How to Press & Can Tomatoes

You need to listen to me, and you need to listen to me good.  If you want to press your own tomatoes you need to stop reading this post immediately and run out to buy a bushel of tomatoes.  Now.  GO!  You can catch up on how to do it when you get back.

In the middle of September, tomatoes are getting close to their breaking point.  2 weeks ago, they were everywhere.  Now?  In order to get 2 good bushels of tomatoes for myself this year, I sat on the floor of my supermarket  separating all the half rotten bushels of tomatoes into two piles.  Gross enough to make me vomitty in one pile, and good in another.  It took me half an hour and several questioning looks to get 2 bushels of good tomaotes.

That is the sort of thing I do.

Because I’m me.

And me is a bit unlike other people.

Me doesn’t care about questioning looks if it’s going to result in really good pasta sauce.

So!  You wanna press your own tomatoes do you?  You’re feeling like an Italian pioneer are you?  Good.  Glad to hear it.  But,  I have to warn you it can be a miserable, miserable job.  Pressing and canning tomatoes is a bona fide “thing” and not something you can do without a bit of planning and a bit of know how.  Luckily for you … I’m here to show you how to do it.

I’ve been pressing my own tomatoes since I was in highschool.   Yeah. I know.  Probably not what you were doing in highschool.   I’ve always used the recipe passed down from my mother who had it passed down to her from someone else.   Until this year that is.   Up until now I’d always just boiled the tomatoes and then ladled them into a hot jar.  That’s the way they did it in the olden days, and I like to do most things the traditional way.  The problem is … things have changed since the olden days.

Tomatoes have changed since the olden days.  They’ve been “improved” and tweeked and hybridized to within an inch of their lives.  This tomato mutation has caused the pH level of tomatoes to change over the past century.  Where tomatoes used to be high acid, they are gradually becoming lower and lower acid.  Things that are low acid are dangerous to can without either pressure canning them or giving them a hot water bath.  And by dangerous, I mean could kill you.   I don’t know about you but if I’m going to die from self inflicted stupidity I’d rather it be something fun like inhaling too much laughing gas or some sort of Bouncy House mishap.  Not from eating botulism infused pasta.

So … that is your canning lesson for the day.  What worked for gramma’s heritage tomatoes (or any other veg/fruit) may not work for today’s Frankentomato.  The basic canning methods haven’t changed, but food has.

bushel of tomatoes

What you Need

1 bushel of Roma Tomatoes

Brown Sugar (1 tsp. per quart jar)

Coarse Salt (1/2 tsp. per quart jar)

Citric Acid (1/2 tsp. per quart jar)

Canning jars with NEW seals

Funnel

Large Canning Pot(s)

Tomato Press (as seen below)

pressing tomatoes

A good quality tomato press is around $140.  Do not cheap out and buy a plastic one.  You’ll be cursing the tomatoes, the press and the person who sold it to you within 10 minutes.

pressing tomatoes 2

You simply drop the whole tomato into the press and crank the handle.  You can fill the entire hopper up and just keep shoving them down the chute one by one.

 

tomato press

The tomato press automatically filters the tomato pulp and juice from the seeds and skin.

The seeds and skin come out one end, the good stuff out another.

boiling tomatoes

Once you get a pot of tomatoes pressed, bring it inside and put it on the stove.  The tomatoes need to boil for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, do your pre work.

1.  Fill your canning pot(s) with water and get them boiling.

2.  Place your clean jars in a 210 °F oven.  (this prevents the jars from breaking when the hot tomatoes are funnelled into them)

3.  Put the sealer lids (not the rings) into a pot of boiling water.  Keep them simmering there throughout the whole process.  As you need them, you will pick the lids out of the pot and place them on your jar.

4.  Line up  bowls of brown sugar, salt and citric acid.

5.  Cover counter with dishtowels to sop up inevitable spills.

6.  Make sure you have a funnel and a ladle.  Jar tongs and a magnetic lid grabber are handy to have too.

tomato pressing

Once your tomatoes have come to a boil for 15 minutes, you can start jarring your sauce.

Place …

1 tsp. brown sugar,

1/2 tsp. coarse salt,

1/2 tsp citric acid

into each jar.

Do NOT do multiple jars at once.  Keep the jars hot in the oven and only do one at a time.

canning tomatoes

Place a funnel over your 1 quart jar and ladle in hot tomatoes to within 1/2 ” from the top of the jar.

