Tag Archives: mason jar

The DIY Life: Canning your own fresh made pasta sauce – Tomato Basil

13 Sep

I realized when looking into my freezer, stuffed to the gills with bags of frozen garden tomatoes, that I had never posted the recipe for Tomato Basil sauce last year. Then I looked at my drafts and confirmed it. And I’m thinking, hmmm….we are coming up on the end of tomato season here in Pa, with the last bushels available for purchase at the local farms thinning out and thought ya, I should probably post that recipe. You know, as a reminder to folks who want to can some sauce to get their hands on some tomatoes…and those who have tomatoes get canning! Below is my original, forgotten about post from Tomatopalooza of 2012. Tomatopalooza of 2013 hasn’t happened yet, so I don’t know what my sauce yield will be. I still have some sauce on the shelf, so I’m not in a huge hurry to get on canning sauce. Plus, I’m waiting for hubs to hook me up with an outdoor propane stove so I can can on the deck under the the open sky. *hint hint hubs*

Enjoy the post from the past!

 

Tomatopalooza continued – this round consisted of a basic pasta sauce with simple flavorings so that it can be canned and stored for later use. With the surplus of tomatoes I have in the freezers, I needed to get a head start on making pasta sauce. We don’t eat TONS of pasta anymore because of the heaviness of it and the fact that it packs on pounds unless you are planning to run a marathon – so pasta becomes a special treat instead of a weekly meal. But I wanted to stop having to buy canned pasta sauce. I have become a huge fan of being able to look at a the jars on my shelf and be able to recite – and pronounce – all of the ingredients, regardless of the jar. And gifting someone a jar of something I made from scratch is so fulfilling. People are so appreciative of something, anything in a mason jar. And canning makes me feel proud and empowered. In control of my food source. It also makes me feel in touch with my family history because my Bubba was the canning icon in our family. Sadly, she passed away when I was only 7 so she never got to share her wisdom with me but I can feel her in the things I do.

This batch of sauce was something I spread out over 2 days. Since all my tomatoes were frozen, I thawed them in a HUGE pot over the next two nights, draining off any of the water that seeped out of the tomatoes (this made the cooking down process much faster!) and piling more in as the tomatoes settled and squished down. Out of roughly 40lbs of tomatoes, I ended up with 8 quarts + 6 pints of sauce. It wasn’t super thick like some of the commercially produced sauces but it was a nice consistency. We had some for dinner and with it being just a basic tomato sauce I added spinach, ricotta cheese, some salt and some cooked sausage. It was great!

I have linked to the original post on the Ball canning site for those of you wanting to not do such a huge batch of sauce. Me, I can’t help but do everything in bulk!

Basil Garlic Tomato Sauce

Adapted from Ball Canning

Yield: will vary depending on how long you cook the tomatoes and what type you use. 

2012 yield: 8 quarts 6 pints

40lbs frozen tomatoes – preferably Roma’s

2 cups chopped Vidalia onion

16 cloves garlic, minced

¼ – ½ cup dried basil

Citric acid or bottled lemon juice – refer to canning book for amounts based on jar size

Canning jars, lids and bands – sterilized and hot according to proper canning methods.

The day before cooking sauce, thaw your tomatoes in the pot you will be cooking them in. Drain off any “water” that seeps out of the tomatoes. Add your onion, garlic and basil to the pot. Use a potato masher to break up the frozen tomatoes. Cook until everything is boiling and onion is soft.

Strain the mixture through a food mill to remove seeds and skins. (At this point, you may put the strained sauce into the fridge and cook down another day)

Cook the strained mixture down until reduced by half for a thin sauce.

Add your citric acid/bottled lemon juice to each jar according to size. Fill with sauce to 1 inch headspace. Add to PRESSURE CANNER and process for 15 minutes for both pints and quarts at 11lbs of pressure, adjusting for your altitude.

No pressure canner, or you’re scared of it? You can process jars in a water bath canner as well: 35 minutes for pints

Let cool on counter for 24 hours. Remove bands and wipe down jars and store in a cool dark place for up to 1 year. Any jars that did not seal can either be reprocessed or stored in the fridge for use.

***Follow all canner directions for both pressure and water bath***

The DIY Life: Homemade Bruschetta Mix

31 Oct

Round 3 of tomatopalooza resulted in 14 jars of this loveliness called bruschetta. The house smelled amazing. The jars looked gorgeous. I was going to mince and chop the tomatoes so fine that I wouldn’t mind eating it, but decided against that. I rough chopped them and thought hey, if I want to eat it, I can take the immersion blender to it so it’s a little smoother and less chunky for my liking. I love everything tomato but the actual tomatoes – so I don’t like them in chunks either. Salsa for me has to be fairly smooth. I know I know. It’s the texture. That firm mushiness just gives me the heeby jeebies. I can’t help it.

