It’s that time of year when our gardens and farmer’s markets start to be full of delicious fresh tomatoes, and we are all looking for new and different recipes to try (especially my friend Dona Johnson!). Last fall I decided to do something I hadn’t done in years – can! Canning really isn’t all that difficult, once you understand the basic steps:
- Wash the jars, lids and rings with hot soapy water (or in the dishwasher). Keep warm in a pot of simmering water (or they should stay warm enough in the dishwasher).
- Select and make the recipe.
- Fill the jars; remove air bubbles.
- Wipe the rims of the jars clean, put on lids and screw on rings (but not overly tight, as air inside the jars needs to escape during processing).
- Place filled jars into canning rack and lower into simmering water that covers jars by 1 inch. Cover and boil jars for amount of time specified in recipe, adjusting for high altitude (+5 minutes for every 3000 feet above sea level).
- Turn off heat; let jars stand in water for 5 minutes. Remove and place on clean dish towel to cool at room temperature for at least 12 hours (or as specified in recipe). Do not tighten rings until after cooling.
- Press on center of cooled lid; if the lid does not flex up or down then it is sealed! If the jar didn’t seal properly, then refrigerate it.
My mom Sally, with whom I wrote “A Well-Seasoned Kitchen”, used to frequently make fabulous jams and chutneys, and she never liked this water bath method. She just followed the directions above through step 4, then left the jars on the kitchen counter. They make a fun popping sound as they seal. Note that both the water bath and self sealing methods are used for high acid foods, like tomatoes and most jams and jellies. For other foods you’ll need to use a pressure cooker.
Now, back to the recipe – I had a bunch of ripe plum tomatoes from the farmer’s market, and found a delicious sounding recipe for canned tomato bruschetta topping in Taste of the South magazine, so I decided to give it a try. It was great fun, all the jars sealed (yea!) and the result was scrumptious. And, I had several jars to give as a different and fun hostess gift!
Below is my adaption of the Taste of the South recipe. I don’t believe their original recipe is still available on line to share here (at least I can’t find it!).
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 6 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
- 6 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 5 cloves garlic
- 9 cups chopped cored plum tomatoes
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- Prepare boiling water canner, jars, rings and lids as described above.
- In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine wine, vinegars, water, sugar, oregano, basil and garlic. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until sugar dissolves, around 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and onion; return to a boil and continue cooking at a boil for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Ladle hot tomato mixture into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch space between the top of the food and the rim of the jar. Remove air bubbles; add more tomato mixture as needed to keep headspace at 1/2 inch. Wipe rims clean; place lids on jars and screw on rings. Place jars in canner covered by at least 1 inch of water. Bring water to a boil and process jars over high heat for 20 minutes from when the water begins to boil – remember high altitude adjustments if needed (see above). Turn off heat and let jars rest in canner for 5 minutes. Remove and place on a clean dish towel to cool. Let rest undisturbed for 24 hours.
- When ready to serve, drain off some of the liquid (otherwise I found it to be a bit too runny) and serve over brie or goat cheese on toasted baguette slices.