Finished! We (hopefully) now have salsa for the next year.Finished! We (hopefully) now have salsa for the next year.
Place the processed jars on a cooling rack or towel and allow them to cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours.Place the processed jars on a cooling rack or towel and allow them to cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours.
Remove the jars from the canner after processing, being careful not to tip them. The jars aren't sealed at this point, so sloshing the product around can interfere with the seal.Remove the jars from the canner after processing, being careful not to tip them. The jars aren't sealed at this point, so sloshing the product around can interfere with the seal.
Rim wiped and ready for a lidRim wiped and ready for a lid
Release.... THE BUBBLES!Release.... THE BUBBLES!
Top up. Since the funnel takes up some space in the jar, I found it easier to top up the jar without it.Top up. Since the funnel takes up some space in the jar, I found it easier to top up the jar without it.
Hot packHot pack
Pour the hot water out of the jars, being careful not to pour it on yourself.Pour the hot water out of the jars, being careful not to pour it on yourself.
Heat the jars so they can be hot packedHeat the jars so they can be hot packed
CookCook
More goodies for the compostMore goodies for the compost
Another recipeAnother recipe
Night #2. Prepping the rest of the ingredients for the salsa.Night #2. Prepping the rest of the ingredients for the salsa.
No one was harmed in the making of this blog post. Tomatoes excluded.No one was harmed in the making of this blog post. Tomatoes excluded.
That is a LOT of tomatoes. These are my three biggest pots and bowls,  minus the canner.That is a LOT of tomatoes. These are my three biggest pots and bowls, minus the canner.
Naked maters.Naked maters.
You'll end up with all sorts of goodies like this that you can feed to your wormies or put in your compost.You'll end up with all sorts of goodies like this that you can feed to your wormies or put in your compost.
Peel the skins offPeel the skins off
Blanch in boiling water for around 60 seconds or until the skins start to peel off, then plunge in ice water.Blanch in boiling water for around 60 seconds or until the skins start to peel off, then plunge in ice water.
Slice an X into the skin to make it peel off more easilySlice an X into the skin to make it peel off more easily
CoreCore
RinseRinse
Canners. Some cracks and dings, but overall great tomatoes.Canners. Some cracks and dings, but overall great tomatoes.
Salsa!Salsa!
  • Finished! We (hopefully) now have salsa for the next year.
  • Place the processed jars on a cooling rack or towel and allow them to cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours.
  • Remove the jars from the canner after processing, being careful not to tip them. The jars aren't sealed at this point, so sloshing the product around can interfere with the seal.
  • Rim wiped and ready for a lid
  • Release.... THE BUBBLES!
  • Top up. Since the funnel takes up some space in the jar, I found it easier to top up the jar without it.
  • Hot pack
  • Pour the hot water out of the jars, being careful not to pour it on yourself.
  • Heat the jars so they can be hot packed
  • Cook
  • More goodies for the compost
  • Another recipe
  • Night #2. Prepping the rest of the ingredients for the salsa.
  • No one was harmed in the making of this blog post. Tomatoes excluded.
  • That is a LOT of tomatoes. These are my three biggest pots and bowls,  minus the canner.
  • Naked maters.
  • You'll end up with all sorts of goodies like this that you can feed to your wormies or put in your compost.
  • Peel the skins off
  • Blanch in boiling water for around 60 seconds or until the skins start to peel off, then plunge in ice water.
  • Slice an X into the skin to make it peel off more easily
  • Core
  • Rinse
  • Canners. Some cracks and dings, but overall great tomatoes.
  • Salsa!

I was determined that I was going to can this year. Even if we didn’t have enough produce coming out of our own garden (which I think we probably will in a couple weeks), I wanted to can with local produce. So I swung by Fahrmeier Farms on a trip back from Kansas City to pick up some of their “canners.”

Canners are their tomatoes that have splits, cracks, or otherwise have some minor damage that makes them unsellable to traditional markets. Bret Fahrmeier reminded me that “people buy with their eyes.” Every year massive amounts of food get thrown away across the country because the produce wasn’t perfect. Growing my own food has made me realize how unrealistic it is to expect perfect foods all the time.

In general the tomatoes that most people prefer to can with are sauce-style tomatoes, like Romas, because their lower water content makes it easy to make sauces. The canners I got from the farm were standard slicing tomatoes, but at $10 for a case of local tomatoes (which I weighed later, and it came in at 27 pounds), I wasn’t going to be picky, and it turned out fine.

I am very picky, though, when it comes to following the rules of canning and using only scientifically tested recipes. I’ve taken canning classes through MU Extension, I’ve been trained as a food preservation workshop leader, and I’ve taken an online class through the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Canning is a valuable tool that should not be feared, but deserves respect. I trust up-to-date information and recipes from the National Center for Home Food Preservation, Extension, and big-name canning companies like Ball. Those are my rules.

Okay, off my soap box.

I made three salsa recipes from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. All three used jalapenos or cayenne peppers, and all are spicy. Very spicy. I’d probably swap out some of the hot peppers for bell peppers next time. (Swapping peppers for peppers is allowed in tested recipes as long as the total amount doesn’t change.)

I used the Tattler BPA-free reusable canning jar lids. They require an extra step. After you tighten the bands, you have to loosen them 1/4″ before you process the jars. Then, after the jars are processed, you tighten the bands again. Apparently the Tattler lids need a little more room to breathe during processing.

I did the washing, blanching and chopping on one night, then the actual canning on the following night. I was canning until 12:30am. As it turns out, 27 lb of tomatoes is a lot to can 4 pints at a time in the only water bath canner that will fit within my ceramic top stove manufacturer’s regulations. We ended up with 19 pints canned, plus probably a pint or two leftover after I ran out of jars.

One out of 19 jars didn’t seal properly, and it likely was my fault. I realized too late that I hadn’t wiped the rim of one jar before I put the lid on. No worries, though; we put the jar in the fridge and enjoyed our salsa.

For the first time, I have canned.

4 Responses to “Canning for the first time”

  1. Amy
    12 August 2011 at 8:22 am #

    Congratulations on your first canning! I have yet to do any canning on my own. It seems so daunting. I think I will give it a try after reading your post. Thanks!

  2. CoMo Homestead
    12 August 2011 at 8:42 am #

    Water bath canning is much less daunting than pressure canning. There are fewer steps to remember and less of a food safety risk because of the high acidity. If you’re up for trying it, I’d go with water bath canning first.

  3. Scott
    12 August 2011 at 9:20 am #

    Nice post, Annette. I think I’ll buy a bunch of tomatoes and can this Sunday. You’re right: respect, don’t fear canning. It’s easy enough.

    Also, give pickled okra a shot. I made about 4 or 5 pints last year and they went really, really fast.

    http://showmeeats.wordpress.com/2010/09/18/homemade-pickled-okra/

  4. CoMo Homestead
    12 August 2011 at 9:35 am #

    Thanks! I feel like I’ve studied canning so much that when it came down to actually doing it I wasn’t worried or second-guessing myself.

    I haven’t ventured into pickling yet, but I’ll have to think about okra.


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