What I did with those 90 pounds of tomatoes

I’ll admit: the first time I canned tomatoes, I felt empowered. Like a woman who could save the world, in a pinch, with her preserved foods.

Save the world, I say — with SIX! QUARTS! of TOMATOES! (picture the recently-awakened Dr. Evil, in one of the Austin Powers movies, making his demand for ONE! MILLION! DOLLARS!). Yes, immediately after that empowerment, I was a little dumbfounded at what a big box of tomatoes actually looks like once canned.

I wondered: was it worth the effort?

But then I spent all of last winter making tomato soup, and spaghetti sauce, and realized that there was a noticeable, even significant difference between the flavor of a soup made with home-canned tomatoes versus store-bought. Add to this the fact that I’d love to avoid BPA-laden cans altogether, and it seemed that the whole canning thing wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

So this year I bought an extra box, bringing my total up to 90 pounds (the jury’s still out on whether I’ll go for yet another 30-pound box — the jury being made up of 75% myself and 25% my husband, who is likely now trained to panic whenever he walks into the house and smells simmering romas, as he knows I will be preoccupied with sloshing tomato juices for the next 12 or so hours).

But it’s just. So. Hard to stop.

To give perspective — you can look at this list and choose to be either impressed/jealous or surprised/disappointed at the yield. From 90# roma tomatoes, I now have:

  • 6 quarts marinara sauce (two have already been eaten, after having not sealed on my and Suzanne’s first attempt at pressure-canning).
  • 6 quarts thin tomato juice/broth (leftover from straining chopped tomatoes before cooking down).
  • 6 quarts stewed Italian-style tomatoes
  • 6 pints tomato salsa
  • 10 quarts diced tomatoes (in the two “dueling canners” above, as diced tomatoes can be either water-bath or pressure-canned — I plan to compare the flavor of both!)

…aaaaaaaand that’s it. Looks nice stacked up in my stockpiling warehouse basement — but the jars are so precious, I wonder if I’ll be afraid to use them.

In other news — I have a super-fun giveaway planned for next week. Be sure and check back, especially if you’re interested in learning more about fermented foods.


Want to get set-up for canning? This is the water-bath canner I use, pictured above-left (cheaper, and a great intro to canning). For a step up in complexity, or to can lower-acid foods, this is the type of pressure-canner I use (above-right).


11 thoughts on “What I did with those 90 pounds of tomatoes

    1. Awesome article on using the skins! I’ve had a similar thought, re: using skins for flavor. When I made marinara this summer, I kept the skins on for the simmering, then ran it through a food mill before canning — but I still discarded all those skins. Will try to use them in my next batch!

  1. I bought a 50lb crate of tomatoes from a local farmer. I feel so good about the pasta sauce, salsa, BBQ sauce, tomato jam and pizza sauce I canned up.
    Such an amazing feeling!

  2. I get the same way, not being able to stop I mean, with berries. Frozen for winter smoothies or cans of jam; I can’t get enough. Must be the same stock-pile loving gene in my make-up. Watch out world if tomatoes enter the picture too!

  3. I plan on buying myself a pressure canner with some of the wedding money we got. The hubby got a new desk chair (dork), so I’ll get me a canner (which I think makes me an equally big dork. Oh well.). I’m excited! But we don’t have anywhere to store a bunch of jars of tomatoes (or anything) at the moment. Silly house with no basement.

    1. can you stash your tomato jars in the spare bedroom closet?

      Re: getting a canner. I hear amazing things about the All-American, if you have wedding money burning a hole in your pocket. Suzanne said that in her Master Canning class, the women who had one said you’ll never want to use another canner. More than double the price, but it’s on my long-term wish-list.

  4. I thought of you today as I purchased an orange-fleshed honeydew. And as I opened store-bought cans of sauce for my pasta tonight. A friend of mine has invited me down to can tomatoes with her but I can’t find the time. I am envious but I am a realist. Just putting dinner on the table each night is a major accomplishment for me. Canning 50 lbs of tomatoes would more than likely send me into the loony bin. Even though I would eat well while incarcerated ๐Ÿ™‚

    Can I come over for dinner?

    1. Beth, there is no doubt that canning requires a ton of time. When I’m dealing with a box of tomatoes, all else stops. By the end, my house is a total wreck, I’m wiped out, my kids have been ignored, and wonder if it’s all worth it.

      But then I eat the tomatoes, and do it all over again. (I also don’t have a day job, in which case I’d likely never can anything!)

      And — please come for dinner anytime ; )

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