The “head space” is very important. Do NOT leave 1″ or 1/4″.  It must be 1/2 ” to properly seal.

Remove funnel and wipe around the rim of the jar with a clean dishcloth or damp paper towel.

Anything drips sticking to the glass rim will prevent sealing.

Take sealer ring from hot water and place on jar.

Screw screwband on.  Barely finger tighten only.  Do NOT overtighten.

pressing tomatoes 4

Once you’ve filled enough jars to fill your canning pot, place your jars inside using your jar tongs.

Your water should be hot … almost boiling when you place the jars inside.

The water needs to cover your jars by a couple of inches.

Put the lid on your canning pot and bring the canning water back up to the boil.

Once at the boil you can start timing.

Your jars need to boil for 45 minutes.

hot water bath

This process goes on and on for hours and hours.  While your 45 minute hot water bath it taking place, you can run outside and start cranking your remaining bushel of tomatoes.

This will take hours.  And hours and hours.

But it it worth it.

1 bushel will get you 20-22 quarts of tomato juice.

2 bushels of tomatoes will get you 42-44 quarts.

Like so …

canned tomatoes

 

These tomatoes will last me 2 years.  Now you’re probably wondering … what the hell are you supposed to do with them?  They are the perfect base for anything tomato related.   Just add spices and a little bit of tomato paste and you have a basic tomato sauce.  Cook it for only an hour and it’ll taste very fresh and bright.   Cook it longer and it takes on a richer, smokier taste.  Use them wherever you would use canned tomatoes or tomato sauce.   Like in chili or for a spicy tomato sauce or … best of all … for this … Gramma’s Spaghetti & Meatballs.

 

Tips for Canning

* Get everything washed, organized and ready to go the night before.

* If you don’t have a canning pot, just use a large pot and place a metal trivet on the bottom.  (the water needs to circulate around and under each jar)

* If your tomatoes are muddy and dirty wash them in the bathtub.  If they only have a bit of surface dirt, just wipe them with a dishtowel.

* Some people also add in a basil leaf to infuse basil flavour  into the sauce.  I do not.  For one thing the leaf turns black and gross looking.

* Play opera while you’re spending the day pressing tomatoes. Even if you don’t like opera.

I’ve done this so many times it’s second nature so if you’re unsure or think I’ve left something out let me know.  Or … you could just sit staring at your computer giving me a questioning look.

 


 

77 Comments

  1. Marti says:

    Ok, so I stumbled on a brand-new blue graniteware pot with a metal “steamer pot” in the bottom.

    I don’t think I can get this interested in tomatoes this year (bought a butt…er boat-load at Costco a while back that I still haven’t used), but other than that, am I good-to-go on canning stuff with that pot, K?

    • Karen says:

      Marti – Mmmm. I don’t know. Hard to tell w/out seeing it, but as long as the jars don’t touch the bottom and the pot is tall enough to get 2 ” of water over the top of the jars you should be fine. ~ karen!

  2. Kitt says:

    Wow. I’ve never seen (or heard of!) a tomato press before. Now, of course, I want one in the worst way. I’ve peeled and seeded my entire tomato crop by hand, and then roasted and pureed them to make sauce. Which I froze.

    OK, bookmarking this post for next year. I swear.

    Brava on your productive day! You will enjoy the fruits of your labors, indeed.

    • Karen says:

      Kitt – That’s exactly the reason I did this post. An astonishing amount of people don’t know about the tomato press. When I was looking up how long I needed to water bath my tomatoes I didn’t find a single recipe that talked about using a tomato press. So, I figured I’d better do a post on it. Even though it’s already a huge, messy, annoying, exhausting job as it is – let alone having to do it and photograph it at the same time! ~ k

      • Uturn says:

        I do have a tomato press and used it once before reading this blog sent to me by a friend. I HATED it!!! It seemed like an acrobatic feat to get the sauce to go into the container. I had to use a cake pan to catch it because that’s all that fit underneath it. Seemed like the same amount of effort to do it this way as to boil them shortly and peel then throw in the blender. Also, all that goop coming out of the end of the press was a nightmare to control. I did try the bag like in the picture, but it did not work so well. I ended up using a cup which I had to dump frequently. I was also not happy when the crank wiggled the clamp off the table and the whole works came tumbling down. Yes, this is a good quality metal press from Fleet Farm.
        The worst part about the ordeal was the cleanup! That strainer didn’t come clean despite scrubbing and soaking. I ran it thru the dishwasher and now there appears to be some rust on it.
        This is only my first year of both gardening and canning, so I’m learning lots and was never shown by other generations so I have a lot to overcome. This was just one experience of many

