RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—There's been a huge movement this year to growing your own food; even the White House started an organic garden! If you're one of the many new gardeners on the market, you may be up to your knees in juicy tomatoes this time of the year—and wondering what exactly you should do with them (assuming the blight that struck earlier in the year didn't wreck your crop). Canning some of those tomatoes is a great solution to a backyard tomato surplus. So we spoke with Aimee Good, CSA farmer at Quiet Creek Farm, a commnity-supported agriculture program at the Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania, to give us step-by-step directions and tips. Good promises that canning is pretty easy, once you get the hang of it. Ready to give it a try? Here's what you'll need for water-bath canning, which is commonly used for high-acid foods like tomatoes.
• A large pot with a lid, or a canner (available online at places like Lehman's)
• Glass canning jars, lids, and screwbands (commonly available at grocery stores and online)
• A jar funnel, to fill jars easily and cleanly
• If you'd like, you can peel the skins before canning, but you don't have to. If you opt to skin your 'maters, dip them first in boiling water to loosen the skins, then plunge them in cold water. Drain, peel, and core. "I prefer to not peel or remove seeds from my tomato products, except perhaps for tomato soup, for which I use a food mill," says Good. "It makes them much easier to process, and we never mind eating the seeds and skins."
• To sterilize your canning jars, see the Nickel Pincher's canning recipes.