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The fall is a very busy time of year. The garden often likes to ripen all at once, and all that food needs to be preserved for the winter. I have been helping with the garden since I was little, but was very limited as an adult because of my bad hips. Once I got shiny, new hips, a whole new world of food preservation opened up to me. Last year, I had a great garden and canned quite a bit of food. But, this year I am just marveling at how YHVH is provided just the right amount. My goal has been to preserve the food we regularly eat, enough to get us to the next harvest. I did reasonably well last year, but didn’t quite make it to this year’s harvest. With ten people in the house, a year’s worth of pickle slices is 48 quarts. The same goes for salsa and tomato sauce. I didn’t even own that many jars last year.
Again, as I’m harvesting, I have been able to focus on one harvest at a time, and then the next veggie ripens. I have filled my quota for the year with a little left over to enjoy fresh. I have walked into the last store in town to find two dozen canning jars when all the other stores were out. It has reminded me of the passage in Deuteronomy where we are told the blessings for obeying.
The Lord will command the blessing on you in your barns and in all that you undertake. And He will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
The Lord will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands.Deuteronomy 28:8, 12
Yah is good. He provides just what we need when we need it. Our job is to be faithful with what He provides and make the most of it. And offer big grateful thanks to Him as well!
As we ponder His goodness, let’s talk about tomatoes and how I make the most of them. I’ll admit, tomatoes are one of my favorite veggies to grow and I usually have about two dozen plants.
Easy Tomato Sauce
Is it just me or is it super annoying to peel tomatoes? We are supposed to pop those tomatoes in boiling water for the perfect amount of seconds, then drop them in ice water and burn our fingers while we peel the skin off. If we don’t cook them long enough, the skin still doesn’t come off. If we cook them too long, we are left with mush. If you decide to not peel the tomatoes, you will need to run them through a sieve or mill to remove all the bits of seeds and skin after you cook the sauce.
Thanks to my husband’s ingenuity, we found a much better way to make tomato sauce.
Enter a Vitamix. A Vitamix pulverizes the tomatoes. I can’t vouch for other blenders, though.
Here’s what we do.
- Wash your tomatoes and remove any stems or nasty blemishes. Soft spots are okay, but remove rotten stuff.
- Quarter bigger tomatoes. Throw smaller tomatoes and tomato wedges right into the blender. Blend on high for about 45 seconds. I usually need to use the pusher at first, then turn it loose. I have a big clock in my kitchen with a second hand to keep track. Make sure you blend long enough, otherwise you will still need a mill or sieve.
- Pour the blended tomatoes in your stockpot. They still need to be cooked down. At first they will look more pink and foamy. As it cooks down, it will look like a nice red tomato sauce.
- Season now if you like. We make lots of pizza and spaghetti sauce, so we add minced garlic, salt, and oregano or Italian seasoning. It takes a lot more than you think.
- Reduce by at least half. The sauce should stick to a spoon.
- Then you are able to can it.
My Canning Procedure
I cook down all my sauce and when it is getting close to being the right consistency, I turn my oven on to 200 degrees F. I put clean quart canning jars in the oven to heat up. For lids, if you are using metal lids, just have them ready. It is not needed to heat them up. If you are using Tattler lids, put them in a sauce pan of water and bring them to a simmer. They need to be hot to seal correctly.
I get my canner ready with water on the stove and turn it on high. I then make sure my space is all set up and I have the following tools handy.
- hot pad by my stockpot, plus a couple more
- canning tongs
- jar lids and rings
- canning funnel
Here’s how I fill my jars.
- I get a hot jar out of the oven with a hot pad, and put it on the hot pad near my stock pot.
- I use my canning funnel and ladle to fill the jar with hot sauce.
- I leave 1/2 inch headspace (yes, I eyeball it), wipe the rim with my finger, and put the lid on, only just tight, not cranked down.
- With my canning tongs, I put it in my “heating-up” canner.
- Once all my jars are full, I make sure water is over the top of the jars, and pop the lid on.
- Then I wait the egregious amount of time it takes to get that canner to a boil.
- After I reach that holy grail of a royal boil, I boil them. I found several different recommended times for processing, from 20-35 minutes. We’ll all have to make that call for ourselves, I guess.
- At the end of the time, turn the heat off and let those jars sit in the water for 5 min. Then they are safe to lift out, and put on a towel to cool.
Look at all those beautiful jars! I hope my tomato sauce method will be helpful to you as you preserve your own blessings from Yah. This is my favorite canning book, in case you need one.