Help HELP with canning tomatoes!!!!!!

Countrymouse

Country exile in the city
Having just read a msg in the BS, I need to QUICKLY get my freezer contents in CANS.

I know how to can beans, "can" can okra (though I don't like it that way)--but need HELP with canning tomatoes.

All the older ladies of my mother's generation I've spoken to say tomatoes are the EASIEST thing to can---but every time I've tried it, they've failed---within weeks, the lids swell and seals pop.

I'm not inexperienced with canning--I constantly can all kinds of jams/ jellies/ pickles, have canned beans, but for some reason just CAN'T get my tomatoes right.

Have tried processing them both ways-- boiling water bath one time, PRESSURE COOKER the next--both failed.

I thought at first I wasn't getting enough of the "core" out (though by the time you cut all the 'core' out of some tomatoes, you have NOTHING left to can but a tablespoon of mush) but other (older) ladies--who've told me they've had no trouble---say they just peel them and cut them up and stew them and then can them--no worries about any "core"--and theirs will keep.

I haven't been using citric acid--could that be the problem?

ANY suggestions?

I need to know this NOW---I have MANY quarts of tomato in my freezer, and LOTS MORE coming in from the garden.

THANKS!!!
 

duchess47

Veteran Member
You don't even need to peel them Cut up and stew probably not much because coming out of the freezer they will be mushy Hot clean jars, hot lids fill jars to about 1 or half inch head space with hot tomatoes, add salt and lemon juice, hot water bath can make sure jar tops are wiped clean before putting lids on They should seal no problem and keep just about forever
 

duchess47

Veteran Member
I'm on my computer now instead of my "smart" phone which is impossible to post from. I realized I sound like my grandmother and left out a lot.

Please forgive me if this sounds too basic, thinking back to when I first started canning.

I cut out the stem ends, quarter tomatoes, put in a large pot and stew. It depends on the type of tomato as to how long, some tomatoes have a lot more water in them than others, so boil them down to the consistanty that you want the finished product to be.

Use clean, hot jars ( I rinse clean jars in hot water), clean, hot lids (I put a pan of lids on simmer on the stove and pull one out as I need.) Put hot water bath canner on the stove to bring to a boil.

I fill jars with hot, stewed tomatoes to leave one inch of head space. I always filled up all the jars necessary for my stewed tomatoes, assembly line.

Go back, add 1/2 tsp salt to each jar, 1 tsp lemon juice each. Wipe the top of the jar to insure it's clean, put hot lids and rings on. When the water bath canner is boiling, fill with jars. I process 15 minutes (I'm at 4000 feet).

Remove jars, place on rack or towel with air space around jars and let cool. Jars should start sealing almost immediately.

If jars stay in canner too long, the tomatoes start boiling violently and seeds can get up under the lid which will prevent sealing.

I used canned tomatoes for sauces, chili, etc. so I don't care if they are pretty, just need them sterile, safe and lasting a long time.

I haven't canned for a couple of years since I moved to town and am still using tomatoes canned when I was at the ranch. There putting up 100 quarts per summer in a short amount of time was usual so I got so I was doing several steps at a time.

Most likely reason for seals breaking is seeds under the lid, but tomatoes need the salt and lemon juice because they don't have enough acid. Also, time in canner needs to be boiling time.

Good luck.

ETA: Make sure water in canner covers the lids by 1-1 1/2 inches.
 
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Countrymouse

Country exile in the city
I think I must have either had the water too hot and "boiled" them IN the jars, as you mention (getting seeds under the lids), filled them too high, or didn't cover the jars in the canner with water high enough.

I'll try again.

When you say "lemon juice"---do you mean freshly-squeezed from a lemon? I may have used "off-the-shelf" lemon juice.

Or should I just order some Citric Acid from Amazon to be on the safe side?
 

duchess47

Veteran Member
I think I must have either had the water too hot and "boiled" them IN the jars, as you mention (getting seeds under the lids), filled them too high, or didn't cover the jars in the canner with water high enough.

I'll try again.

When you say "lemon juice"---do you mean freshly-squeezed from a lemon? I may have used "off-th

Or should I just order s
I just use bottle lemon juice off the shelf, I think the brand is Real Lemon, but it won't matter I use canning salt or sea salt Non iodized
The jars need to boil to push out the air to seal, just not violently for an excessive amount of time, where the liquid is pushed up and out of the jar bringing seeds up to get stuck
When I put the lids on, I tighten and then back off about 1/8 turn so it's not so tight that air can't be pushed out
 

rosepath

Member
The grocery and farm stores around here carry Citric Acid, I have some left from last year so one jar goes a long way. We mostly put up tomato juice and tomato sauce, and try to grow a few different varieties to can. Be sure (as stated above) that your jars are hot, your lids too, and the rims are wiped very well before putting on the lids.
One great addition was a Squeezo strainer, it separates out the seeds, I love using that! Messy, but that seems to go with the territory when working up tomatoes.
 

summerthyme

Administrator
_______________
My phone and net are out and I can't do a decent reply on this,stupid cellphone. But... follow instructions in a Ball Blue book or other up to date source (several.posts above have potentially dangerous advice)

I suspect your problems with sealing are related to siphoning... either not enough headspace, or tipping hot jars when removing them from the canner. If stupid Windstream ever repairs the broken line on the road outside our house (it's been 4 days), I'll try to add more detail!