        • Karen says:

          Uturn – If you have a good ($100 – $150) all metal press it sounds like you just don’t have it set up properly. Take a look at how mine is set up. You have to attach the press to something it can clamp onto firmly like a square edge table or 2×4. The spout of your press should hang over the edge of the table so you can put a huge pot underneath it. Depending on the size of your pot, you may need to raise it up a bit on bricks so you don’t get a lot of splashing. If you set it up like this, wrapping a full sized garbage bag around the chute the pulp and seeds comes out of should work perfectly. The bag will be long enough to rest on the floor and will collect the seeds and pulp from bushels and bushels of tomatoes. Lemme know if you have any other questions! ~ karen

    • Buvezdevin says:

      If you have a KitchenAid mixer, getting a couple of attachments will make it a powerful motorized tomato press.

      You need the “food grinder” and the “fruit & vegetable strainer” and while you don’t have to have the “food tray” it will hold a lot of fruit/veg for feeding into the grinder.

      Also, putting the skin/seeds through any tomato press for a second pressing will extract even more juice and pulp, less quantity but thicker than first pressing.

      • Karen says:

        Buvezdevin – I *do* have a KitchenAid and I also have a food grinder for it. Not the fruit and veg strainer though. Might look into it. I have put the skin and seeds through for a second pass, but I find for the amount of juice I get from it and how long it already takes to do 2 bushels of tomatoes, I’m fine to just feed them to the chickens, LOL. At the end of bushel 2, I’m DONE. 🙂 ~ karen

        • Buvezdevin says:

          Oh, Karen, I meant a generic “you” for your fans who may be looking to buy a tomato press. If I had the press in your photos, I might not have bought the KitchenAid attachments. That said, I lurv them and put up my first tomatoes this year.

          I am bookmarking this page for tips and reminders for next time canning.

          Now, that we know you have ample homemade tomato purée, I am soooo looking forward to any further recipes using such, and will definitely be trying Gramma’s recipe you suggested above.

  3. Trysha says:

    Canning totally intimidates me. I’m afraid even if I do it right, we’re all gonna die of botulism. Or I will really excel at it and we’ll be eating jarred pumpkin butter/vanilla pear jam until the End of Days.

    I go from one extreme to the other. I’m hard to live with.

  4. Lui says:

    Opera adds the italian touch, isn’t it?
    I love your blog!

  5. Brenda K-C says:

    I use a food mill rather than a press for the tomatoes because I really liker them chunkier than the press allows.But I agree with you that the tools must be well made to avoid frustration.

  6. Mandy Y says:

    Can you use a mouli instead of a tomato press? Seems like it would do the same job 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Mandy – It can be done, but if you’re doing 2 bushels … or even 1 bushel of tomatoes I wouldn’t recommend it. It would be too time consuming. With the press the skins and seeds are automatically dispensed out one side so you can keep cranking and pressing for a long time. A food mill you’d have to empty the top out after every several tomatoes. Plus, with a press you extract every single bit of juice/pulp. More than you would with a mill. If you plan on doing this, an actual press is worth the investment! ~ k

  7. Langela says:

    I agree with needing the tomato press. I also have extra striners for berries, grapes, squash, etc. It is great for applesauce! I love the look of freshly canned jars of stuff lined up on the counter. They are so pretty and the feeling of accomplishment is amazing. BTW Karen, I really like your square jars.

  8. Tracy says:

    Wow; I’ve got to go find me a tomato press!! Didn’t know such a thing existed. One tip I think is a ‘good to know’ — don’t use an aluminum pot or spoon. Something about the tomato reacts with the metal and you can get a funky taste. I dont know if that taste is obvious to everyone or just critical foodies, though, so maybe its not a biggie. Oh, and because of the lack of acid in tomatoes, I’ve also added some lemon juice; just enough to boost that acid level up a bit.

    • Tracy says:

      Wait – I just saw ‘citric acid’ in your recipe. Duh. That’s what that’s for! Forget the lemon juice!