I did this with fresh tomatoes because I had some around. I have tons in the freezer too but think recipes like this are better suited for the fresh kind. I got this recipe straight off of the ball canning and preserving website. I didn’t have dry white wine, so I used a dry red. Instead of the dried oregano, I used dried chives. Instead of plum tomatoes I used Roma’s. Everything else I followed, because in the canning world, you don’t mess with acid ratios. Nope, no way no how. I doubled the recipe because I had so many tomatoes on hand that it didn’t make sense not to. I will certainly be gifting some of this loveliness come the holidays. And we will be enjoying it come the holidays.

For the recipe, click HERE.

For photos, look no further than below this sentence. Gorgeous!

Garden Bounty – When you are over-run with tomatoes, make some Tomato Jam!

17 Sep

I’m not gonna lie. This year, gardening kind of sucked. With the really dry start and the hot as balls temperatures, things were REALLY slow going. Our corn turned out like feed corn and ended up being fed to the chickens – at least I’ll have free corn stalks to decorate the house with for fall. The single surviving zucchini plant only gave us ONE stinking zuke. The 4 yellow squash plants did a little better and gave us about 10 squash, which we ate sautéed as a side dish and I breaded and froze up a big batch so we can enjoy it in the winter months. Our pepper plants are loaded with peppers, but they just started getting crazy, and I’m not sure how many we’ll get from them before the frost hits. Basil was a total bust. The bugs attacked the leaves, making them look like an ugly green snowflake. Green onions are still growing like wild, but not yet big enough to harvest and eat. But tomatoes? Ya, we are rolling in those. I’ve got over 100lbs in the freezer (for sauce, ketchup and bruschetta) and am averaging about 1 gallon sized freezer bag ever other day – as long as I can harvest them before the chickens attack them. So you could say I have a plethora of tomatoes. I was feeling greedy and scared the garden wouldn’t give me enough tomatoes to make all the tomato goodness I had in mind, so I did go out and purchase a bushel of Roma’s from a local farm. Just in case. Because you never know. So, um, ya.

And with all 3 freezers having been stuffed to the gills with tomatoes, I needed to think of something to do with the 10lbs I had ripening on the counter. I could have made tomato butter, but  we still had a jar left from the last batch I canned. So I decided upon tomato jam. Yes, you read that right – JAM. I don’t know why you’re so freaked out. Tomatoes after all are fruits. Except now it sounds weird calling it a fruit when you think about pasta sauce. And having one on a burger. And chili. Anyways….I had no idea what it tasted like and frankly, I didn’t care at this point. I just didn’t want those tomatoes to go to waste and with the busy weekend I had I couldn’t make anything that required much hands on time since I would be at home very little over the next two days, so tomato jam seemed like a great idea, and something I could put in the crock pot to cook down! Yay!

Once it was all said and done, this was pretty easy to do and the taste is really good. It’s like a sweet hot barbecue sauce. I think it’s less like a jam and more like a chutney but that could be because of how I used an immersion blender to break the tomato halves down. It will be great on chicken, fish, even on a ham as a glaze or dipping sauce. Pretty universal stuff!

As with canning any type of sauce, jam or chutney, your yield will vary. It depends upon the cook time, type of tomato used, how high the sun is in the sky (kidding!) so if you don’t get 10 + 2 jars worth or you get more, don’t fret. I could only fit 10 jam jars into the pot I was using, so I ended up filling two pint jars. One went into the fridge for me to use, the other went to my sister-in-law. And as a side note, this is GLUTEN FREE.

Enjoy!

Tomato Jam

Adapted from Food in Jars

yield: 10 8oz jam jars plus 2 16oz pint jars

10 lbs Roma tomatoes, stem end trimmed off, cut in half

6 cups sugar

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 cup lime juice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

2 tablespoons red pepper flakes

Add your chopped tomatoes, sugar and salt to your crock pot. Using an immersion blender, pulse through the tomato halves to break them down some and get them nice and juicy. Stir to combine everything. Set your crock pot to low and place the lid on where it is slightly vented to allow the liquid to evaporate. Cooking times will vary depending upon how juicy your romas are or if you sub in a different type of tomato – I cooked mine for 18 hours. Once your tomatoes have reduced by half and are a nice, dark burgundy transfer them to a large stainless sauce pot. Add the lime juice, ginger and red pepper flakes. Cook for 15 minutes until hot and bubbling. If you desire a thicker consistency, cook until you reach that.

***While your jam is heating up, prep your mason jars, lids and water bath canner***

Once your jam reaches the desired consistency, remove from heat and fill your jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe rims with a white vinegar dipped cloth, apply lids, and secure bands to finger tight. Process your jars in your boiling water batch canner for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove the jars from the water bath and allow them to cool for 24 hours. Test the seals – any jars that did not seal can be reprocessed or put in the fridge to use. Label jam and store in a cool dark place for up to 1 year.

