My sister Sarah has been canning our friend Dale’s tomatoes since he has been at Burning Man. I captured the process in these photos:
Tomatoes are usually acidic enough to can using just a hot water bath but to be extra careful test your sauce’s acidity or add a little citric acid or lemon juice to the top of each jar. Always use vine ripened tomatoes to ensure the best amount of acidity. Sarah said “I was afraid of the pressure canner since I had never used one before and decided just to go with the hot water bath and a little lemon juice.”
Canning Debate and A Green Tomato Recipe!!
Pressure Canning vs. Boiling Water Bath for Tomatoes
Traditionally people have been able to use a boiling water bath to can their tomatoes with no adverse health affects. The Boiling Water Bath method (or BWB) is used for food items with a high sugar or acid content, which is why people most commonly can fruit preserves or pickles. Tomatoes are on the borderline of having enough acid in them to process using the BWB. My mother and grandmother have both used this method for many years with no problem and always have beautiful canned tomatoes and sauces. If you are really worried canning using a pressure canner can take away any risk as pressure canners allow you to can low acid food. Most canning books give instructions on how to use a pressure canner. If you still want to try the BWB you can always add a little lemon juice or citric acid to each jar of tomatoes to raise the acidity and this is sufficient to get rid of any risk as well. To ensure the best acid content always use vine ripened tomatoes.
Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Pickled Green Tomatoes (as heard on NPR Morning Edition 9/2)
Adapted from David Lebovitz, Michael Ruhlman and Michael Symon’s pickle recipes
Makes four pints or two quarts of pickles
2 qt cherry tomatoes or about 6-8 full size tomatoes – firm and very green
2.5 c water
2.5 c white vinegar
3 T kosher salt
3 T sugar
4 garlic cloves, peeled
4 T coriander seed
4 T yellow mustard seed
4 T black peppercorns
4 bay leaves
4 small red chiles, optional
Bring water, vinegar, sugar, salt, and garlic clove to boil in a non-reactive saucepan. Boil 5 minutes.
Poke a hole with a toothpick, knife blade or skewer in each of the cherry tomatoes.
Quarter the whole tomatoes.
Pack into sterilized jars.
Add 1 T each of the seeds, 1 bay leaf and one chile to each pint jar. Double the quantities if you are using quarts.
Pour the hot brine over the tomatoes. Cover and allow to cool.
Refrigerate for a week before sampling.