It’s been said that sometimes you have to jump off a cliff to see if you can fly, and I guess that’s what we finally did with our pressure canner this year. We jumped!
And it turns out we can fly! Oh Yes We Can! Following the USDA’s guidelines (found here), we've canned 20+ quarts of tomatoes this year. Some of the jars didn't properly seal, and with those we either put them in the freezer for use at a later time or we refrigerated them and used them within a few days. It was messy and time consuming, but not nearly as scary or difficult as I was imagining it to be.
I am wondering, however, what on earth possessed me to buy such a HUGE pressure canner?! Seriously, this thing takes for-freaking-ever to come up to a boil and it doesn't even really fit in our sink (which makes washing it a fun task). Oh well, if I ever have the desire to can TWENTY pints all at the same time...I guess that dream is within reach. ;)
We also made up several batches of sauce and either pressure canned or froze those as well. This is my all-time favorite tomato sauce recipe (makes a great chili base, too!), although this one is quite good as well. Soule Mama's sauce tastes like summer in a jar though (plus, it's much lower in fat since it doesn't have all that butter!), so that's the one I usually go for even if it does take quite a bit more time to make.
The color is all off in this next photo, and there's a distracting mess in the background, but it shows my own personal pressure monitor in action. Aww, Nervous Ninny...I love you. :)
My stretch goal this year was to put up 52 jars of tomatoes, and I ended up getting a little more than half-way there. Not too shabby for my first real year of canning! And I learned a lot about which varieties of tomatoes are the best producers for our relatively short growing season. Now I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that we have another warm summer next year so I can put those lessons to good use!