Monthly Archives: August 2011

A quick note first: I’m moving this blog from the old software (which appears to be not working anymore) and server onto It’s taking some time (4 years of blogging would) but I’ll get through it.

For now, though, I’d like to post about tomato canning. I’ve done it twice before (2010 and 2008) and a bushel of plum tomatoes has lasted us until February. I thought people might be curious as to how it’s done. And, frankly, I seem to have forgotten how to do it this year (must be all that cancer business) so I decided that I need to write it down so I’m ready next year. So this is as much for me as for you.

A note on canning tomatoes to give credit where credit is due: everything I learned about it, I learned on and some of the text below is cut and pasted from that fantastic web site!

So, I bought a bushel of tomatoes, but I don’t do the whole bushel in one day. Last year it took me 3 days, I think. This year it will likely take longer as my day is split up with radiation treatment in the early afternoon so my batches are smaller.

To begin, I gathered my plum tomatoes (I bought a bushel yesterday – new this year there’s the awesome Lesliville Farmers’ Market in my neighbourhood we can walk to! I believe they were from Highmark Farms), mason jars, lids, very large pot(s), a small and a medium pot, canning funnel, and an empty compost bucket.

bushel of tomatoes

Bushel of fresh local plum tomatoes from the farmers' market!

Boil a medium pot of water and fill a large bowl with cold (with some ice if you like) water. Use these for peeling. Cut one shallow split on the bottom of each tomato. Put in pot of boiling water for 1 minute or two until the skin splits up the side, then put into bath of cold water. Peel (peels can go in compost). I do these in small batches of about 12-14 tomatoes per batch since that’s as much as I can keep up with when watching to see which tomato has split.

Cut small slit in tomato

Cut a small slit in bottom of tomato before putting it in boiling water (this step isn't totally necessary but there are always a few that don't want to split on their own and need a little help).

boil to split tomato skins

Boil tomatoes briefly in small batches to split tomato skins

cool tomatoes after boiling

Cool the tomatoes in a cold water bath after the skin has split to stop them from cooking and make them cool enough to handle.

Boil a couple of large pots for sterilizing the clean jars. Sterilize (boil) for 10 minutes. Heat a small pan of water for the new lids but do not boil. Sterilize the canning funnel and a ladle as well.

Cut the tomatoes in quarters, and cook: Heat a bunch of the quarters quickly in a large pot. As they are added, crush cut pieces using a large wooden spoon. This will draw off some juice. Continue heating the tomatoes, stirring to prevent burning. Bring to a boil and gradually add the remaining quarters while stirring continually. These will soften with stirring and heating and will not need to be crushed. Continue until all tomatoes are added. Then boil gently 5 minutes.

Stewing quarters

Stewing tomato quarters

Add lemon (and salt if desired) to jars, then, using the canning funnel, spoon the stewed quarters into the sterilized jars. Fill only to the line about 1 cm from the top. (For quarts, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon citric acid. For pints, 1 tbsp lemon juice. For quarts, 1/2 teaspoon salt, if desired.)

Tomatoes in the jar

Stewed quarter tomatoes in the jar, filled to the ridge below the screw threads.

Fill large stock pot about 2/3 full (maybe less) and bring to a boil. You need 1 to 2 inches of water above the tops of jars. Put the kettle on just in case you need more and have a clean pot and a ladle handy just in case you need to remove some water as you add the jars.

Place jars on rack (if you have one, I don’t) immediately after packing. Lower filled rack into canner. Cover jars by 1 to 2 inches (3 to 5 cm) of water. If you add more water, pour between jars and not directly on them. Cover pot with lid. When the water comes to a rolling boil, start to count the processing time. Reduce heat slightly and boil pints gently for 25 minutes and quarts for 35 minutes (for stewed tomatoes).

When the cooking time is up, remove jars immediately and place on a cooling rack away from heat and away from any draft. Keep jars separated to allow for air flow.

canned tomatoes

The finished product: canned tomatoes, cooling on a rack.


It’s been 9 months since I last wrote. The first 3 months are mainly because I can’t seem to come up with new ideas, or I just don’t count new stuff I add to my everyday life. The past 6 months are different.

In February I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’ve since been through 8 rounds of chemotherapy, surgery, and I’ve just started 5 weeks of radiation. So, as you can imagine, I’ve had other things on my mind.

Even though this “Green me up” project started as a live green and lightly on the land thing, it has become a be a better person thing.

Recently a friend of friends started a project of his own. He is going to ride a tandem bike from Toronto to New York City (via Boston) with his son. It’s not a charity ride but they’re taking pledges of kindness. They’re hoping to get 500 pledges so it’s called 500 Kindnesses. It got me thinking that I’ve probably had that amount of kindnesses bestowed upon me in the past 6 months. During this cancer journey my family, friends, neighbours, hospital staff, volunteers, and acquaintances have been amazingly kind and generous to me and to my family. To read about the 500 kindnesses to me, check out the cancer blog.