Pennywise Platter is tomorrow! Hope you have tips and recipes to share!
Yesterday, I jumped into a canning project for tomatoes. I was very glad to find that one of our local farms, Thompson Farms (who is not certified organic, but doesn’t use any pesticides or fungicides) had lugs of tomatoes for only .49 cents a pound! Last time I had canned tomatoes, their lugs were about .69 cents a pound. For about 12 dollars I had 24 pounds worth of tomatoes, which made me 9 quarts of tomatoes. (I had been hoping to buy more, but they had run a little low.)
Once we took out the cost of of buying the jars (which I will continue to reuse), each quart of tomatoes I canned (which, by the way is larger than most large cans in the store), was only about $1.75. That includes the un-reusable lids, lemon juice and tomatoes. And I was paying up to $3.75 for 16 ounces of organic tomatoes, compared to only $1.75 for 32 ounces! Even if you counted in the cost of the reusable jars, I would still be saving quite a bit of money. I could get a little cheaper organic tinned tomatoes, but not only do I not like that “tinny” taste of tomatoes in cans, but there are more toxins from the plastic linning. When I do have to buy tomatoes, I usually get a brand in glass jars, and it’s a great product.
I would definitely recommend making at least 50 pounds of tomatoes at once, as by the time everything is boiling, you might as well make a lot. As it is, I will do another round soon.
But I do have to say this, canning is so much harder than lacto-fermenting foods. I have been getting a little behind in my lacto-fermenting with the usual excuses of lack of time and lack of energy. But one thing that canning has done for me is made me appreciate how easy lacto-fermenting really is. I was thinking of making my lacto-fermenting salsa as a chore (what a joke!). It’s a piece of cake compared to canning! As I was getting a little grumpy waiting for my huge pot to boil, and worrying whether I had done everything right so that something gross didn’t grow in my jars and kill us all, I decided that a man must have been the one to invent the canning jar. And from what I remember, I think I was right too.
But for all of my complaining, I do think it’s worth a little work for a lot of savings, especially for us this year.
And perhaps you would too! For one days hard work, you could have a years worth of canned tomatoes at a large savings. You might want to consider whether a day’s work is worth some local, organic, homecanned tomatoes -espesially if you find organic canned tomatoes in the store beyond your price range.
I will also be freezing some tomatoes, a super simple idea which I’ve read on several different blogs. I was originally hoping to can a raw blended tomato sauce that Lindsay talked about last year (it would have been so very easy to do), but I decided sadly that I didn’t like the taste as much after trying a small batch. It might have improved once I cooked with it, but I didn’t want to risk it. I also read that it was no longer an “approved” method” by the FDA to use with tomatoes, but I’m not sure if that’s true or not. But I will be trying the freezing method! So easy. If you don’t want to can, this could be your ticket to preserving your local harvest.
For those who are curious, I like to make canned chopped or crushed tomatoes. They have the best flavor in the world! There really is nothing like home canned tomatoes. I may also try to make my own tomato sauce which has a few extra steps in it.
For some safety guidelines and some directions on canning tomatoes go here.
What about you? Do you like to can? Have any tips or experiences to share?
This post is part of Food Roots.