Think chili, soup, goulash, spaghetti, stew...That's what I buy every year--tons of tomatoes! I love canning them. Why?
First: Canned tomatoes are healthier for you then fresh tomatoes.
Tomatoes contain the chemical lycopene--an antioxidant which protects you from cancer(s) and helps prevent appendicitis. The heat process of canning breaks down the lycopene so it is more easily absorbed into your system.
Second: There are so many things to can with tomatoes; including whole tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, salsas, chili sauce, juice, catsup, sauce, paste, relish, pizza and spaghetti sauce, chutney, preserves... I usually make all of the above; that is, until I run out of tomatoes (or money to buy them with). I go through 300-500 pounds of tomatoes during canning season. I buy 25 pound boxes of "canners" for $15-$20 from Fairview Farms. This box makes about 12+ quarts of tomatoes. That's cheaper than store bought and sooo much better tasting.
Following are instructions for canning whole tomatoes:
1. Wash jars and lids, check for chips or cracks
2. Heat jars & lids in water on stove or roaster (see canning tips 8/11/11)
3. Set up following equipment:
a) Put canner or deep pot with rack on bottom on stove; fill 2/3 with water and turn stove on to get water hot (near boiling)
b) Set out canning utensils: slotted spoon, tomato corer (shark), jar funnel, magnetic lid lifter, metal spatula or table knife, jar lifter, canning salt** (optional), citric acid or lemon juice, gloves (see tips 8/11/11)
**Salt is used only as flavor enhancer, so you may omit it if you'd like.
c) clean sink, large pot or cooler filled with ice water; I freeze plastic containers ahead of time to save adding ice to keep water cold.
d) large, non-aluminium bowl or pot to put peeled tomatoes in
1. Wash tomatoes
2. Put 6-8 in pot of boiling water for few minutes or until skins start to split
3. Immerse tomatoes in cold water
4. Slip off skins and core tomatoes
5. Add citric acid or lemon juice and salt to jars. (salt: 1 tsp/quart, 1/2 tsp/pint; citric acid: 1/2 tsp/quart, 1/4 tsp/pint; lemon juice 2 TB/quart, 1 TB/quart). I like citric acid--it doesn't alter the flavor like lemon juice does.
6. Add tomatoes and press gently until spaces fill with juice. Fill jars to within 1/2" from top. Slip spatula or knife around inside edge to remove air bubbles. Adjust liquid if necessary.
7. Wipe jar rims and put on lids/bands. (Screw bands on finger-tip tight.)
8. Put jars in canner making sure water is 2+ inches above jars. Add hot tap water if necessary to fill. Cover pot.
9. Turn heat on high and bring water to boil. When water boils, start timing: 45 minutes for quarts, 35 minutes for pints.
10. When time is up; turn off heat, remove lid and let jars sit in hot water for 5 minutes.
11. Remove jars and set out to cool (wire rack or cutting board). When cool, check to see that lid is sealed (does not flex when pressed in center)You may remove screw bands when cool, before storing.