With 4 plants, I'd be concentrating on good eating tomatoes. Buy the
canning tomatoes from a local farm by the bushel. Enjoy the fresh
ones while you are able.
I plant a dozen plants and don't plan on canning any. [if I have a
good crop I'll do some chili sauce]
If I get enough peppers and tomatoes at once, I can a batch or two of
salsa, but mostly my tomatoes are for eating fresh and giving a few
away. Commercial canned tomatoes are so good and so cheap, it hardly
pays to can your own -- except occasionally as practice so you know
*how* to can your own if you need to someday. In a pinch I can use
canned whole tomatoes (the big #10 cans from Sam's Club) and fresh
chiles and onions to make salsa.
Tomatillos actually grow better here (Minnesota) than tomatoes, so I
like growing a few of them for green salsa. They usually reseed
themselves and I just transplant a few, but I didn't get any volunteer
seedlings last year so I bought some fresh tomatillos and planted
seeds saved from the biggest one. They are coming along nicely.
Here's my favorite salsa recipe:
(from USDA bulletin 539) yield: 6 to 8 pints
5 pounds tomatoes
2 pounds chile peppers
1 pound onions, chopped
1 cup vinegar (5%)
3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Roast and peel peppers if they have tough skins (not necessary with
jalapeρos or serranos) remove seeds and stems, chop. Scald and peel
tomatoes; chop. Combine all ingredients in large saucepan. Bring to
a boil and simmer 10 minutes. Ladle into pint jars, leave 1/2 inch
headspace. Adjust lids and process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
Notes: If the tomatoes are too juicy, add an 8 ounce can of tomato
sauce or a tablespoon of tomato paste. I like using half bottled
lemon juice and half white vinegar instead of straight vinegar. I
don't know why but it tastes better than using all vinegar or all
Thanks. Oh, I don't see that my canned stewed tomatoes are any better
than what I could buy at the store. It's just the satisfaction of
doing it. I was raised by a career woman who made strawberry jam
*once*. That was the total of her canning.
Thanks for the recipe!
I sympathize with running a hobby to completion once and then losing
interest. I've done that with most of the crafts that I have tried. I
demonstrated to myself I could do X. Done. Next project type.
Only a few hobbies I've continued. Herb gardens, home brewing ...
I even lost interest in home brewing once I "mastered" mashing pale
grain malt. But I've been thinking I should dust off my equipment and
try it again and see how much I've forgotten; see if I can still brew
a drinkable beer.
This is an unconventional answer because it's a cherry tomato, but the Sun
Gold makes incredible sauce. The Sun Gold is terrific eating tomato, the
sweetest of any tomato that I've eaten. It's also an extremely prolific
plant, they start producing early and they continue to produce for months
so you'll have more tomatoes that you'll know what to do with. I made
about 5 gallons of sauce from them last year which I'm still eating. I
freeze my sauce, I don't can so I'm not sure how well it will work for
that, but for frozen sauce they're great.
As an aside, don't buy your plants from a big box store, buy them from a
local nursery. The big box stores don't carry interesting varieties, a
good nursery will have many more choices including heirlooms, and the
plants will be better adapted to local conditions. The plants will also be
healthier, the big box stores wiped out the entire New England tomato crop
a couple of years ago by selling plants that were infected with late
I was pretty sure I'd get some objections when I posted about Lowe's
or Home Depot. At least I didn't say Wal*Mart. We have no local
nursery. Used to many years ago. The closest possible is 35 miles
away. Gas prices being what they are....
Apparently we haven't had the blight problem here as this is a major
commercial tomato growing area and if we'd had it there would have
been a huge hew and cry.
A few years ago I made an attempt at canning catsup. That was just
too much work for one measly pint. I'm guessing that making tomato
sauce would be the same. I tried making spaghetti sauce once, but it
came out bitter. Tried twice and didn't like the results either time.
I thought I'd burned it the first time since my stove doesn't turn
down as low as it should so the second time I stirred it for the
entire 20 or 30 minutes. Waaay too much work and still awful.
I've always grown some Sweet 100s that were just delicious eating
tomatoes. Almost like candy.
For sauces, the skins and seeds need to be removed with a food strainer.
Seeds and skins can cause the sauce to become bitter. Also hot house
tomatoes tend to be bitter anyways. Commercial tomato venders cannot
provide a good vine ripen tomato, no way, just not possible. Fresh vine
ripe is always sweeter almost candy like.
Minutes to make sauce for canning... Try hours.... :)
Either you are on the other side of the planet or cat like me and up half
the night. Three in the morning here watching the lighting in the distance
Enjoy Life... Nad R (Garden in zone 5a Michigan)
Well, take those objections with a grain of salt. All of that rhapsodic
prose about local nurseries simply "ain't necessarily so". Many of them sell
plants that come in on the back of a truck just like the "big box" boys; they
just don't tell you. There is nothing magical about unusual, oddball varieties
or heirlooms. I say experiment until you find a variety that suits your palate
and your garden and stick with it. You might try to find out what other folks in
your area grow and use that as a starting point. Grow what you eat the most of
(because, at the end of the year, that's what you will have spent the most money
on) and save the cash for the relatively expensive treats, says I; anything else
is false economy.