      • Elgog Partynipple says:

        I use only stainless steel pots and pans. Aluminum and copper reacts with acids and create a metalic taste in things. It also discoloers the cookware. When I was a chef (for many years) we used only aluminum cookware. I don’t really know why that is. Also, the knives we used were the cheapest knives known to man. They would chip or shatter. When they broke, you threw them away and pulled out a new one. No sharpening. Watch cooking shows that show chefs working in commercial kitchens. They all use that white handled knife. That’s the cheap knife all kitchens use. It’s the same with all the beatup cookware. It’s all aluminum.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tracy – You’re right …. no reactive pots or utensils. ~ karen!

  9. Babie Knoop says:

    I have been canning for years and did not know about the press either….I just canned the whole tomato in a water bath too.
    I do have a pressure canner but I kinda hate it! Did beets in it this year. I am going to try your press and method this year for my tomatoes….getting ready to do them maybe tomorrow. Still have tomatoes out on the vine….(if they didn’t freeze last night)!!!

  10. cred says:

    I gotta get me a tomato press- wow! I’ve heard of this either.
    Another tip, although widely used in canning tomato recipes, is using bottled lemon juice to bring the acidity up. 1 tbsp per 500mL jar Or you can use vinegar- 2 tbsp per 500 mL.
    Not just the new-fangled tomatoes are low acid- many heirloom varieties are low acid. And the colour or the taste of the tomato is no indication of acidity. Yellow tomatoes, introduced to the mass market as low acid are not all low acid and not all reds are high acid. Those that taste sweet may have high acid but the higher sugar content masks the acidic taste & vice versa.
    So, blah, blah, blah… you just don’t know what you’re getting so add lemon juice, vinegar or citric acid to play it safe.

  11. fabulous post, per usual karen. kudos to you and your canning self! i’m wondering if you’d be willing to share the brand of the tomato press that you’re using. i’d love to find a similar one for my own tomato escapades. thanks!

  12. Uturn says:

    Question….is it ok to saute things like onion, pepper, celery to cook down with the tomatoes prior to canning for extra flavor/texture in the sauces? Does that change the pH?

    • Karen says:

      Uturn – If you were to add onions or celery, you’d need to process the jars to whatever time those ingredients require. When you can you need look at all your ingredients and then process to the vegetable/fruit that requires the longest processing time. That’s why if you’re making sauce, you’re best to just make the base and then add your onions, carrots, spices, garlic etc. after. ~ karen!

  13. Linda says:

    I’ve been doing this my whole life. My parents are freaks and do 15-20 bushels. We wake up at 5 am. I dreaded it when I was younger and thought of every excuse imaginable why I needed more sleep. However now I do appreciate it. We sit there, wash and cut every single tomato to make sure there is nothing rotten. By the end of that process my hands are prunes and I will have at least 1 finger that needs a tiny bandaid (I cut them like an Italian nonna with the knife towards my finger. Bad habit but I can’t shake it.) Anyway the dinner at the end of the day is always the best with the fresh sauce.

    We never use brown sugar, but I am intrigued and really want to try it.

    We always just put fresh basil in from the garden and some salt.

    This year we also changed our process and no longer boil the jars. We’ll see what happens 🙂

  14. Shauna says:

    I am so excited you did this post. I just asked for canning equipment and the blue book for my birthday. I have pretty much read it cover to cover and am now completely freaked out and excited to can something. Of course, now I have to wait to buy this tomato press so I can follow your instructions. All the blue book recipes talk about scraping the sides of the jar with a plastic utensil after the tomatoes (or whatever) are placed in the jars. Does this need to be done with your recipe as well? And, yes, I want to know the answer to the question someone else asked about adding other items like onions, etc. I assume (since reading my blue book) that it would then have to be pressure canned or just frozen?

    Great post. I hope you do more. I am thoroughly impressed that you were able to do this and take pictures. I’m freaked out about getting this all organized in such a way that things stay hot, etc. and I don’t KILL anyone. No pressure. Ha!

