Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cukes and Tomato canning

The last two days we've been busy around here canning.  Yesterday was tomato day and today was cucumber or to be more exact pickles.  I'm exhausted.  For some reason canning seems to be very hard on your feet!

Anyway, we did plain old cut up tomatoes, tomato soup and new this year BBQ sauce.  I had already done some Tomato Basil sauce a few weeks back.  Unfortunately, I'm having much the same problem as last year (actually worse) only for an opposite reason.  Last year as I looked back on my blog entries I had been short tomato's due to too much rain.  This year I think the drought stunted them and though I have green ones I haven't yet got a ripe red full size tomato.

I went to planting all heirlooms this year and started them all from seed.  It's very gratifying when it works out but terribly disappointing when you have the weather we had this year!  Next year I think I'll go back to doing a mix of heirlooms and hybrids just in case.  I just don't think the heirlooms handle some things as well (stress, fungus, blight, bugs etc...)
Tomato soup ready to jar

This year I will share the tomato soup as I now have done it for two years and worked the kinks out.  It is a condensed soup and taste not exactly but close to Campbell's.  It's not quite as healthy as a more "homemade" tasting but my kids got the Campbell's taste stuck on their taste buds so this makes a nice substitute.  Logan is a huge fan of this one!

Tomato soup concentrate (from my friend Heather, thanks!)
1/2 onion chopped
1 1/2 cup butter or Crisco (I used no animal protein margarine)
1/4 cup salt
3/4 cup of sugar
1 1/2 t. pepper
28 cups tomato juice (I just peel and core hole tomatoes then blend in blender seeds and all)

Saute onion in butter.  Add in 3-4 cups of the tomato juice.  Now add flour, salt, sugar and pepper with a whisk to get all the lumps out.  Stir until smooth and bubbly stirring constantly.  Add the rest of the juice and bring to a boil.  Fill hot jars with soup and water bath can for 30 minutes.  To serve add milk or water and heat like you do with Campbell's condensed soup.

The parts I added are underlined.  Last year I had trouble with lumps.  It still tasted good but not as appealing.  I got 7 large quart jars (exactly one canning load!)  Plus one small bowl left over for lunch for Logan.  Original recipe says you get 9 quarts, but I only got 7.

pickles (30+) with tomato's in background
For the pickles we did today, see my blog from last year for the links.  We finally perfected the recipes last year and the pickles were amazing!  Didn't change a thing this year except we began with dill and garlic from our garden but ran out and had to get some store bought.

Lexie did an amazing job helping me.  She really did all the stuffing of the jars, cutting and measuring in the spices.  She kept me busy making more brine (she did the first one) and searching for more jars.  We ran out of wide mouth and went to some quarts as well.  I'm sure they won't mind having "more" pickles in the bigger jar!

She even lifted out a couple loads as I went to the store for more dill!  Next year I think she'll be able to do this herself!  I should have taken a picture of her working but I was too busy trying to keep up with her!

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