Growing up an Italian-American in Waterbury, I have fond memories of my mom canning tomatoes in late summer. It always seemed to be a hot day when she canned and her boiling water bath just added to the stickiness in the air. But those tasty canned tomatoes made for great sauce all winter.
Mom is done canning, but I still like to do it. While I also freeze whole tomatoes for cooking, there's something about having canned tomatoes for making our sauces. So, if you have extra tomats or pick some at a local farm, consider canning them.
First, get clean pint or quart jars that are made for canning in a hot water bath with new lids and tops. I cut out blemished areas -- sometimes skinning the fruits -- slice them, and pack them in the jars pressing them down with a spoon.
I add pickling salt, bottled lemon juice and a few basil leaves for flavor. I boil them in a hot water bath for 40 minutes and let them cool. The sound of the tops popping from suction and concave lids are a sign of a good seal.
I have seen on the internet people oven-canning tomatoes. I don't recommend it. First, the canning jars aren't made for the dry heat of an oven and can shatter. Also, dry heat doesn't penetrate like wet heat in a boiling water bath and some parts of the jar may not heat up above boiling to kill botulism.
Check with the Connecticut Cooperative Extension for canning instructions to enjoy those tomatoes into winter.
Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about gourds. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.