The DIY Life: Mason Jar Storage and Organization

29 Aug

If you’ve been reading this blog since it started or just browsed it for the last 5 minutes, or know me personally,  it’s pretty easy to see that I have an obsession with all things mason jars. I just can’t help myself! BUT it’s not like I need an intervention or will show up on an episode of hoarders any time in the near future. I hope not anyway. There is no other item that you can have in your home that has SO MANY USES! I use mine for the obvious reason they were created – for food preservation. But I use them for a multitude of other things. The older jars I use for things like foaming hand soap dispensers or homemade sugar scrub storage. The antique blue ones are used for storing sugar, splenda and ground coffee beside the coffee maker. I also use them on my shelving rack to store pasta, beans, and corn for popping. A big jar holds baking mix. Inside my cabinets, they hold all of my baking items: sugars, flours, grains, chocolate chips, nuts, baking soda, homemade vanilla extract, rice and other grains, homemade taco seasoning, dehydrated herbs. They are our drinking glasses for everything from beer to wine. Small portions of leftovers get nestled into them so they can easily be reheated for lunches the next day. Our freezer contains (freezer safe)  jars full of yumminess like pesto , squash spread, and creamy limoncello/tangicello. I have a light fixture by the sink that has old mason jars with stars on them as the glass over the bulbs.

I did this consolidation a couple of years ago because I was tired of all the boxes, bags and various containers holding all of our foodstuffs – raw material and ready to eat. I was so over going to grab the box of rice or pasta for a meal only to find there wasn’t enough. With the limited cupboard space we currently have, it was well overdue to start getting down to organizing everything. And not just the boxes. Because let’s face it – those box/bottle/bag laden shelves only stayed nice and organized for roughly 1 week after all that work. Being in a hurry to get dinner on the table meant things just got shoved back in where they fit. The canning jars saved the day! I’m not stuck on using only canning jars. The clear glass jars from Target are large enough to hold a 5lb bag of flour or sugar. Bigger barrel jars from the discount stores hold bulk egg noodles. A large apothecary jar holds homemade oatmeal.

The beauty of this type of organization is that it’s very easy to see how much of an item you have. There’s no guesswork if you have enough rice on hand for dinner that night. You’ll know if you need more flour for weekend bread baking just by looking into the cabinet. Because the jars are uniformly sized, there will always be a niche in your cabinet to put the jar you were using back where you found it, making it easier to keep your pantry organized.

I have a label on top of each lid that tells me what the jar contains. I will cut the directions off of the bag or box for items I’m not confident I’ll remember how to make and stick them inside the jar. Jars that contain items I don’t use weekly will have an additional label with the expiration date or I’ll cut that off the box/bag and tape it to the interior lid.

Always remember to use the items up before refilling – oldest out first. What I sometimes do is transfer the older contents to a smaller jar and put it on top of the bigger jar so I know to use up the small jar first and can get rid of those bags and boxes before they have chance to clutter up anything. This system has worked out so wonderfully for me. Christmas baking has become so much more efficient with everything so easily seen. People ask me how I don’t freak out about the jars sitting out because they are so easily seen and can get dusty. It’s simple – when I go to use the contents of that jar, I wipe it down with a wet dishcloth. The jars that sit out are the ones that I use pretty regularly so the odds of them getting visibly dusty are slim. They become part of the kitchen decor, but they serve a purpose.

How do you use mason jars in your home?

Mason jar obsession – No bake cheesecake

12 Jul

If you know me, you know that I am obsessed…i mean OBSESSED with mason jars. of all types. My fave happens to be the aqua blue jars from my great gram’s days of canning, which are becoming harder to find. Oh how I covet them! So when i saw all of these desserts in mason jars being listed on the food blogs, I scolded myself for not already having done this! This is by far one of the most simple recipes to make. And the fact that they are individually sized as well as so easy to take somewhere makes them even more awesome. And you can top them with whatever you like! I chose pie cherries because that was what I was wanting. I also added some mini choc chips to them once everything had chilled down. I highly suggest you make these. Take them to a picnic. Take them to work. Take them to a party. Just make sure you get your jars back so that you can make them again!

Individual No Bake Cheesecakes

4 1/2 pint mason jars

1 package cream cheese (8 oz)

1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)

2 tablespoons lemon juice (can be modified to taste)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Topping of choice (cherry pie filling, apple pie filling, oreo topping, etc)

graham cracker crust (follow directions on box)

Combine cream cheese, juice and condensed milk until creamy and smooth. Pour onto prepared crust, top with fruit of choice, and chill at least three hours.