    • Karen says:

      Shauna – Inserting a wooden spoon or rubber spatula is to get the air bubbles out that might be trapped. It’s necessary when you’re canning something thicker than a pure liquid because anything thicker or something that has chunks (like whole tomato pieces) can trap air and make bubbles. That isn’t the case with this straight liquid sauce. So no need really to release air bubbles. They release themselves. And yes, whenever you can you have to use the regulations (canning/pressure cooking times) specific to all the ingredients. So if one item in the recipe only requires 20 minutes of a hot water bath, but another ingredient requires 20 minutes of pressure canning to make it safe, you have to do the 20 minutes of pressure canning. Understand? It’s hard for me to describe for some reason! ~ karen

      • Shauna says:

        I do. thank you. I thought about the releasing bubbles thing after I wrote it and realized that it was a silly question, but thank you for answering anyway:)

        Are you able to create your own recipes now based on what you know from books, or do you still have to use recipes from books? When I started all this, I had this vision in my head that I would be able to make my ‘famous tomato sauce’ and be able to can it, but am realizing that if I don’t follow a recipe exactly, I could kill someone. Is there anything anywhere that helps you be able to can your own recipes?

  15. Evalyn says:

    My sister and I spent Sunday processing 120 lbs of tomatoes into juice. I’m getting me a tomato press!

    I don’t recommend supermarket tomatos, however. Famers Market or U-Pick is the way to go. We paid 50 cents/pound for U-Pick.

    • Karen says:

      Evalyn – A lot of supermarkets bring in bushels for “doing tomatoes”. Mine were $15 per bushel and they were fresh, local tomatoes. Depends on the supermarket I guess. ~ karen!

  16. Stéphanie says:

    Aaaaaaaannnnnnnnd tomorrow, are you gonna teach us how to clean pressed tomatoe juice off of flagstones? ^^

  17. Nancy says:

    I canned quite a bit in my younger days Karen..I know how much work you put into this…The finished jars on your counter look so beautiful..It kind of makes me want to do this again…I must go lie down until this feeling passes…

  18. Eva says:

    that’s a crazy amount of tomatoes…. i still have a half a dozen jars from last year so I won’t be doing it this year but next year, when I grow more of my own…..

  19. Jen says:

    ok…now i’m freaked out. my mom and i made salsa and tomato sauce this weekend. we did not boil our jars but we did boil the sauce and salsa. are we going to die???

    • Karen says:

      Jen – Um … well I wouldn’t recommend doing what you did. Have you done this before, or is this your first try at canning? Almost everything that gets canned needs to be processed in one way or another and you definitely need to heat your jars. If I were you, I’d keep the jars in the fridge and start planning your meals for the next 2 weeks out of salsa and tomatoes.
      ~ karen

      • Jen says:

        I meant we didn’t boil our jars after we filled them. We ran the jars through the dishwasher then filled them with hot tomato stuff then put the freshly boiled lids on. The ones that ‘popped’ we put in the pantry. The ‘unpopped’ jars we put in the fridge. Do you think we’ll survive?

        • Karen says:

          Jen – Did you add lemon juice or citric acid? ~ karen

          • Jen says:

            We added vinegar to the salsa. We used a prepackaged spaghetti sauce and just followed the directions. My husband is scoffing at me about botulism. Sassy pants.

            • Karen says:

              Jen – Was the packaged spaghetti sauce *meant* for canning? And poke your husband for me. This is serious stuff. Botulism has no taste, smell or other warning signs and it DOES kill people. If the spaghetti sauce was prepackaged specifically for jarring yourself I’m sure you’ll be fine. If it wasn’t made specifically for canning, and therefore didn’t have a proper pH level I would not use it, I’m afraid. I’m not being overly cautious … the fact that some of your jars didn’t seal is proof that things weren’t done quite properly. Personally, I wouldn’t risk it. I’d use the sauce you have in the fridge and give the other jars away to people to put in their fridge. They’ll last for the next couple of weeks in the fridge but not beyond that. ~ karen!

  20. Cricket says:

    You are a lifesaver! This winter I bought a Squeezo II at the thrift store for $8. I was so excited because I figured it must be better than hand squeezing stuff like my mom did. She had a cone shaped strainer and a wooden pestle. But it didn’t come with instructions or recipes or anything. I planted about 80 bazillion tomato plants which are just not coming ripe (just in time for the first frost here in Maine). Now I know how to use it. Hooray! If I just want to freeze the sauce, would I just put int in clean jars, seal and freeze? I am terrified of killing my family. I tried canning jam this summer and it went so badly I had to freeze it all anyway.

  21. Jo says:

    I was delighted to see a segment on canning because I was hoping that someone would bring up a problem that I have. I usually make chutney, red pepper jelly, pickled grapes, etc. in small jars — 250 ml, sometimes even 125 ml. When I put them in the canner they float! No matter if I cram them into the wire lifter basket and lower them in or put a folded towel in the bottom of the pot and stand them on that. No matter if I cover the tops with 1 inch of water or 2 inches or 5 inches or fill it right up to the top. The jars all turn over on their sides and float! They are slippery and its difficult to lift them out with the jar tongs.

