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Stocking the Pantry with Tomato Soup

September 16th, 2010

I’ve blogged about my home canned tomato soup many times. It’s one of my most popular posts, people are always writing asking the recipe and telling me how much they love the soup. It’s one of the few things I can every year without fail. The first year I canned only 30 pints of it and it was gone way too soon. Last year I did 31 quarts and 7 pints and we only have 2 quarts left.

Yesterday I made the first batch of soup this season, most of the remaining tomatoes will be used for soup since I already have 44 pints and 8 quarts of crushed tomatoes. I’m hoping to get at least 35-40 quarts of soup again this year since it makes a perfect quick meal that’s healthy and delicious. It’s also great added to chili and vegetable soup.

I use an old Squeezo to make my soup, this one was handed down to me by my mom. It’s the one we used for applesauce & tomatoes growing up. It’s a relic but still works great, and I love that it doesn’t have any plastic parts. I love pulling it out, I even use the same block of wood on the counter that we used growing up.

I only made one batch of soup yesterday, I’m hoping to make another tomorrow or Sunday. I prefer making double batches so I don’t have to spend as much time canning, but I only had enough tomatoes for one batch. In case you’re interested in the recipe, here it is again. Yesterday I changed it slightly by using whey instead of lemon juice (didn’t have lemon juice but had plenty of whey in the fridge). I also added a few sprigs of fresh Italian parsley since I had some in the garden.

6 onions, chopped
1 bunch celery, chopped
8 quarts fresh tomatoes (or 5-6 quarts of juice) *I coarsely chop mine in quarters leaving the stems on them since I’m putting them through a food mill. (10-12 lbs of tomatoes)
1 cup sugar (I find this is too much and I use less usually 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup salt (I usually add 2 T and then taste before I add more)
1 cup butter
1 cup flour*
1/4 cup lemon juice

1. Chop onion& celery. Place in large kettle w/ just enough water to keep them from burning. While this simmers, cut tomatoes (remove stems if not using strainer).
2. Add tomatoes to kettle & cook until tender.
3. When tender put through Victorio or Squeezo (or similar food mill) strainer. (reserve 2 cups for mixing with butter/flour)
4. Return to kettle, add lemon juice, sugar & salt.
5. Cream butter and flour together& mix thoroughly with two cups of reserved juice (chill so it’s cold), until dissolved (or blend together in a blender), to avoid lumps of flour in the juice. Add butter/flour mixture to warmed tomato juice. (Add before it’s hot, to avoid lumps of flour!). Stir well.
6. Heat just until hot. (If it gets to a boil, it can make the flour lumpy). Just prior to boiling, turn off the burner. (It will continue to thicken as it cools.).
7. Ladle into hot jars with 1/4 headspace, close securely with lids.
8. Put in canner & process 30 minutes (start timing when it’s at a ‘rolling’ boil).**
9. Remove from canner & allow to set until sealed (approx. 12 hours) To serve, mix equal parts tomato concentrate to milk, and add 1/2 t. of baking soda per pint as it cooks (1 t. per quart). I actually prefer to add chicken stock to mine instead of milk & baking soda. I serve with a sprinkle of freshly grated romano cheese, a sprinkle of cayenne and a little freshly ground black pepper.

*feel free to omit flour if you don’t want it in your soup, the soup will be a little thinner.

**Some people say this isn’t long enough in a canner, some people say you should only pressure can this recipe. I’m happy with it and am quite comfortable making it and processing it in this way. If you’re uncomfortable with this method use whatever canning method you’re comfortable with.

This is one of our favorite quick meals throughout the year, each quart gives us two meals. I usually make mine with half chicken stock and half whey and we enjoy it with some crusty bread. My pantry will never be without some home canned tomato soup.

What item is your pantry never be without?

