In my book, The Survival Garden, I share how you can grow vegetables that don’t need to be canned, frozen, or dehydrated. If you’d like to learn more about this book, take a free look inside on Amazon. In my book The Four Season Vegetable Garden, I share the techniques of how to enable us to eat from our garden in season. Take a quick look at this book here.
This past couple of weeks, however, I have been canning. There are certain things that I do want to can for the winter, and this week what I have been canning are tomato products, hot pepper jelly, and green beans.
What Size Jars Do I use?
Although I have used some mayonnaise jars, I mostly use jars made for canning when I can. Yes, it is an investment. Where I live, quart jars are about $12 per dozen. Pints and half pints cost me about $9 right now. The food that goes into the jars are also an investment. Whether it’s purchased food or whether it’s food that I grew or food that I obtained in some other way (see last week’s blog post), it’s all an investment so it makes sense not to waste any of it.
I can in the size jar that I need for each food item that we’re likely to eat in a single meal. I use the size jar that my husband and I are likely to eat. That’s not saying that a family of four or larger should use the size jars that we are using. A family of that size or larger would need to use jars that suit them. However, a family of four could use what my husband and I use as a guide for their own canning in that in most cases they would need jars twice a big as what we are using.
Canning Green Beans
Although we do eat fresh green beans every week during the green bean growing season, and I do leave the beans to go to seed for dried beans and next year’s planting, my husband loves canned green beans, so I am canning as many of these as possible this year. We finished our first planting of bush beans. We picked beans off for a while, but when their started to be insect damage to the beans, we decided to pull up the plants and pull the good beans off the plants.
This year from this first planting of bush beans we have eaten beans fresh and canned pints of green beans. Green beans are one of the easiest vegetables to can.
First, we wash (some people sterilize, but I believe the pressure canner does that when the beans are cooking) the jars, lids, and rings. For green beans we use pint jars for the two of us. A jar of green beans is 16 ounces which is just two ounces more than a 14 ounce can that you purchase at the grocery store. We then snap the ends off the beans and cut them up and put them into the jar. Next, we add a ½ teaspoon of salt to each jar and pour water that has been brought to boiling over the beans up to 1 inch below the rim of the jar and covering the green beans. I double-check the tops of the jars to make sure there are no knicks or abnormalities on the tops and then clean off the tops of the jars with a damp towel to make sure that there’s nothing inhibiting the seal and put on the lids. I add the lids and rings that I tighten finger tight and put them into my pressure canner and process using the instructions that come with the canner. My canner recommends pressure canning pints of green beans at 10 pounds pressure (at my elevation of about 700 feet above sea level) for 20 minutes. I let the pressure go down completely and allow all the remaining air to escape before removing green beans. I then place the jars on a towel to allow them to cool. I leave them in that location for 24 hours before marking name of contents and date on lid and removing rings. I then move the finished jars to their permanent location.
If there is a jar that didn’t seal, I usually put it into the refrigerator and use it in a meal within the next few days. (Almost never have more than one that fails to seal and usually not even one.) I check the jar for defects and throw out the lid.
Because of how we use canned tomatoes, I can them in quart jars. We use canned tomatoes in pasta dishes (goulash), chili, and when we make Jeff’s Hamburger Soup (Check out this recipe on Hubpages).
I learned how to can tomatoes from my mother, and she almost never had a jar fail to seal. To can tomatoes, heat up clean disease-free tomatoes in a large pot of boiling water until the tomato skins begin to split. Now drain and cool the tomatoes in a colander. If you want, add a little ice to the tomatoes to cool them faster. Once the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skin, stem end, and any excess green area and place into jar. Fill the jar up to 1 inch from the rim and squish tomatoes down into the jar so that there is no air pockets in the jar. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the top of each jar. Don’t worry about mixing it in, it will mix in during the canning process. The canning process from here on out is the same as with the green beans at 10 pounds pressure except process for 15 minutes (as stated above, canning pressure and time may vary check out your pressure canner for details specific to your situation.)
Tomato juice is another ingredient I need for Jeff’s hamburger soup, and we also like to use it to drink as well so we are trying to put up as much of this as possible. I make this in quart jars as well. To make tomato juice, I cook clean, disease-free tomatoes in a pot until the tomatoes are cooked through and releasing their juice. Now remove the tomatoes from the water and place them into other containers to cool so that you can handle them. Next, I use the hand-crank tomato strainer pictured above and run the tomatoes through the machine to remove the seeds and skin. I usually run the tomatoes through the strainer several times to ensure that I get all the pulp I can from the tomatoes. I then put the juice I have made into the jars, add a teaspoon of salt and can like I did the tomatoes for 15 minutes in the pressure canner.
Tomato Sauce for Pasta and Pizza
I have started making our own tomato sauce. I can our tomato sauce for pasta in pint jars and tomato sauce for pizza in half-pint jars because as I said earlier, we don’t want any of our canned food to go to waste.
I juice the tomatoes just like I did for the tomato juice and put it into a large pot. If I make a major amount, I use the canner as that pot. I fill the pot with as much tomato juice as I have juice and add finely chopped onions, peppers, garlic, and sometimes zucchini squash to cook. (If you like chunky sauce, don’t chop the vegetables coarsely instead.). I like to fill the pot to the brim when possible and then cook it down to about half the pot. An electric roasting pan also works well for this process. Once the tomato sauce is cooked to about half, for a richer thicker sauce, add tomato paste to the thickness you like. Ladle into jars, apply lids and rings and I pressure can for 30 minutes for both pint jars and half pints.
To make salsa, I do much like I do for the pasta and pizza sauce except I dice the tomatoes instead of sauce them. I then add coarsely chopped sweet peppers, onions, and hot peppers.
When handling hot peppers, be sure to wear gloves because the juice from the hot peppers will burn your hands. Remove the stems. If you want a hot salsa, leave the seeds in the salsa. The heat will increase as the salsa sits on the shelf. If you want a medium or mild salsa, remove the seeds.
Put it all into a pot and cook down until the vegetables are completely cooked and add as much tomato paste as you want to thicken the salsa to the desired consistency. Can in a pressure canner for 20 minutes.
How Much Did I Can so far this month?
During the past couple of weeks, I canned 29 jars of green beans, four ½ pint jars of hot pepper jelly, (I used the recipe on the pectin package)14 ½ pint jars of pizza sauce, 15-pint jars of pasta sauce, 13-quart jars of tomatoes, and 6 jars of tomato juice. I haven’t done any salsa yet, but I have the ingredients to do a batch this week.
Do you can and how much have you canned so far? Feel free to comment below.