PRESERVING THE HARVEST – BOTTLING TOMATOES

Well it’s that time of the year in Australia, time to gather in the harvest and deal with it so that it lasts for the rest of the year.

Once again our tomatoes are only just starting to turn red, it is almost too late for them but hopefully they will continue.  We are blessed to be able to purchase bulk tomatoes from our local farm produce store in town so each year our tomatoes don’t fruit enough I purchase a couple of boxes from them.

Where we live can be so tricky weather wise and it isn’t always beneficial to growing certain vegetables.  Our corn looks great but I will leave that for another day.

I like to have over 50 bottles of tomatoes in the pantry each year.  I could probably use 100 bottles but when I have to buy the tomatoes it is just too expensive.

Here’s what I do with them.

First of all I put as many tomatoes as I can fit into a saucepan and add some water and let them cook away until they are soft.   I just chuck them in whole like they are below.

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When they are finished cooking they will look like this.  Nice and soft and juicy. They have reduced quite a bit too.  DSC_0876My husband bought me this special tool years ago and I use it mainly on my tomatoes and when I preserve apples.

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It’s called a tomato press and we got it at an italian/greek supermarket in Melbourne.  It is a great store and we have been back there and always enjoy the experience.

You put the cooked tomato pulp in the top. (I wait until it is cooler)

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You turn the handle and the tomato pulp comes out into the white dish.DSC_0896[1]and the skin comes out the side.  Once I have done the whole pot I put the skin mix through again to get out any more tomato pulp.

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Using this tool leaves you with beautiful tomato pulp that is skinless and ready to go into bottles.  You could put it back on the stove and add other ingredients and spices if you want.  This lot I just bottled plain.

Now I fill my jars. Because of the acid level in tomatoes they can be processed through my Fowlers Vacola Unit which basically uses the water bath method.

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My unit is a bigger electric one and it fits about 8 of these bottles.

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Here is the finished product.  I always double clip my bottles and then leave the clips on for 12 – 24 hours before removing and storing the bottles in the pantry.

DSC_0879Sometimes, if I have them I add zucchinis, and onion and other seasonings that I have on hand and then I can just cook up my mince and add this straight in it for a lovely bolognaise sauce for spaghetti.

How do you process your tomatoes??

 

37 thoughts on “PRESERVING THE HARVEST – BOTTLING TOMATOES”

  1. Envying you right now! Those look great!

    And I’m intrigued with the jars/lids–we don’t have those here. Our are different shaped jars and 2 piece lids. 🙂

    1. Thanks for that, yes our system seems totally different to yours. We can’t put meat or vegetables through it though it is only a water bath method. I bought an canner off the internet for my vegetables and meat but still use my bottles. I did buy some mason jars with 2 piece lids but they were too expensive to buy too many. Blessings

      1. I thumbed through a British book that was on canning jellies and jams, and it had beautiful jars and the lids like yours. We can’t find jars like that here, all we have are Masons, but the ones in the book were very pretty. Here the masons run about $7 to $9 a dozen depending on location, and many sell theirs at yard sales too for half price or less. Bands are reusable, and the flat lids are $1.25 to $2 a dozen and cannot be reused a second time. Bands come with the jars, and can be purchased separately with the flat pieces if needed. Last year we bought 8 or 9 dozen jars, and gave away full jars of jellies and such so not much left for this year. But that’s the joy of canning, not only preserving for us but to also share with others. 🙂

        Some of the older generations here also reuse commercial jars, like mayonnaise and spaghetti sauce and such, and do open kettle canning. It’s not USDA approved but it worked back when and the older folks swear by it. I’m sticking with water bath for now, and have the pressure canner but haven’t used it. It works as a water bath canner too, and makes a lot of soups! 🙂

        You’re in my favorite part of the year–bringing in the harvest!

