Thursday, August 11, 2011

T is for Tomatoes, Particularly Canned Diced Tomatoes with Garlic, Oregano and Basil

Since this blog is about food preservation and we are well into tomato season, I thought it would be a good time to look at what kind of tomatoes are good for canning. The answer to that depends on what exactly you are canning. In truth, you can use most any kind of tomato. In some cases, you will just have to work harder and may need more tomatoes, depending on what kind you use.
Canning Tomatoes
A number of brands are grown or sold under the auspicious name of “canning tomatoes.” But what makes a good canning tomato? The answer is different for different people but there are a few traits we can all agree on.
Taste is the key element. As you are going to eating these tomatoes in whatever you are canning for the next year, you better enjoy the flavor. This is subjective and will vary from person to person.
Meaty tomatoes are good for canning everything from whole or diced tomatoes and salsa to making sauces. Tomatoes are filled with a lot of water or juice as well as seeds. The seeds are not usually a problem to eat for most people but they can detract from the appearance of the finished product so most folks remove them. The juice and seeds inside a tomato increase its size and weight but for most preservation recipes are discarded. Meaty tomatoes end up provide more substance for your recipes.
For example, if your tomato sauce recipe calls for 20 lbs. of tomatoes and suggests a finished quantity of 7 pints, you may be disappointed with a juicer tomato. Your end quantity may be only 5 or 6 pints because of the loss of volume due to the seeds and juice. Meaty tomatoes like Rutgers, San Marzano, Roma and other Italian tomatoes are good choices.
High acid tomatoes are recommended by many websites for canning. This is because the acid in certain tomatoes is higher and does a better job of preventing bacteria growth. Many recipes will recommend that you add lemon juice or citric acid to your tomato canning recipes to ensure you are getting enough acid in the mix. Many people skip this step because they don’t want those flavors influencing the finished product. Personally I have done it both ways, with and without adding additional acid. I have not noticed a considerable difference in taste when added and I’ve never had a batch of canned tomato products go bad when I didn’t add it. You will have to make this determination for yourself.
Today’s recipe is for Diced Tomatoes with garlic oregano and basil. This combination has recently turned up at my grocery store and I simply love it. I wanted to make my own and experimented with getting the blend just right. Here is what I came up with:
Diced tomatoes are on the left, salsa on the right. Copyright Theresa Leschmann
Diced Tomatoes with Garlic, Oregano and Basil
12 cups cored peeled tomatoes
4tsp. basil
2 tsp. thyme
2 1/2 tsp. oregano
1 1/2 tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. garlic powder
Bottled lemon juice
Scald tomatoes to remove skins. Cut tomatoes into whatever size you like for diced tomatoes. Mine tend to be between ¼ inch and ½ inch chunks. Remove as much of the juice and seeds as possible. Place the diced tomatoes in a large saucepan, preferably stainless steel and add enough water to cover the tomatoes.  Bring them to a boil over medium heat. Stir gently throughout next five minutes.
Diced tomatoes in the pot. Copyright Theresa Leschmann
In a separate bowl, combine all the spices and set aside.
In hot, sterilized pint-sized jars, add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Add 4 tsp. of the spice blend to each jar.  
Italian spice blend. Copyright Theresa Leschmann

Spoon hot tomatoes into jar, packing firmly. Fill jar with the hot liquid the tomatoes were boiled in, leaving ½ inch of head space at the top. Use a knife to slide around the inside of the jar to dislodge any air pockets. Cent the lids on top and screw down the rings until just finger tight. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 40 minutes. Remove the canner lid and let the pot sit for five minutes before removing jars. Cool and label.  


SJerZGirl said...

Hi Theresa! I would love to can some tomatoes this year since we use them a lot. What recipes would you use these diced tomatoes for? Mainly pasta sauces?

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