Canning Tomatoes and Making Pickles

My friend Eva told me that she has a vegetable guy who comes to her home on Fridays. Early afternoon and that he has the most wonderful small tomatoes. So she invited me over to sit and wait with her until he arrived. I purchased a bag full of these little buties and another bag of cucumbers. Guess what I am doing??

Well I was going to can tomatoes but after reading my Joy of Cooking cookbook on canning and doing more research on the internet it looks like I need to use a pressure canning process for tomatoes and because I do not have a big enough pressure pot or want  to blow up my pressure pot while attempting this for the first time all we will be doing is canning Fresh Garlic/Dill Pickle Spears today.

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First you need to get all your ingredients together. Sterilized canning jars and lids, cleaned cucumbers, Heinz vinegar, spices and herbs (mustard seed, celery seed, salt and fresh garlic and fresh dill).

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Cut the cucumbers length wise to the length that will fit in the jars, cutting away any seeds, place the cucumber spears into the jars alternating between the skin side showing on the outside and the flesh side showing, it just looks so much nicer when giving a jar as a gift. After all jars are filled to capacity, you really need to squeeze them in tight. Add your spices to the top of the jar and slivers of fresh garlic around the inside of the jar.  I use pickling seasonings like mustard seeds, celery seeds and fresh dill. Heat your vinegar and salt to a boil and pour the hot mixture to fill the jars. Wipe the edge of the jar with a clean towel and tighten the lid. The pickles are fresh and need to be refrigerated for a few days before use. The quantity of the spices and herbs is totally up to your taste and the amount of vinegar depends upon how many jars of pickles you are preparing.  Canning like this is not an exact science you will need to experiment to find what taste best to you. I always use Heinz vinegar because it is stronger than what you can buy locally.

19 thoughts on “Canning Tomatoes and Making Pickles

    • Hi Deb, I had someone bring me the dill seeds to plant fresh dill and most of the seeds sprouted and I have three very nice plants. I also had to have someone bring me the pickling spices as we cannot find them here either. Now I have several jars of spices and even Sure Jel when I go to make jelly…I am blessed. And they are excellent…only problem is having room in the refrigerator for all the jars….ha ha Well I don’t really see that as a problem…Nancy PS Enjoy your trip back to the states…are you taking your fancy vest???

        • Deb, just can’t get everything I would like here so I do use anyone coming here to bring even a single packages of mustard seeds…you are glad you made that vest aren’t you….happy traveling, N & J

    • Hi JanisP, In my research especially Joy of Cooking it states “because it is difficult to judge the acidity of the many new tomato hybrids, they recommend pressure canning ONLY”…this is my bible when it comes to food…I will check out the site you gave me…remember my other major issue…I do not have proper canning jars, lids and rings…we cannot get those supplies here so I am RE-using jars from things like pickles, Ragu sauce etc. I did not want to take the chance that something would go wrong in the other method and I kill myself or others because of my canning. Thanks for the info….do you live here in EC? Nancy

      • Oh I didn’t know that about the new hybrids, thanks! I would be afraid of those jars breaking in the hot water too….or not sealing correctly. I live near Salinas.

        • Hi JanisP, I have no idea what tomatoes are planted here, they all look so different to me. I do the water bath with my jars and have had great success…not having great success with jams…I did have someone bring me a box of paraffin, next batch I make I am going to seal the jars with the hot wax and see how that works…again not something that I can buy here and it is bulky for someone to bring in for me…plus it is solid and pretty heavy…I would hope that EC would catch up like Panama did while we were there, we would wait for a few months and then it would be on the supermarket shelves, not here…actually if you find something and it sells out our experience has been not to see it again ha ha Loved shopping in Liberad and Super Maxi seemed to have a great manager who was on the ball, he saw who spent the money and packed his shelves with great stuff. Hope it is the same way now. Thanks again, be well, Nancy

  1. They look good and if they taste as good as the ones we ate from your house. YUMMY in the tummy.. Make some salsa with the tomatoes…that’s what my godmother does and she freezes it the small containers. Have fun canning.

    • Hi Susan, thanks it is the same recipe I used for the ones you have…I make a fresh tomato sauce (no cooking) and freeze it in ziplock baggies flatten out in the freezer…but a small freezer can’t take too many of those baggies…ha ha I need a small chest freezer…and then a small generator for when the power goes out for long periods…Nancy

  2. It’s been years since I canned anything, but I remember canning TONS of tomatoes using the water bath method. If I recall correctly, I did have to add some lemon juice to be sure the canned tomatoes were acidic enough to prevent spoilage, but I never had a problem. Of course, times have changed so recommendations may be different these day.

    I tried dill pickles, too (can’t remember the method), but they came out a little mushy so I never tried them again. Your refrigerator pickles sound and look yummy!