        1. Hi, I will have to have a look at a British canning book too and see what they are like. I would be happy if we could get mason jars that cheap here. They are very expensive at least 3 times the price you pay per dozen. Even our jars are expensive second hand and you can pay over $2 per bottle at second hand stores. I have really been blessed with all my jars, I think we would have over 700 of them. A lot of them have been gifted to me by people who don’t do it any more, before it became a trend again. People are really getting back into it because of the cost of food these days and self-sufficiency is growing. Even my oldest daughter has been gifted most of hers by aunts who have retired and no longer have a need to have a pantry full of preserves. (feeding only two).
          I reuse certain jars as well especially those that have already been heat sealed like spaghetti sauce and use the screw on lids, there are companies on line here that sell new lids.
          I bought my pressure canner from an Australian Importer and use it every year. I was a bit nervous at first but I haven’t had any problems yet.
          Thanks for sharing how things work over there, I really find the differences fascinating.
          This part of the year is busy as we prepare our pantries for the winter months but it is so rewarding. It is almost apple picking time and we pick apples from off the side of the roads. There are at least 8 trees within 12 kms of us that we pick from, hopefully before anyone else gets there, and I try and preserve about 60 bottles of them for the year, they are perfect for crumbles.
          Thanks and blessings to you, have a great week.

          1. OH I am so jealous!!! I’m already tasting the apple butters and jams and preserves you’re going to have!!!

            A good friend of mine preserves everything she gets, from her own growing and from Amish auctions and good sales in the stores, and she puts away a good 300 to 500 jars a year, and cans year round as the produce is available. I am in awe of you all who do that! I’m just a beginner and still working my way through the jellies and jams. 🙂

          2. 🙂 Thank you for your comment and I am going to find out what apple butter is as I have never heard of it. I usually bottle our apples either stewed – ready for deserts or sliced – ready for apple pies. I made apricot jam last year, but I still have heaps left so I just stewed and bottled our apricots this year. My husband and I just had some for desert and they were yummy. Give canning a go, once you get use to the way it works, it is great. I was very nervous at first but I haven’t had any real issues, only a couple of jars not sealing. The apples we picked are just lovely and quite big and tasty, often they are sour so you need to cook them, but I think that we will eat a few of these fresh too. Blessings

    1. Thanks Crystal, you are so right, this tool is great. I used to just cut them up and blend them to process the skins, but it wasn’t always the best way. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Blessings

  2. We’ve never lived anywhere with enough space to grow enough to process. One day I hope that I will be able to grow a surplus. Very cool!

  3. I love Melbourne Mediterranean supermarkets, there is nothing to compare with them over here in Perth. One or two little stores that almost suffice with the basics but not all the amazingly fun stuff like the Melbourne stores.

    One day I’ll have to give canning a go.

    1. I don’t know about Perth but you are right Stella the Melbourne ones are fabulous. We could spend all day there no problems. My Sister-in-law took us to an Arab bakery one time and a bulk wholesaler and it was marvelous. We bought fresh baked flat bread which was delicious and spices and olive oil by the drum. It was a wonderful experience. Give canning a go it will be addictive. Blessings and thanks for stopping by.

  4. I have used water bath to can tomatoes from my garden, but do not have a pressure cooker. I freeze some diced to use in soups and sauces. Since I grow only a few, it is an easy way to handle the excess. – Margy

    1. I would agree with you Margy, freezing is good when you only have a few vegetables to deal with and it is so quick and easy. Our freezers are usually full of meat and I don’t have much room for veg. Thank you for sharing with us how you do things and for stopping by. Blessings

  5. Ok, I pretty much do mine exactly the same as you do, except I cut the pits from the top (and any bruised parts) off before cooking them down. I’m thinking since I saw that you didn’t, maybe I won’t either 🙂 .
    Yes, your lids are different. Can you use them over and over?
    I hate purchasing the flat part of the lids every year. A couple of years ago they came out with Tattler lids which can be used indefinitely (hooray!) but they are about $1 apiece 🙁 . I only have about 150 of the wide mouth and that many of the regular, but I’m getting used to them. Eventually, I’d love to go all Tattler so I don’t have to keep buying them.
    VERY INTERESTED: Here, we bring all the tomatoes in before they are ready (usually all green tomatoes) to keep them from freezing and going bad. I store them until they turn red. It sounds like yours just stop producing though? Is that what I’m understanding?
    Blessings,

