Easy Salsa, Ketchup and Pasta Sauces

Time Tested Tomato Canning Tips

Time Tested Tomato Canning Tips

St. Louis, MO  (Food News)  Check out tomato canning tips and food preservation recipes for the 2012 harvest along with safety recommendations from Mrs. Wages canning expert Shirley Camp, retired University of Illinois Extension Educator.

When it comes to food preservation, tomatoes are tops this time of year. Whether you make plain tomato juice, process whole tomatoes, salsa, catsup, or spaghetti sauce, tomatoes are a staple on the American dinner table.

“I can remember helping (or at least I thought I was helping) my mother when she was canning tomatoes,” recalls retired University of Illinois master canning educator Shirley Camp. “It was usually hot with no air conditioning. Recently I asked mom if she liked to can foods — her response was ‘Yes!’ She took pleasure in seeing the hundreds of jars of food that were stored in the cool basement.” For the best tomatoes, follow these tips and easy recipes.

Tomato Processing Tips
(Excerpts from Mrs. Wages Home Canning Guide and Recipes, ©2012, Precision Foods, Inc.)

Selecting Tomatoes
Carefully select tomatoes. They should be ripe and juicy, but not overripe and with no decayed or soft areas. A single poor tomato can spoil a batch. Discard overripe tomatoes and those with any bad spots. Choose your tomatoes from plants that are healthy and disease free.

Acidification
Regardless of what variety of tomatoes you are using, current recommendations are to acidify all tomato products. 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.

To be sure you acidify each jar of canned product, measure the lemon juice or citric acid into the empty jars before you fill them.

Preparing Tomatoes
Most canning recipes involving tomatoes require you to blanch, peel, and core tomatoes. To do so, simply prepare a pan of boiling water. Thoroughly wash your tomatoes and remove stems. Dip a few tomatoes at a time in this boiling water for 30 seconds or until skins start to split, and then put them in cold water. Skin tomatoes and cut out cores and any green portions. Follow the recipe instructions for further preparation.

The Hot Pack Method
Tomatoes are easy to can, but the canning instructions should be followed carefully to assure your canned tomatoes are not only safe to eat but also both tasty and at their nutritional peak. The raw pack method for canning tomatoes is no longer recommended.

Note: If you add foods such as okra, zucchini, peppers, onions, or other foods to the tomatoes, you have created a lower acid product that must be processed in a pressure canner unless tested recipes indicate otherwise. Tested recipes come from the USDA, University of Georgia, or other state Extension services. Grandma’s testing doesn’t count!

Quick and Easy Tomato Canning recipes
One of the easiest ways to make your own salsa, pizza and spaghetti sauce is to buy pre-packaged spice mixes such as Mrs. Wages, which offers a variety of spice mixes to stir right into your homegrown tomatoes. “Canning mixes are great for busy folks who want homemade taste without extra time chopping vegetables and selecting spices for their tomato-based dishes,” says Shirley.

Pasta Sauce
From: Mrs. Wages Home Canning Guide and Recipes, ©2012, Precision Foods, Inc.

Approximately 6 lb fresh, ripe tomatoes*
1 pouch Mrs. Wages Pasta Sauce Mix
2 ounces (1/4 cup) granulated sugar

Yield: 5 pints.
Directions:

1. Wash tomatoes. Scald 3 minutes in boiling water. Dip into cold water. Cut out cores. Remove skins. Cut into halves or quarters. Blend in blender or food processor to smooth consistency (puree).
2. Pour puree into 5-quart saucepan; add Mrs. Wages Pasta Sauce Mix and sugar. Mix well.
3. Bring sauce to a boil. Reduce heat to medium for 25 minutes. Stir frequently. Sauce is ready to eat, to can or freeze. To freeze, pour into freezer containers, and store.
4. To can, pour boiling hot into clean, hot pint canning jars leaving 1/2 -inch headspace. Wipe rim clean and adjust lids.
5. Process 35 minutes in boiling water bath. Boiling water should cover jars by one inch.
6. Test jars for airtight seals 12 – 24 hours after canning. If jars are not properly sealed, refrigerate and use within a week.
7. Label and store in a cool, dry, dark area.

To use sauce: A pint of this pasta sauce mixed with 1/2 -pound of browned ground beef makes an excellent meat sauce to serve over pasta.

*Please Note: If fresh tomatoes are not available, use home-canned tomatoes. Blend tomatoes and liquid from 5 pints of home-canned tomatoes, or five 1-pound cans commercially canned tomatoes into a smooth puree. Or the puree can be made with four 6-ounce cans of tomato paste mixed with 7 cups of water.  All Mrs. Wages Tomato Mixes contain the proper amount of citric acid for safe processing. No need to add citric acid to the jars when using the mixes, just follow the directions on the package.

Medium or Hot Salsa
From: Mrs. Wages Home Canning Guide and Recipes, ©2012, Precision Foods, Inc.

Approximately 6 lb fresh tomatoes*
1 pouch (4.0 oz) Mrs. Wages Salsa Mix (Medium or Hot variety)
1?2 cup Mrs. Wages Pickling & Canning Vinegar (5% acidity)

Yields: 5 pints
Directions:

1. Wash tomatoes. Scald 3 minutes in boiling water. Dip into cold water. Cut out cores. Remove skins. Chop tomatoes coarsely.
2. Measure 5 pints of chopped tomatoes into 5-qt sauce pan; add Mrs. Wages Salsa Mix and vinegar. Mix well.
3. Bring salsa to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Salsa is ready to eat, to can or freeze. To freeze, pour into freezer containers, and store.
4. To can, pour hot salsa into clean, hot pint canning jars leaving 1/2 -inch headspace. Wipe rim clean and adjust lids.
5. Process 35 minutes in boiling water bath. Boiling water should cover jars by one inch.
6. Test jars for airtight seals 12 – 24 hours after canning. If jars are not properly sealed, refrigerate and use within a week.
7. Label and store in a cool, dry, dark area.

*Please Note: If fresh tomatoes are not available, use home-canned or commercially canned tomatoes.  All Mrs. Wages Tomato Mixes contain the proper amount of citric acid for safe processing. No need to add citric acid to the jars when using the mixes, just follow the directions on the package.

Contributor: Shirley Camp is veteran educator and retired University of Illinois Extension specialist who helped develop the canning education curriculum for Illinois and taught for almost 40 years.

About Mrs. Wages: Mrs. Wages is a division of Precision Foods, Inc. Mrs. Wages inspires people to develop healthy food traditions for their families. For more information and recipes, visit www.mrswages.com



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