    Doesn’t this happen to anyone else? Is it just me? It’s just me, isn’t it?

  22. Jonalynn says:

    OMG I love you so much right now!! I have had a doohickey sitting in my basement for over 12 years. My mom gave me all her old canning stuff, but didn’t tell me what any of it was. Since I didn’t can at the time, I didn’t care. I just kept moving it. I’ve been canning for the last few years and have used most of her stuff, but there was one thing I didn’t know the use for. I thought it was a sausage grinder, which seemed odd because my mom never made sausage. Oh, I should mention, that my mom died a few years before I started canning, so I couldn’t just ask her.(she was selfish that way. She also died before my daughter became a teenager that drives me crazy~stupid cancer!!) I HAVE A TOMATO PRESS!!! It’s old and looking a little sad, but I’m going to clean it up today! I REALLY, really, really wish I’d know this when I did tomatoes last week! I am SO glad I didn’t sell this at a garage sale! Thank you, thank you!!

  23. Evalyn says:

    Jo: put another wire rack or seperator on top of your jars, then put a larger jar, filled with water, but without a lid, on top to hold it down. Whatever you use as a weight needs to be heavy enough to hold the jars under the water yet let the water circulate. I use a jar with a ring to protect the edges, but no sealer. I also use water filled jars to take up spaces in the canner so the full jars don’t rattle against each other or move around in the canner.

    I would like to make a recommendation: Everyone who is interested in canning, please by a good canning book. My bible is the Kerr/Ball blue book, which I found next to the lids at my local Whatever Mart. It has everything about canning, freezing, preserving and even receipes. The new edition is actually yellow, but never mind that. Also, if you have access (in the US) to County Extention Service, they have people there who are just waiting to help you out. Call them, make them feel appreciated. Canning is not difficult, but it requires attention to certain details.

    • Evalyn, thanks for your post. It is a great idea for holding down little jars, and your recommendation to process from the Ball book or the USDA approved So Easy To Preserve, and to check with the local county extension service is right on target.

    • Sheila says:

      Just an FYI. Don’t forget to update your Ball book every few years or so. The recipes DO change, as well as the timing, etc.

  24. Eva says:

    I decided to skip canning this year as I still have a good stock of everything but looking at pictures of filled bottles makes me wish I had something to stack on my counter.

  25. Jo says:

    Thank you Evalyn! I’m off to buy another rack or separator. I do have several books on canning but none of them addressed the problem of keeping jars upright.

  26. Dan says:

    We have owned both a Victorio and a Sqeezo and liked both. If you don’t like the squirts you sometimes get from the strainer, fashion a shield from a plastic bottle so that it fits right over the strainer cone. Mine was made from an empty coffee creamer container.

    Don’t be afraid of canning. The canner isn’t going to explode since it has a pressure relief valve. Your canned jars of tomatoes are safe from power outages, unlike frozen packages that will mush if your freezer is off for too long. The sight of the jars of canned produce is also very satisfying.

    We actually have two canners so while the first one is cooling, the second is on the stove building pressure. The whole process is a team effort and a good way to build relationships. Find someone with a canner and get together for a session.

    • Marek says:

      I attempted to use a Victorio last year but I felt like I was making more juice than getting strained tomatoes. I have both the tomato and the salsa screen and I was trying to make salsa. Does it make an insane amount of juice? I felt like I was doing it incorrectly and I’d like to try it again this year, successfully this time.

  27. Querencia says:

    I didn’t see this addressed but for people who don’t regularly think of quantities in bushels that’s a bit over 50#s of tomatoes. I just wanted to throw that out there for perspective on the total awesome insanity of Karen.
    and I have bushel envy. Don’t think I’ve ever seen them sold that way around here.

  28. Pam says:

    I’m glad to know that someone else thinks that canning their own tomatoes is totally worth it!! Only mine don’t make it 2 years cause I give them away as gifts!!