    1. Hey their, thanks for your comment and questions, hope your family are feeling better now??
      We can re-use our lids over and over, I have had some of mine for years. We do need to replace the seal rings occasionally as they stretch and then don’t seal properly but I am only starting to do this now after years of use. (it is probably not recommended to re-use them all the time but it isn’t an issues). Mason jars are terribly expensive here but I do like the look of them, they are such a nice jar.
      I always thought that green tomatoes don’t ripen, if they do then I would harvest them and then store them too. Our bushes will keep producing but they won’t turn green once the weather cools. It isn’t even close to freezing now, just quite chilly but they still wont colour up. My husband and I were discussing whether it is only certain types that you can pick and then they turn green. What type of tomato do you plant??? Do you store your green tomatoes in a cool place or a warm place??? Thanks and I look forward to your reply. Blessings

      1. We had one farm friend casualty, but the family is recovering. It’s been a long week. Thank you for prayers.
        I’m going to have to do some research, as I didn’t know there were any varieties that did NOT ripen when brought indoors. Ours will continue to grow until they freeze (I can get away with a couple of nights throwing thick blankets/sleeping bags over them as long as I take them off first thing in the morning).
        Usually when I know it will freeze, I’ll pick all the green ones and bring them in. I’ll put a few in the window seal and over the next week or two they will turn red (or yellow–we love those too). For the masses, I wrap them EACH in a piece of newspaper and then in a single layer inside a box. It takes a ton of boxes, but if I stack them on top each other they will rot. Then I put them all in the pantry (in a basement, so pretty dark and cool). I check them every week and pull out the red ones. They take quite a while to ripen, but don’t last as long as the stuff in my cold cellar (onions, potatoes, carrots, apples, etc.) They do just as good as the ones in the window getting sun.
        Long winded…next time I’ll send an email. Sorry.
        Blessings,

        1. No don’t be sorry I really appreciate all your wisdom regarding this issue (and others). We don’t have basements here but we have a shipping container, maybe I could put them in there, it will be dark and cool now that summer has passed. I will keep an eye on the ones out there and see what I can get to ripen in the sun and then pick them all before we get any frosts. It sounds like a lot of work though but probably very worth it. Thanks for getting back to me, you are such a blessing.

          1. Thank you for that. Shipping containers are a bit of a trend here, friends have one for storage as well and you see them popping up all over the place. Ours is quite a big one 40 ft and it is hard to hide. Will have to talk to my husband about putting the tomatoes there and see what he thinks. Blessings xxxx

  6. I picked all my tomatoes a month back due to a bad fruit fly infestation. I’m interested in how many plants you need for 50 bottles. I was considering using an electric water bath but was wondering if the pressure preserver could be used for things like tomatoes and jams as well as I think I may preserve low acid foods in the future.

    1. I am sorry about your fruit fly infestation, what a pity Therese. We don’t have a problem with that as we are too far south but I can imagine it being disappointing. We usually plant around 300 plants but haven’t gotten 20 bottles off of them the last couple of years due to weather either being too hot (and burning them off) or too cold (not producing and ripening). If you lived in a warmer climate and had a good producing tomato bush maybe you would only need 20 – 40 plants, but I am not sure. Next season we are going to plant them in a hothouse and get them started very early and hopefully have them growing over a longer period – maybe this will work. I use my fowlers preserver for my tomato based products but if I add too many different vegetables I will do them in my canner. The canner is great and I think you could do jams in it but I haven’t really looked at that yet. Have a look online and you will get heaps of ideas. A canner is a great tool and definitely one for the kitchen that has to prepare and preserve heaps of produce. Thanks for your comment and questions and for stopping by. Blessings

  7. I’m canning vicariously as I read your post. Thanks for adding it to FF&EE!

  8. I love canning tomatoes! They are so nice in the dead of the winter to pop open. Thanks so much for sharing on the (mis)Adventures Mondays Blog Hop.

  9. I wish I knew how to can!! Thanks for sharing on My 2 Favorite Things on Thursday – Link Party!! Hope you come back tomorrow and share some more…I love having you!! Pinned!!

  10. Wow…that thing is so cool! I usually blanch the whole tomatoes then pull the peels off. Your gadget makes it so much easier!

    Thanks for linking up with Green Thumb Thursday! We hope to see you again this week!

    ~Lisa

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