You must really have specific tastes, if you're willing to can your own
stewed tomatoes. Or, maybe, you're having a domesticity attack ;-)! It happens,
sometimes, LOL. I can offer no specific suggestions because, to my taste, there
isn't a dime's worth of difference among them, although, I'm certain some tomato
varieties are better suited to specific uses than are others. My garden grows
determinate (Celebrity) because they're reliable and early AWA indeterminate
(Big Boy) because they're reliable and everbearing (at least until Jul-Aug) and
easily rejuvenate for a second crop in the fall. This morning, they all (four of
each) are loaded with fruit, much of it frying sized. I only grow a few tomatoes
and most of those don't make it to ripeness because we eat more of them green.
I'm not much of a fruit eater and ripe tomatoes are "okay" as long as they're
not sweet. Ripe tomatoes are "for" hamburgers; end of story. LOL We always let a
few ripen, though, because DW likes the occasional fresh tomato with meals and I
eat them, if they're there.
As you know from your own experiece, BWB is perfectly fine for acidic foods
like (most) tomatoes and the percentage of peppers present is not likely to be a
problem. If you're unsure, add a bit of ascorbic and/or citric acid to the
finished product; that's what commercial canners do and it is undetectable.
Citric acid also helps retain color. See the "****" footnote on the citation
further down. USDA used to have a web site that addressed food safety at home,
including home canning. Probably still does; I didn't look. The Ball "blue book"
remains the standard reference. Warning: Many of the suzy home-maker variety
private web sites are dessiminating inaccurate or misleading information that
may prove hazardous to your health or, at the very least, will produce an
Some years back, unbeknownst to me, my wife ordered the blue book directly
from Ball. Within a couple of days, I bought a copy at a discount chain
bookstore, Booksamillion or some such. When the book arrived from Ball, we
discovered the off-the-rack copy was a later edition. Life is funny that way
You may find the information here to be redundant but I hope some of it is
Thanks so much! Yes, it's excessive domesticity. As I said in
another post to someone else, I really don't see that my canned
tomatoes are any better. It's just the challenge and satisfaction of
doing it. I was not raised by a stay-at-home-mom (rare for the 50's)
so this canning business is new to me.
I grow green beans, too, but I freeze those. Except for last year
when I went on vacation leaving instructions to my adult daughter to
water the garden. She managed to water the tomatoes and bell peppers
(I had excellent ones last year) but completely ignored the bean which
were in an adjacent plot. Hmph.
I tried corn one year but it was completely overwhelmed by ants. yuck.
Also, it fell over and I had to stake it up. All I can think is that
I over watered it. I never tried again.
I appreciate your dash of humor.
Well, that's worth something. Besides, having done it, you now know _how_
to do it and the knowledge may be important to you one day. Learned skills
sometimes seem to spread into other areas of ones life. I'm with you on the
canned tomatoes. Except for some store brands and "no-names", which often
contain too high a percentage of overripe and spoiled fruit, most of canned
tomatoes are cookie-cutter. As long a "Cento" keeps putting the little plum
jobbies into cans, we're covered in the spaghetti sauce department. If they're
good enough for Lidia Bastianich, they're certainly good enough for my old
cracker self. Oh, and "Goya" Spanish style tomato sauce.
Same here. We cook them with a tiny bit of salt until "almost" done and
then freeze them. That way, they don't overcook when reheated. Besides, why fool
with blanching when, for the price of just a little more gas, one can have
ready-made leftovers? Always grow a couple of varieties of snap beans and try to
grow baby limas, when the grasshoppers will let me.
...and we're to believe you surprised? Certainly no parent is ;-) That's
just the way things go, sometimes.
I can offer only sympathy; for a number of reasons, our garden hasn't had
any corn in it for quite a few years. We just buy it when in season and
relatively cheap, although, it never is fresh "enough".
I make a years supply of sauce at the end of August or in early September
which is the end of my growing season. I violate the rule about pealing
the tomatoes, I found that it's unnecessary if you use enough garlic, so
my procedure is fairly simple. I use a blender to puree the tomatoes along
with the garlic and herbs, I use a handful of garlic in each blender batch
along with some fresh rosemary, basal and oregano. I fill a 20 quart pot
with the puree, add salt and some cut up tomatoes, and cook it on medium
heat until been reduced by about a third. I then freeze it. At a later
date I'll unfreeze a few quarts and add sauteed hamburger, onion and
garlic. I also add sauteed shrimp, garlic, shallots and white wine. I do
the meat and shrimp as separate batches because the meat needs to be
drained in a colander to get the fat out, but the shrimp and white wine is
added to the sauce without draining because you want the wine in the
sauce. I use olive oil to saute the onions and garlic. I freeze the
finished sauce in smaller containers, and the unfreeze it as needed. The
sauce gets better then longer it's in the freezer and it will keep for
years. Last year I used Sun Golds and Sweet 100s along with some Cosmonaut
Volkovs and it made the best sauce that I've ever made (I've been doing
this for 30 years). Making the sauce base takes about 30-45 minutes of
work, and a couple of hours on the stove to reduce the sauce. Upgrading it
to the full sauce takes about the same amount of work, but for each batch
you do you get a dozen meals or so.
Romas usually make good sauces and are meatier than slicers. I like
Viva Italia but unfortunately it doesn't seem to be found in most
stores as either seed or plant. I mail order seeds for almost all of
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