DIY Canning 101: How to Select Tomatoes for Canning

garden-tomatoes
Fresh garden-picked tomatoes.

It’s July and canning season for tomatoes will be upon us in 4-6 weeks. Now is the perfect time to prepare yourself to can summer’s harvest of tomatoes.

Before you sanitize your first jar, you’ll need to take into account the following:

1. Where you purchase the tomatoes. You can find the best tomatoes in several places, such as:

  • Your Own Garden
  • Farmer’s Markets
  • Roadside Stands
Local farm markets like this one in Alvada, Ohio are a great resource for fresh produce.

2. Price. It’s not worth it to can if you’re paying exorbitant prices. The least to the most expensive options are:

  • Your own garden – is always a good choice and the least expensive option.  You control the insecticides used so you know exactly what you’re eating.
  • Farmer’s Markets – patronize local farm markets use a limited amount of pesticides (hopefully, but always ask).  If you start checking every week in early  August, then you’ll know when canner tomatoes are available. They’re not as pretty as the tomatoes from the  beginning of the season, but they’re considerably cheaper and still taste wonderful.

If you want to save even more money, there is the option of purchasing “seconds.” These are the flawed tomatoes that aren’t as in good shape as the regular canning tomatoes. You’ll need to cut off some spots, but they are oftentimes much cheaper.

Remember to have a good rapport with the employees of these places. Sometimes it’s possible they will call you when the canner tomatoes are ready, or they can hold back regular or second canning tomatoes just for you.

  • Roadside stands – I would advise against this because these places sell  mostly tomatoes that look pretty but are higher priced.
canner-tomatoes
Tomatoes ready to be cooked and canned.

3. When are you planning to can the tomatoes? It’s best to can them within 24-48 hours to maximize your investment by making sure you are able to use the tomatoes before they spoil.

Next is how to can tomatoes for the beginner canner.

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#DIY Simple (Organic) Gardens – Joys and Failures

It’s pretty late in the growing season to start planting, so I’ll skip the how to’s of starting your garden and share my experiences this year.

Vertical gardening was my experiment. I failed, however of successfully growing anything.
Vertical gardening was my experiment. I failed, however of successfully growing anything.

I really wanted to try vertical gardening using pallets…plants that grow up instead on the ground. I tried a couple different techniques, neither that worked however. The only technique that worked was using a small pallet as a support for a plant that doesn’t actually have a vine – yellow squash!

Gardening with pallets. Strawberries worked well until I put it in a vertical position.
Gardening with pallets. Strawberries worked well until I put it in a vertical position.

Last year I had mostly container veggies and used a great organic soil by Butterfield Farms in Michigan; however, I couldn’t find the same soil this year and had to opt for another brand. That soil that was supposedly “organic” and was a total flop for all my vegetables and flowers alike. It was very sandy and didn’t retain any moisture in the pots (or the pallet). I had to ultimately replant the ones I wanted to save. I call this “garden failure education.” It didn’t work, but I learned from it.

This year I also wanted to try canning, so I wanted to grow a vegetable that I eat frequently and could preserve. I got the jist of freezing, so that is my alternative to canning. I made a list of vegetables I eat often, looked up my garden zone and prepped my garden area about a month prior to planting. Vegetables this year:

  • Roma Tomatoes

  • Yellow Reduced Acid Tomatoes

  • Yellow Squash

  • Zucchini, and

  • Bell Peppers

4 out of 5 plants are doing well and are producing a sizable yield.

Caring for the Garden

I had issues with worms and something else eating the leaves off my peppers and tomato plants last year. This year, I didn’t plant anything that would invite the moth worms back; however, still had problems with that other invisible insert. I asked a couple other of my garden neighbors what they used – Seven, which I thought was safe for animals and humans. It did deter the invisible leaf munchers, but I broke out in a rash every time I used it (a powder). Thankfully, it rained often enough to keep the pests away for awhile.

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#DIY: Growing (Organic) Gardens and Canning Month

Dear Readers -

This month is all about DIY gardening and canning. This is my second year of experimenting with a small garden. Last year, I was able to reap the leftovers of my neighbors’ gardens, but I missed my lesson on canning. However, this year, I’m prepared with canning jars, lids, and two ladies who volunteered to help me!

I hope you are looking forward to simple garden ideas, growing and harvesting your own garden as well as how to preserve your toils of the earth. We’ll also be including a couple other DIY recipes to save you money throughout the year – not just summer – things I have tried and actually work.

So let’s get started….

organic-gardens
Simple organic garden Bell peppers were planted at the end of May.
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One perspective about living a greener, healthier and simpler life.