Squirreling Away for Winter

September 3rd, 2010

I had great plans of writing a post about making zucchini bread including my recipe, but I was up late filling the pantry with all kinds of goodies for winter. I feel like it’s a better use of energy when I can a bunch of things in one evening. Then I only have to fire up the canner every so often. I’m not canning as much this year since I’m trying to focus more on growing throughout the winter and I grew a lot potatoes, sweet potatoes, and squash that don’t need preserved.

I ended up with: 28 pints of crushed tomatoes, 5 quarts of sauerkraut, 5 pints of bread & butter pickles, and 3 pints of fire roasted red peppers. I also started a batch of watermelon rind pickles, we’ll see how those turn out. I think all I have left to can is some tomato soup, ketchup, and perhaps a batch of green tomato pickles.

What’s your favorite home canned item?

Putting up Tomatoes for Winter Sauces

August 18th, 2010

My tomatoes are finally starting to ripen up en masse as are the ones in my mom’s garden. I’ve been picking big bucketfuls of all colors shapes and sizes. When I see these sitting in the kitchen, I know exactly why I grow a variety of heirlooms, how beautiful!

On Sunday evening I worked well into the night canning up some tomatoes for enjoying this winter. I’m trying to focus more on eating seasonally and growing foods that don’t need to be preserved by canning, but tomatoes are an exception. I’ll always can tomatoes for making sauces and soups. I also dry a lot of tomatoes, but sometimes a rich hearty meat sauce is the perfect dinner, and I need canned tomatoes for that.

I can all of my tomatoes as crushed tomatoes, and I never remove the seeds. Some people say the seeds can make your tomatoes bitter, but I’ve never noticed that it does. I’ve read so many different directions for canning crushed tomatoes, some of them say to process them for an hour and half in a water bath canner. I follow the directions from this great brochure from the University of Georgia – Tomato Canning. I also use the directions from Well-Preserved.

What do I do? I simply peel the tomatoes and cut them up, add them to a large pan, heat them to boiling and continue to cook them for 5 minutes. Then I fill hot jars allowing a 1/2 to 3/4 inch head space (I find that with tomatoes you want your head space to be slightly more, never less than 1/2 inch). I add a basil leaf to each jar and add the lid and ring. Then I process in a water bath canner for 35 minutes for pints, 45 min for quarts. When processing time is finished, leave jars in canner with heat turned off for 5 minutes, then remove. I find that this step helps with sealing on tomatoes, they have a tendency to expand when you take them out the canner and kind of boil up.

Do you grow enough tomatoes to can? What’s your favorite way to preserve them for the winter?

The First Canning of the Year

June 22nd, 2010

Yesterday morning I pulled out the canning jars and starting stocking my pantry for this coming winter. I canned half of my maraschino cherries, today I’ll be canning the rest. It’s a great feeling to start stocking the pantry again for winter. I like the comfort of seeing all the jars lined up on the shelves in the basement, things were looking a bit sparse down there.

I followed this recipe for half the cherries and this recipe for the other half. I also made one quart with sour cherries instead of sweet cherries. I thought it was interesting that the cherries were brined with salt water for a day before canning, much like many of the pickles I make.

I ended up making 4 gallons of maraschino cherries because I ran out of time to pit and dry all those cherries I picked last week. I can’t wait to try these dipped in chocolate or perhaps mixed in with some ice cream. Most of the cherries were dried and tucked away in the pantry as well. I didn’t freeze any since I want to keep the freezer space free for other things like black raspberries and peas.

Have you started stocking the pantry for this coming winter? Anything canned up in jars?

Enjoying all my Hard Work

January 27th, 2010

When I read this quote in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine a while back I loved it. It’s so true that home canned tomatoes are like opening up a jar of summer. Yesterday I cracked open 6 pints of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes to make some sauce. All these wonderful tomatoey meals in the winter make all the hard work growing and canning tomatoes worth it!

I think if I could only preserve one thing from the garden to eat in the winter I’d choose tomatoes.

What would you choose?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.