Summerthyme
 

ginnie6

Veteran Member
Here's how I do mine and most years I put up close to 100 jars of them. I dunk mine in building water till the skins start to bust them pull them out. As soon as I can handle them I cut out the very top of the core and the stem. Then they go into a jar with 2tbs lemon juice per quart. I do 1/2" headspace and water bath them for 45 minutes. I've never had them go bad.
 

ginnie6

Veteran Member
Here's how I do mine and most years I put up close to 100 jars if them. I dunk mine in boiling water till the skins start to bust them pull them out. As soon as I can handle them I cut out the very top of the core and the stem. Then they go into a jar with 2tbs lemon juice per quart. I do 1/2" headspace and water bath them for 45 minutes. I've never had them go bad.
 

WanderLore

Veteran Member
i get my tomatoes from garden and rinse. cut off blossom end. throw in zip lock bags in the freezer. when i have enough, i throw them frozen into very hot water in the sink. the peels slip off. throw in the pot and cook down to what i want. i add the lemon juice in the pot. seasonings etc. then ladle into jars on the counter, to 1/2 inch at top. wipe the tops and put lids on. turn them upside down for the night (on a towel). in the morning they are done and i check the top to make sure it isn't popping. i know this may not sound right but thats how i've always done it and have never had a jar fail. hope that helps some.
 

Countrymouse

Country exile in the city
My phone and net are out and I can't do a decent reply on this,stupid cellphone. But... follow instructions in a Ball Blue book or other up to date source (several.posts above have potentially dangerous advice)

I suspect your problems with sealing are related to siphoning... either not enough headspace, or tipping hot jars when removing them from the canner. If stupid Windstream ever repairs the broken line on the road outside our house (it's been 4 days), I'll try to add more detail!

Summerthyme

Hi Summerthyme!

I'm getting ready to try it this morning---so--hope you're there!

1. How MUCH headspace? Ball Blue Book says 1/2", some posters above say 1/2"; my mama always used to just fill "to the bottom of the band"--in other words, to where the screw lines are--which is a little more than 1/2".

2. "Siphoning"--what do you mean by that? Is it similar to the earlier problem mentioned by Duchess47---that the seeds "get up under the lid" because I let it "boil too violently"?

3. As far as tipping the jars and not letting the seeds touch the lid--my mother always said that, too. BUT---I've heard from lots of canners that they DELIBERATELY turn their cans UPSIDE DOWN on the counter on a towel, after taking them out of the hot water bath, and only after a while do they turn them back over upright, and THEN they hear them "pop", indicating sealing. My mother NEVER did them that way, but I've heard of lots of other people doing it. So--should I NEVER let anything touch the lid--as my mother did---or should I do this "upside down" thing?
 

summerthyme

Administrator
_______________
I agree with your mama! A bit more headspace is safer than too little... I fill just to the first screw line, which I think is just about 3/4"... maybe slightly less.

Siphoning certainly can result in seeds (and other bits) under the sealing compound. It happens especially in pressure canning when the pressure drops quickly... usually when soneone gets in a hurry and starts "nudging" the weight to get the pressure to drop so they can get to the next batch. It's much more common in thick foods... tomatoes will siphon whereas green beans will tolerate a lot more.

Tipping a *boiling hot* jar will often start the siphon process. When I'm canning chili con carne, or my barbeques beans (which are in a thick, juicy sauce), if I can, I leave the canner closed on the stove overnight, or until cool. If I'm running multiple batches, I wait for the pressure to drop to zero. I loosen the lid (All American canner), then lift it *just slightly* and set it slightly ajar on the top of the canner. If it's still hot, you can often hear the jar contents boiling furiously yet. Once that boil8ng has stopped, then I remove the lid completely , and remove the hot jars by lifting straight up (you want to avoid the contents sloshing over the top of the jar rim onto the lid... that's when slight differences in pressure inside and outside the jar can cause the contents to siphon under the lid. Even if it seals at the time (and they often do), it provides an avenue for mold to develop and the seal to fail later in storage.

The "tip the jar upside down and let cool" method is an outdated "open kettle canning" method... I think the theory was for the boiling hot contents to sterilize the lid. It probably posed little risk of siphoning, because the contents were ladle "piping hot" into the (supposedly sterile) jars, but by the time lids were placed and the jars were turned, they weren't boiling.

I think people who still do this are remembering older relatives doing open kettle canning, but misunderstanding *why* they did it.

Many jars of open kettle canned tomato sauce kept just fine, but many more developed "flat sour" spoilage, which generally wasn't terribly dangerous but tasted awful. It depended on having a truly spotless kitchen (without even a trace of yeasts floating around, much less bacteria), perfect and clean fruit and ingredients, and sterilizing pots, utensils, jars and lids every step of the way.

And these days, with modern sub-acid tomato varieties, you can gave similar problems with water bath canning. Since I usually use a mix of modern and heirloom types, rather than adding acid wh8ch can result in an acidic sauce) or hoping it's acid enough to safely can, I just use the much briefer pressure processing times. In the long run, it takes less time and gives a better product, IMHO.

Summerthyme
 

Countrymouse

Country exile in the city
I'm afraid I'm limited to water-bath canning--I do 'have' a pressure cooker but it just doesn't seem to "pressurize" right and to be honest I'm scared to death of it.

Mama always used hot canning and did NOT use a boiling water bath after---she had her ingredients hot as fire---usually boiling or having "just" boiled them (in the case of jellies / jams). Her jars, lids, and rings were SITTING In pans of boiling water awaiting use. She'd ladle the boiling-hot material (tomatoes, beans, whatever) INTO the boiling-hot jars, HURRY to put in the salt on top, HURRY to get the lid / ring on, then pass the hot jar to me to put under two thick towels on the counter while she's doing the next one.

I do it the exact same way, but ADD the "boiling water bath" because I'm told that's needed to sterilize.

But then---mother never had a batch of ANYTHING go bad--and I keep on seeming to.

Maybe I should just go back to her methods.....
 
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