Put ‘em Up! – A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook from Drying and Freezing to Canning and Pickling by Sherri Brooks Vinton. I have been vocal about my favorite Blue Book of Canning. It’s the standard by which I judge canning books. Sherri’s book – Put ‘em Up gets my seal of approval. The explanations are good, and the illustrations are clear enough for anyone to follow. The first part of the book starts with equipment and then follows with different ways to put food up – different food preparations and preservations. Sherri discusses blanching, jams and jellies, pickling, salsas, chutneys, relishes, butters, sauces and ketchups as well as freezing, infusing, drying, fruit leathers and steam canning. She has a quick, but necessary little section on botulism and identifying what is bad from what looks bad but isn’t.
If I were to suggest a start to putting something up, I always say start with applesauce. It’s a pretty good no fail, low cost canning project, though, if you have a food mill or strainer like I have it will go faster. My first canning project was applesauce and I’ve never looked back since then. I didn’t have a mother that canned, so I learned by reading canning books, if I can do it, so can you.
Sherri starts with apples and goes alphabetically through to watermelon with different recipes for each fruit/vegetable. For apples alone she has dried apple rings, apple preserves, homemade applesauce, appled brandy, spiced apple chutney, mincemeat, apple jelly, and apple butter (one of my mom’s favorites.) Skip forward to watermelon and you’ve got watermelon granita, watermelon liqueur, pickled watermelon rind, heirloom watermelon jelly and watermelon aqua fresca (think watermelon limeade). 175 recipes in all, some I’ve never heard of before, but I definitely want to try. There are even recipes for tomatillos; can ‘em if you’ve got ‘em. The back of the book has an index by ingredient as well as a resource section that seems really useful. My grade is an A.
About Sherri Brooks Vinton – Sherri Brooks Vinton in the founder of Farm Friendly LLC, which helps eaters, restaurateurs, and organizations support local agriculture.She is a former governor of Slow Food USA, and a member of the Chef’s Collaborative, Women’s Chefs and Restaurateurs, Northeast Organic Farmers Association, and the International Association of Culinary Professionals. She is the author of The Real Food Revival and lives in Easton, Connecticut. Her Website is sherribrooksvinton.com.
We went to a Harvest Market this weekend and bought some tomatoes, then at another Farm Market found a box of canners. Canners are tomatoes that may have little spots and bruises and may not be first quality, but are fine for canning and usually are sold for a lot less than first quality tomatoes or vegetables. To us, this was a real find, because we canned whole tomatoes to be used over the winter. Money savings, food wasn’t wasted, because we bought it, and achievement because we did it ourselves – those are a few of the reasons we can. We also put up some more salsa. My daughter has let us know that she’s going to raid the pantry this weekend when she visits, and that’s another reason we do it. Here are the directions for Canned Whole Tomatoes from Sherri’s book Put ‘em Up! I’ve canned whole tomatoes before and found her instructions to be very clear and easy to follow and it’s on the recommended list.
Canned Whole Tomatoes
For each quart of canned whole tomatoes:
- 3 pounds of plum tomatoes (such as Amish paste or Juliet)
- 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice or 1/2 tsp citric acid
- 1 teaspoon salt (optional) * I left the salt out
- Fill a clean cooler halfway with heavily iced water and bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water no more than 6 tomatoes at a time, and return to a boil. Blanch until the skins begin to loosen, 30 to sixty seconds.
- Scoop the tomatoes out of the water with a spider or slotted spoon and plunge them into the ice water. Continue blanching the tomatoes in batches. Remove from the ice bath and drain. Core the tomatoes , and peel away the skins with a small paring knife.
- Put the lemon juice or citric acid and the salt, if using into clean hot quart jars. Pack the tomatoes into the jars one at a time pressing firmly enough to compress the hollow core and release enough juice to cover the tomato but not so hard that the fruit is crushed. Continue packing tomatoes in this manner, being careful to press out any air pockets. Tomatoes should be covered by 1/2 in with their liquid. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace between the top of the liquid and the lid. Top with a little boiling water, if necessary, to achieve the proper headspace.
Can – Use the boiling water bath method. Release trapped air. Wipe the rims clean; center lids on the jars and screw on jar bands. Process for 85 minutes. Turn off heat, remove canner lid, and let jars rest in water for 5 minutes. Remove jars and set aside for 24 hours. Check seals, then store on cool dark place for up to 1 year.
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