It has been a busy week, picking apples and turning them into applesauce and apple butter and harvesting and preserving tomatoes. Yum! There is nothing better than homemade food. I must confess, there is a sense of satisfaction in growing your own apples and tomatoes and then, picking them and then preserving them. Yeah!
Here are 4 Lessons I have learned about harvesting and canning the last few weeks.
1. Use a Victorio Strainer to Make Applesauce
This handy dandy contraption I originally purchased at a garage sale, and it has been worth it’s weight in gold as I have made applesauce. You simmer your apples in chunks in boiling water for a few minutes to soften them, then you put the fruit stems, peels and all through this little baby. It filters out the seeds, stems and anything other than the applesauce which comes out the bottom. It is like magic!!!
Then you simply put the applesauce in jars and use a water bath canner to seal them shut.
2. How to prevent jars from cracking
Crack! NOOOO!!!! I cringe! There is no worse sound in the world to someone who is canning: The cracking of a jar you just so carefully packed. I hate it when the second you put them in or take them out of the boiling water and they crack….darn it! So much wasted time and work.
But this year I did a little extra research and learned how to prevent this from happening. Drum roll please!!! You simply need to put the jars in and out of the hot water more slowly.
This means you need to be a little more patient and you will have less of a chance of your jars cracking. Here is what I do now. First I make sure that whatever food or liquid I am packing is already pretty hot when I put it into the jars. Next, I leave the jars halfway submerged in the jar rack for about 5 minute before I place them in all the way.
I use the reverse process when taking them out. I turn off the heat, and lift the jar rack up so that the jars are halfway submerged. Leave it this way for 5 minutes to cool before removing the jars.
This has dramatically reduced the amount of cracked jars I have had. YAY!!!
3. Easiest Way to Preserve Tomatoes
The EASIEST way to preserve tomatoes is
- take off the stems
- wash them
- blend them up
- freeze them in freezer bags
- No need to cook them before you freeze them–especially since I cook everything once I defrost them, so why cook them twice, right?
I have been preserving tomatoes this way for years. When I first started doing this my husband made me call the county extension office to make sure it was safe for me to blend the tomatoes with their skins on. They told me that was fine, so I have been doing it ever since.
4. Pint Size Freezer Bags
Ziploc has a pint size (2 cup) freezer bag now!!!! I am so excited! I can now freeze my tomatoes in smaller increments without feeling like I am wasting a larger quart size bag. Hurray!
I use these pint-size bags now whenever my recipes call for a 14.5 ounce can of tomatoes. I figure two cups is pretty close to that.
I love this new sized bag. It is also the perfect size if you are freezing a one-person portion of a meal. Use these! You will love them too!
Those are my new canning tips. Enjoy the fruits of your labors!