Today at the Catonsville farmers market I was able to pick up 50 lbs of tomatoes for $20. Since this is the first time I have bought that many tomatoes I am not sure if it is a good deal or not but being able to can my own means that I can control what goes into them. Ryan has high blood pressure so being able to control how much salt is in our food is very important to me. Also with the Celiacs Disease I know that there is no chance of cross contamination with these sauces and tomatoes.
So what did I learn today: First, I learned that I needed a bigger canner! I had never canned anything other than peaches, pears and jams, which means I have never canned anything larger than a pint. Today I canned quarts, my little canner was just not big enough to handle the job.
Second, next year I need to invest in a bigger stock pot to make my sauce in. I had to do it in two batches. The first batch that I made I did not peal the tomatoes first, I just washed and sliced. The second batch that I made I blanched the tomatoes first and took the skins off, then I squeezed some of the seeds and extra water out. The second batch that I made reduced to sauce much faster and I did not have to strain out the skins.
Last, I learned that vinegar works just as well as lemon juice as a preserving agent. This was a great discovery because I did not have enough lemon juice for the job, and I had tons of vinegar. As long as the vinegar is 5% acidity.
So at the end of the day I have 7 quarts of sauce and 10 quarts of whole tomatoes. No bad for a days work. I know it is not enough to last us all year, but it is a good place to start. Next year I hope to can enough tomato sauce to not have to buy any from the store. Eventually, my ultimate dream would be to grow all of our own tomatoes and not have to buy any sauce from the store… I think we are a few years away from that, but it is nice to have goals.