just make sure they cover the tomato with their free hand so it doesn’t squirt across the kitchen!
Once you’ve squeezed out what you can, follow through with your fingers and finish scooping out anything that remains.
BONUS: if your tomatoes are heirloom, you can save these seeds for next year!
Now your tomatoes are ready to be packed and canned as is, or added to any recipe that you’ll eventually can! It’s a lengthy process, but the results are definitely worth it!