End of Summer Canning

Do any of you can produce? My husband ventured into canning this year (my only role was as taster and label-designer.) Canning was sort of unexpected. Victor and I headed over to my parent's house mid-way through September to turn their garden down for an autumn planting of radishes, beets and lettuce. After pulling out just six tomato plants, we ended up with more than 30 pounds of tomatoes. As we cut down the plants, more and more tomatoes appeared from under leaves and behind stalks. It seemed endless. The amount of tomatoes we harvested was NUTS.

Here's a photo of our bounty I took with my iPhone:

Thirty-some pounds of delicious, heirloom tomatoes. Four different types and flavors. The deep red tomatoes at the top of the photo had the most intoxicating smokey flavor. We will definitely be growing those next year.

And, when you have pounds upon pounds of one type of produce, you are-in a way-very limited with what you can do. Make a pie? There goes one pound. Give some away? There goes only 10.

My husband took the juicy ripe ones and reduced them down on the stove along with some other choice ingredients. It took about six hours for everything to reduce down to the right amount. I went to bed and Victor was still in the kitchen, tending those tomatoes. I woke up the next morning to jars upon jars of expertly canned spicy heirloom tomato jam. Yum!

My husband chose this particular recipe for the jam because the jars seal themselves after canning, which makes the process quite a bit easier.

I have to tell you, if you've never had tomato jam--please seek it out. It works expertly as a savory or a sweet addition to any meal. It's great with sour cream on chips. Fabulous spread over cream cheese on a cracker. Delicious on top of a warm brie.

My husband then took the green tomatoes--unriped little green gems they are--and pickled those.

We've given a few as gifts already and so far they've been a hit. We thought we were going to give them away over the holidays but everything is so good we are thinking we might just want to hang on to them awhile longer. ;)

Here's his recipe:

Makes 2 8oz. jars

Equipment: 4 qt. saucepan 2 (8oz.) glass canning jars with new lids and bands Canning pot with rack small bowl lid wand jar lifter or tongs plastic spatula wide-mouth funnel

Ingredients: 1.5 lbs tomatoes, cored and chopped 2.5 cups granulated sugar 1" piece of cinnamon stick 4 3" strips of lemon zest, remove with a vegetable peeler 2 whole cloves 1/4 c. ruby port

Method: 1. Combine tomatoes and any juice, sugar, zest, cinnamon, cloves and port in the 4qt. saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, skim any foam off the top. Lower heat to medium low and simmer, stirring now and then. As things thicken up, stir more often. 2. Test the jam to see if it's can-able. Put a small plate in the freezer for around 10 minutes and put a spoonful of jam on top and put it in the fridge for 2 minutes. If it gels up, you can can! 3. While the jam cooks, sterilize the jars, rings, lids. Add enough water in the canning pot to cover things by 2". Bring to a boil, immerse the jars and the metal bands. 4. When the jam is ready, remove from heat and discard the cinnamon stick, cloves, and lemon zest. 5. Remove the jars from the water with a jar lifter, keeping the water boiling. Ladle the hot jam into the jars using the funnel and leave 1/4" at the top for space. Wipe the rims clean, place lids on top and screw on the bands until finger tight (not too tight.) 6. Lower jars into pot and make sure they're covered by at least 1" of water. When the water is boiling, let it sit for 5 minutes. Move the jars to a heat safe surface and let them cool completely. 7. Listen for the 'pop' sound to let you know the jars are sealed. Check the lids and make sure they're depressed. If the jar did not seal, keep it in the fridge for 2 weeks and eat! If it's done right, it will store for up to 1 year in a cool, dark place. Refrigerate after you open any of the jars.

You can use dry pectin if you want, but add it in step 1.