A full day of canning tomatoes
Today was a full day of canning tomatoes. What a lot of work! But I think I will have enough spaghetti sauce (for spaghetti sauce, we mix homemade tomato soup with pizza sauce) and pizza sauce to last us at least a year. (I'm not making salsa this year, since I still have about 15-20 pints of that from last year.)
We made a lot today... 14 pints of pizza sauce, 8 quarts of spaghetti sauce, and 21.5 pints of spaghetti sauce. The final 13 pints are cooking even as I type... I have 10 minutes to get this posted before I need to take them out of the canner. ;)
This is just a quick photo post... not with complete canning photos, though. We were just TOO busy trying to work and watch the children, to take many pictures! My mom stayed for 7+ hours and we had everything almost made. This evening I finished, then filled jars, cleaned up, and started canning it. I use a boiling water bath and process for 30 minutes. So far every jar has sealed! Yay! Our tomato products usually have about a 98% rate of successful sealing. :)
Here is Yehoshua, helping us get started. We first washed the tomatoes, then cut out the core and any bad spots, and cut them in half, and put them in big canners. We used my mom's two 21-quart canners, along with a 12-quart pan, and others... we had about 50 quarts of tomatoes when we cooked them. I used my hands to smash pan of tomatoes once it was full (to aid in cooking them down), and we started heating them. Once the tomatoes boiled, we timed them for at least an hour, simmering, before we started processing them. You have to stir tomatoes frequently to avoid scorching, since scorched tomatoes will basically ruin your whole batch.
Yehoshua liked helping us wash the tomatoes, but he soon grew tired of it. To keep him interested, I found a very small tomato, and said, "Oh, look, Yehoshua! A baby!" Yehoshua loved that, and held that little tomato for the longest time! He wanted us to kiss the "baby" tomato. My mom kept asking if he wanted her to cut it and put it with the rest, and he said no. :) Eventually he ran off and forgot all about it though.
Here you can see my mom still cutting tomatoes, with two large canners of tomatoes cooking on the stove already.
We had oven-roasted chicken, Italian cheese bread (you can see that being made on the table), leftover potatoes, and leftover garlic green beans for lunch. It was a nice but quick meal, since we had so much left to do on the tomatoes.
In this photo, you can also see washed canning jars on the counter, a small container for compost/garbage, the pan of cooked tomatoes, and a bowl with a strainer, holding cooked tomatoes.
Tomatoes are so watery when they're cooked, and when you're cooking 50 quarts of tomatoes, you don't want to cook it for hours on end to thicken it. We also dislike the taste of adding store-bought "tomato paste" to our sauces, so our solution is to strain/drain the tomatoes in a fine mesh strainer before running through the colander. This produces a delicious thick sauce.
And a closer view: on the left, tomatoes being drained (the "juice", which is almost clear in color, will mostly be thrown away); on the right, finished tomato sauce (which will be made into pizza sauce by adding cooked onions, garlic, green peppers, and seasonings); and in the background, I am running some tomatoes through the colander, which removes the seeds and skins.
Eliyahu was hanging onto my mom's skirt, and I just had to take a picture of his cute little grin. :D Both boys LOVED having Grandma over for the day. This morning when I told Yehoshua that "Grandma was coming" he said, "Bonnie, Amy, coming" (my sisters). I said, "No, just Grandma is coming today." Later he told me, "No Bonnie. No Amy. Jus' Grandma." :D
And with this, I'll be heading to bed. Tomorrow will be another bright and early morning, trying to get out the door by 7:45 am to teach music lessons. I'm amazed I even got this posted! :)