Most of the recipes in this blog require very little effort to accomplish. I am a big fan of easy and quick! Good nutrition does not have to be complicated, right?! But there is just some occasions where you have to roll your sleeves up and go for that big project. Canning is a bit of a big project, but not so bad once you are properly organized. You just need the right tools and the job becomes easy. It is not a fast process, but one that I have come to enjoy. (After several very frustrating and blotched first attempts!!) If you just get well prepared and then follow the instructions, it will be breezy.
PS remember I am not a maser of the exact science…so this will be really easy!
- Most important is a “passaverdure” or a Food Mill ( This RSVP Food Mill looks really nice and is not expensive!)
- Waterbath canner
- Jar lifters
- A lid lifter
- Mason jars with medium or large mouth
- New lids and rings for your jars
I recommend to have at least 14 jars handy, depending on how many tomatoes you want to process. It makes sense to run a full canner (7 jars) so make sure you have enough tomatoes! Oh and a couple of big pots where to cook your tomatoes before they go into the jar.
As you can see from the photos I use a really old school manual food mill, I love it because that is what I know from Italy, it is easy to use and clean, it’s cheap and good for the environment and your muscles! If you prefer an easier option you can use a tomato processor. Those come in a manual version and in an electric version. If you have to process large quantities of tomatoes, I would definitively recommend one of those.
- Ripe tomatoes, best form your garden, or from the farmer.
- a handful of basil
- a small bottle of lemon juice
- Pluck off stems and rinse tomatoes.
- Fill a big stock pot with them all the way to the top, it helps to either cut them in pieces, or if you are pressed for time just wash you hands and squish them right in the pot!
- Put pot on a low flame and stir often, making sure it does not burn in the bottom, until tomatoes start to cook. You might want to add a bit of water to start the process, but very little, like ¼ cup.
- You can use a wooden spoon to smash them to the bottom, to help speed up the process.
- Once the tomatoes have softened and begin to loose the skin you can process them through the food mill.
- Use the finest screen available for the mill. Some of the seeds might come through, but it will be only a very small portion.
- I use a small heavy bowl to place under the food mill, so it will not slip away while I am turning the crank.
- Empty the pureed tomatoes straight back into another pot which goes right back to the fire.
- Every couple of rounds empty the top of the food mill from seeds and skins, for ease of operation. You can compost this part.
- Once all the tomatoes have been processed and are in the pot, you can let the puree simmer from about 5 min or up to a couple of hours, depending on the concentration you desire.
- The longer it cooks the denser the sauce will become.
- Add the basil into the pot at this time, and a handful of sea salt.
- In the meantime prepare a water bath for the empty jars, which you would have placed face up in the in the canner, with enough water to cover them.
- Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 10 min.
- Now you can remove the jars from the bath with the jar lifter.
- Let them air dry before filling with the hot tomato puree.
- You should add ⅔ tablespoon of lemon juice to each quart of sauce to ensure the acidity is adequate to prevent Botulinum spore growth. (The FDA recommends lemon juice in a bottle so the acidity level is consistent. I always use fresh lemon. Do not use Meyers lemons, they are not acidic enough.)
- At this point you can cover with the lids that were being held in a small pot of simmering water, to soften the seal.
- Finish tightening the rings well around the lid.
- Let the puree cool down and it is ready!
- If you feel unsure about the acidity of the tomatoes, and feel they might not keep well, you can put the full jars back in the water bath and boil for about 15/20 min.