    • Hi Sharon, I guess the next time I get a bunch of very nice tomatoes I will try adding the lemon juice and see what happens. Thanks so much for your comments. The dill pickles are easy and did not get mushy..Nancy

    • Hi Sharon, I guess the next time I get a bunch of very nice tomato’s I will try adding the lemon juice and see what happens. Thanks so much for your comments. The dill pickles are easy and did not get mushy..Nancy

    • Hi Sharon, I guess the next time I get a bunch of very nice tomato’s I will try adding the lemon juice and see what happens. Thanks so much for your comments. The dill pickles are easy and did not get mushy..Nancy

    • John and Mary, Yes, Susan was kind enough to bring me a container of pickling spices as well as separate baggies of mustard seeds and celery seeds….I also received a package of already to use seasoning from someone but I do not like the taste…Nancy

  3. Pingback: Cucumbers | Watch My Garden Growing

  4. RE: tomato canning

    Vinegar (Apple cider taste best) or any citrus acid will work for canning tomatoes (and other low acid foods for that mater). I “seem” to remember my grandmother adding vinegar and then doing a water bath canning on green beans… Not positive though–it has been a long time and I was young at the time. Most of what they canned was used up in less than a year.

    My experience in canning has been that it is not a multi year storage method. Taste, and texture goes down and spoilage rates go up. ESPECIALLY if you do not have a dark, cool cellar to store them in.

    Storage temperature makes a HUGE difference in ANY food storage method. According to the US Army’s research, vacuum packed, dried grains stored at 60 degrees F keep 80% of their nutrition for 12 to 20 years. If they are stored at 90 degrees F they only keep their nutritional value for a year or two depending on the grain. The calories are there, so they keep you from starving–but you would have to take vitamins…

    She did use a pressure cooker to can meat, but did not cook it near as long as they do today. She had some spoilage but… the meat tasted much better than what I have made, using current suggested cooking times. She did have three rules. If it smelled bad, throw the meat away. Never eat the meat out of the jar. Always re-cook the meat. She put the meat in stews and oven dishes dishes that cooked for thirty minutes or more.

    Taste one of the tomatoes. If they taste acid, then they are… The tomatoes grown in the tropics are hybrids because regular tomatoes won’t grow there due to the short sunlight cycle, compared to the summer in the North. Only the taste test or litmus paper will tell you if they are acidic enough.

    I first learned canning from my grandmother in the early 50s. One thing she hammered in, was that if the seal was weak (sealed, but the lid came off too easy) AND the food looked funny compared to the other jars–or different from what you saw in the past OR it smelled funny–in any way–you had two choices. DON’T EAT IT, or boil it for 30 minutes before eating.

    She had lived off of canned food most of her life, and survived–so I assume she knew what she was talking about.

    Canning without using canning jars with new rings and lids, is very difficult and has a high spoilage rate. The water bath method, using rings AND lids, insures that NO bacteria gets sucked back into the jar, during the cooling cycle. When reusing lids OR rings there is a good chance that bacteria and other things might get back into the jar. The rings have a very special purpose and are designed for one time use only. You can reused them–but your failure rate goes up.

    When my mother made jam every year–we did not use rings. She cooked the jam, poured the hot jam into HOT jars (steamed) and then poured melted paraffin the top. Occasionally the wax would crack or shrink from the edges and a slight amount of white mold would appear. When this happened we pried out the wax and scraped off and threw away the mold and ate the rest…. There was a huge amount of wild plums and grapes where I grew up…

    I have never heard of this method being used with anything other than extremely high sugar content food, but it might work for short periods if the food was very acidic. BTW you can save and reuse the wax. Float the used wax on water then boil it. The heavier stuff will fall out of the wax, and the soluble stuff will go into the water. Let it cool and harden and then store it.


    • Hi Keith,
      You are just filled with so much information I want to squeeze every last drop of it out of you to share with all my readers. Thanks so much for the info on using vinegar for canning my tomatoes. I will try it and let you know. So far I have made jelly, jam, marmalade, two types of hot peppers, bread and butter and dill pickles, grainy mustard and sauerkraut…I have had one jar of kraut that looked a bit off so both it and the jar were send to the garbage, I did not even bother to open it, because it just look ODD. I do make fresh dill garlic spears that I just refrigerate and they have been a huge success. But I sure would love to have about 5 boxes of pint jars and 20 boxes of lids and seals..using used jars is working but here so much is packed in bags instead of jars that I have to look for jars of items to purchase (that we like to eat) and then purchase that for me to do my canning with. Also, I have all my friends saving jars so some days I find bags of jars hanging from our gate, how great is that???

      Again, I really appreciate all the info. Get back to me on being able to post your suggestion for our back wall to the blog, I would love to share with the folks on the blog so I could get more suggestions for the fabric that would work in this climate…

      thanks, Nancy & Joe

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