  29. Jenny says:

    First- you are HILARIOUSLY awesome. I think I spent about 2 hours last night perusing your website and just laughing- thank you! I needed a good laugh! i actually found you on a search for canning chicken stock- i used your method! Made so much more sense to me than others. You mentioned ( I think ) in that post that you can diced tomatoes also? Do you have a post on that on your site? I haven’t come across it yet, if you do. I started canning last year and attempted diced tomatoes and I was less than thrilled, to say the least, at my results. They taste fine, but they are too soft and not the chunk that I was hoping for. How do you do yours? Thanks so much!!!!!

  30. IslandFarmer says:

    Karen: I grow my own tomatoes on our farm and have been canning for years. I put them whole into a food processor and then cook up batches of pasta sauce using Barbara Kingsolver’s recipe (yes, the famous author). I follow it exactement. It’s fabulous with all her other ingredients and I can’t recommend her recipe enough. However, I want to can just plain tomatoes (for soup or other uses) but find that including the seeds and skins makes the plain sauce taste a bit harsh/acidy. (I’m not talking about ph canning levels, just taste). I assume that a tomato press removes the skin, and thus the remainder sauce is ‘sweeter’. Is this why folks use presses? Also, what are your thoughts on an electric press. Thanks so much for a very helpful blog!

    • Karen says:

      Hi IslandFarmer – I’ll have to look up that recipe. I assume it’s in Animal Vegetable Miracle? The reason I use a press is because it does indeed remove all the seeds and skin of the tomatoes. It makes a perfectly smooth, clear tomato sauce almost like tomato juice. I use it for everything I need to add a tomato based liquid like soups, chilis, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, etc. I also cook tomato sauce with whole tomatoes, but this pressed tomato sauce is my stape. I use a hand press, but if you can afford it the electric presses are supposed to be fantastic. And fast! ~ karen!

  31. Marek says:

    I have a Victorio strainer with the tomato and salsa screen that I tried to use last year to make salsa, but I felt like I was just turning my tomatoes into juice. What tips do you have for using a press? That was my first time and I was intimidated, to say the least.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marek – I have to be honest with you here. I have no idea what the salsa screen is, LOL! I’ve never even heard of one of these tomato presses being used to make salsa. They’re normally used to press the tomatoes, separating the juice and pulp from the seeds and the skin. So, sadly I can’t help you with your salsa dilemma, but hopefully someone else can. ~ karen!

  32. Margaret K. says:

    I have the KitchenAid attachments mentioned by one commenter, but the press is what I use to process tomatoes. Mine is about 30 years old now and still doing it’s job well. Hand-cranked, but I only do a couple of canner loads at a time, from our garden.

  33. Linda L says:

    What is the brand name of the strainer you are using? I’ve been searching the web and don’t see one that looks like it. All metal ones seem to be TSM or Squeezo. While Victorio seems to be a fave, it looks like it is plastic.

    • Karen says:

      I hate to say it Linda but I don’t know! It’s now relegated to the back of my basement because 2 years ago I finally broke down and bought an electric one and it’s great! It was on sale for around $180 at my local grocery store. I’ve found it on Amazon but it’s almost $250 there. It’s made in Italy and is much easier to use than the hand grinding one I have. If I find it in the basement I”ll let you know the brand of the hand operated unit. ~ karen!

      • Linda Lewis says:

        Karen,
        I think we found your hand crank model online. I believe it’s a Tre Spade. They have two models. The smaller one is Model – BT. Not sure what the model # ofthe one like you have is but the hopper is available in stainless steel also. I thought I’d like to have the other screen attachments also – just in case 🙂 but I’m not sure they are available with the BT model. I can’t find any info on them. Are you interested in selling yours?

  34. Robin says:

    One trick I learned to get thicker, less watery sauce — rough chop tomatoes, throw them in a stock pot and cook for about 30 minutes. Put in the fridge overnight. The next day, there is tons of juice that can be strained off and saved for another use. Then run the tomatoes through the press and out comes yummy, thick sauce. I have a huge garden, but rarely enough to do massive batches, so I do it this way in batches, freezing it as I go. So handy to have on hand.

  35. Mary W says:

    Using the tomato press is the very best thing I ever did when I had a big garden. It does work just like you said – mine was aluminum from the hardware store and cost around $40 about 40 years ago – oh, gosh that sounds like a long time ago – I just realized how long ago it was. I gave it away when I moved into town and have wished I had it ever since. I put up enough tomato sauce to last a year and used a big jar several times a week! Usually planted 100 plants. Great advice and exactly how I canned the sauce back then. You are so right, as usual?

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