It's no secret that more people are turning the turf in backyards and garden plots to save on food bills at the grocery store. Last year almost half the households in the United States grew at least some of their own food.
A minor byproduct of this home gardening boom is often a problem -- too many vegetables and all at once. Tomatoes are especially plentiful during this season. Even if you only have a few plants, you can be amazed at the tremendous harvest.
If you're faced with loads of them, try putting some up, either mixed with other plentiful foods in relishes and chutneys or in the basic tomato recipes that will stand by you in winter days to come, such as puree and tomato paste.
A word of advice: Don't experiment with shortened processing times and makeshift supplies and equipment. Here are some ideas that will help toward perfect results.
For delicious canned tomatoes, juice, or sauce, pick the most nearly perfect tomatoes you can find. Avoid using overripe ones or those with soft spots, decay, or mold.
Use the boiling water bath method of home canning for tomatoes and other acid fruits or vegetables. Use the home canning guide available from your county extension office, in the Ball canning books, or from other reliable sources. Tomato Apple Chutney 2 1/2 quarts peeled, cored, chopped, ripe tomatoes (about 15 large) 1 quart chopped, peeled, cored apples (4 to 6) 2 cups chopped cucumber (about 1 large) 1 1/2 cups chopped onions 1 cup seedless raisins 3 cups brown sugar, packed 3 cups vinegar 1 hot red pepper 1 clove garlic, crushed 1 tablespoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 1/2 chopped sweet red peppers (about 3 medium)
Combine all ingredients and cook slowly until thick, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking. Pour it boiling hot into Ball canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust caps. Process 10 minutes. Yield: about 3 pints. Tomato Paste 8 quarts peeled, cored, chopped tomatoes (about 4 dozen large) 1 1/2 cups chopped sweet red peppers (about 3) 2 bay leaves 1 tablespoon salt 1 clove garlic (optional)
Combine first four ingredients and cook slowly 1 hour. Press through a fine sieve and add garlic if desired. Continue cooking slowly until thick enough to round up on a spoon, about 2 1/2 hours.
Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Remove garlic. Pour hot into canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust caps.Process half-pints 45 minutes in boiling water bath. Yield: about 9 half-pints. Tomato Puree
Wash, scald, peel, and core tomatoes. Cook until soft. Pass through a sieve. Cook until thick; stir to prevent sticking. If desired add 1 teaspoon each salt and sugar to each quart. Pour hot into hot canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust caps. Process half-pints and pints 30 minutes in boiling water bath. Tomato Puree, Seasoned 4 quarts peeled, cored, chopped tomatoes (about 2 dozen large)
3 cups chopped onions 2 cups sliced carrots (about 4 medium) 2 cups chopped celery 1 1/2 cups chopped green peppers (about 3 medium) 1 tablespoon salt
Combine all ingredients, cook until tender. Press through a fine sieve. Cook pulp until thick, about 1 1/2 hours. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Pour hot into hot canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.Adjust caps. Process half-pints and 45 minutes in boiling water bath. Yield: about 9 half-pints. Tomatoes With Okra
Use equal measure of sliced okra and peeled, cored, chopped tomatoes. Cook tomatoes 20 minutes. Add okra. Boil 5 minutes. Pour hot into hot canning jars , leaving 1 inch headspace. Add 1 teaspoon salt to each quart. Adjust caps. Process pints 30 minutes, quarts 35 minutes, at 11 pounds' pressure.
Note: 1 small onion may be chopped and added to each quart of tomatoes before cooking.