Canning Tomatoes for Winter

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Canning Tomatoes for Winter

Ask me how I feel about canning tomatoes in August and you'll hear me say, "I'll be grateful for it in February."

I'm always asked and it's always my response. That's as close to hearing excitement about the process as you'll get from me. As one who likes clever shortcuts to tasks, I've yet to hone my tomato canning process to anything less than around an hour and a half. After the jars are sterilized; the pot of water for blanching boils; the tomatoes are skinned, cored, cut, and placed in the jars; the pressure in the canner builds up; and the tomatoes are processed, the end result of staring at just 7 jars of tomatoes on my counter is a bit disappointing. Knowing I need 60-70 jars to carry us through the year could have a little to do with that feeling of discouragement.

You might wonder why I bother if it's not something I enjoy, especially since I could pluck 7 cans of tomatoes off the grocery store shelf in under 30 seconds. Of course having control over the quality of the food that goes into our bodies would be the popular answer, and it is a fantastic and important benefit; it is the foremost reason I do it. But, for someone like me who thrives on the sentimental things in life, another reward lies a few months down the road. In January and February, when I pull one of those jars of tomatoes off my pantry shelf, I hold in my hand a symbol of warmth, of green, of the smell of earth, all things that are missing during those cold winter months. Remembering that we planted, watered, protected from destructive pests, and then harvested from the plants the gems that are in the jar I hold in my hand, well, it reminds me that sometimes waiting on your reward makes it that much better. It reminds me that days of more enjoyable weather are coming. Somehow I don't think I'll be reminded of warmer days, greener landscapes, and the smell of earth while plucking a can of tomatoes from the grocery store shelves.

So as I can and feel less than enthusiastic about it, I think to myself, "I'll be grateful for it in February." And I can find contentment in the process because I know it's true.