As you may have remembered, I got crazy and purchased a basic water canning set with the intent to make some blackberry jam that did not need to be frozen. I was so worried when I ordered it that it would come too late and I’d be stuck with tons of blackberries on hand, or would just end up making freezer jam again (not the worst thing, but I wanted a product with a longer shelf-life). But the canner got here just in time; the blackberries, however, did not. And have not.
As summer has gone on and on, I have been continually perplexed as to why this time last year I had produced a good 16 half-pints of jam, while this year we’ve had yet to have enough berries ready at one time to make even a half-batch of jam (4 half-pints). We did a little research and found that even the U-Pick berry farms were having a rough year and didn’t have berries available this year; even the Farmer’s Market had very little berries to sell.
So I thought I’d try my hand at making homemade tomato sauce. I looked in my Ball Blue Book and they had a recipe for “Seasoned Tomato Sauce” and it required 45 lbs of tomatoes. WHAT? I bought 15 lbs and adjusted as needed. After cutting up about 11 or 12 lbs I realized I did not have enough space in my pots to accommodate the remaining 3-4 lbs of tomatoes, so I adjusted again. Good thing I like a lot of onion and garlic in my tomato sauce since those were already chopped and busy sauteeing. I think next time I will blanch and peel the tomatoes prior to cutting and cooking since peeling them via the food mill slowed things down quite a bit. But, after going through it all and waiting nearly 4-1/2 hours for it to cook down, it passed Justin’s taste-test, so I think it will be alright.
The canning itself wasn’t all that bad and I’m planning on using the rest of the tomatoes to make salsa. Hope I do it right since I don’t care for any of the recipes in the Ball Blue Book…just need to make sure it’s acidic enough so that I don’t make big botulism bombs.