Archive for June 20th, 2011

Canning 101


Posted by Mikie Baker  |  No Comments »

With the heat blistering outside and the tomatoes coming on full force, it’s the perfect time of year to whip up a batch of delicious Tomato Basil Spaghetti Sauce here at the Dancing Dog Ranch. These boys need a good home in a jar.

116 tomatoes (thanks Cuz for counting them)

I wonder how many jars of sauce this will make? Well, follow along and we shall see.

Okay, now it’s time for a few canning basics. If you don’t know how to can, there are two types: pressure cooking or water bath canning. I don’t know how to use a pressure cooker correctly and I’m afraid if I try I’ll blow a whole through the roof which would be a bad thing in this heat.

So, we’re talking water bath canning today. Here’s the supplies you need.

You can buy all this as a set

Except for that green rubber mat. The Teenage Eating Machine gave it to me and I use it to put the hot pot on. What comes in the set? A large pot that will accommodate either pint or quart jars, a jar holder, a funnel for getting your product into said jars, a bubble popper and tongs to get the hot jars out of the boiling water. This set also comes with the Ball’s Blue Book – the standard in canning. It covers how to can everything in much more detail that I can.

Now before you can start canning, you need something to go in the jars. And before you  make the recipe, you have to do lots to the tomatoes to get them ready. Here’s the process. Boys, can you give me some skins?

Plunge your homegrown tomatoes in boiling water

Don’t worry, they won’t feel a thing and actually don’t scream like lobsters do. Leave them in the water for 1 minute, take a slotted spoon to remove one by and one and then plunge them in an ice bath.

It cools them right off just like a cold shower on a hot summer night

Remove them from the water and then skin ’em. It’s a lot easier than plucking a chicken, I can tell you. The boiling water and ice bath make the skins slide right off. You didn’t really think this Big City girl ever plucked a chicken, did you?

A variety of regular tomatoes skinned

There are many types of tomatoes, but Roma’s are definitely the easiest of the bunch for making Spaghetti Sauce. They have less seeds and are firmer. This is what they look like.

Roma’s are pear shaped

Now comes the really messy part. First you need to core every tomato to remove the hard, white part, then you remove the seeds and chop them up in chunks. You need plenty of paper towels to sop up all the juice. Work in batches and throw the chopped up pieces into a colander to drain so you won’t have runny Spaghetti Sauce. Remember you want a nice thick sauce.

That’s all you get from 116 tomatoes – it’s 8 cups worth

The next step is to make your sauce. You can make any kind you like, but tomorrow I’m going to share with you a recipe I found that’s been a great hit around these parts. I found it on the Internet and will give credit where credit is due. I am not one to make up a recipe. I just make you laugh.

I didn’t bother to take pictures of chopping up the vegetables, because if you don’t know how to chop vegetables maybe you shouldn’t be canning to begin with. I did take a picture of the finished sauce, but it just looked yucky.

Okay until tomorrow, ponder this: just how many tomatoes gave their life for a jar a ketchup?

Spreading laughter throughout the world…one chuckle at a time.

Mikie Baker