Freeze or Can tomatoes?

sue_ct(z6 CT)August 18, 2009

I have been reading in other threads that many people freeze their tomatoes. I have never had the ambition to buy the supplies and do any canning. Plus I grow indeterminates because I want a continuous supply of tomatoes rather than one large harvest. But IF I get enough at once to can, is there any difference in the taste and quality of product you get from canning vs. freezing? If you could do either, which would you do? I might try buying just half a dozen quart jars and see what happens. I am a little afraid of all those good tomatoes spoiling if I don't do it right, though.

Sue

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

We do both. Freezing them is quicker and easier but canned store much longer (years), are easier and ready to use as is, and taste much fresher.

Some will tell you that unless you plan to do a fair amount of canning the upfront expense for equipment may not be justified.

Check out all the discussions on both processes over on the Harvest Forum. I linked some of them below.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Harvest Forum - Canning vs. Freezing Tomatoes discussions

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 2:50PM
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instar8(Z 5 N.IN)

In the middle of winter, i put a jar of tomatoes in the fridge, then eat them with a fork...or pour them over a salad instead of dressing. Really, when you pop that lid, you can smell summer.

Frozen toms are great to have for cooking, but not so great to just eat straight. Like digdirt says, it's nice to have both, and you can balance the time and money for yourself.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 3:02PM
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instar8(Z 5 N.IN)

Plus tomatoes are the easiest thing to learn to can, they're high-acid and hard to mess up. The first time i canned tomatoes, i was 30 years old, and did it like i remembered doing it with my mom. Well, OK maybe a little fussier about cleanliness, given my education in microbiology. I've never had a bad jar in 28 years.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 3:11PM
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sue_ct(z6 CT)

Thanks. This might sound odd, but I am not sure if I have a pressure canner. I have a pressure cooker that I ordered online and turned out to be larger than anticipated in person, so I don't use it a huge amount but it came with a few "accessories" that might be for canning. One is a basket. I will have to look and see what else, if anything. What else would I need to use it for canning?

Sue

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 3:13PM
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sue_ct(z6 CT)

OK, I searched and answered some of my own quesitons. Pressure canners have a gauge that my pressure cooker doesn't, and the basket is used for steaming, not canning. Called my sister who used to do some canning and she said she never bought one, so none I can borrow, but she always canned tomatoes just using a water bath method. Anyone do that? She can't remember the details. I will check the harvest forum, also.

Sue

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 3:40PM
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boothc9

It isn't recommended to use a pressure cooker for canning (probably to get you to buy both a cooker and a canner) but I do anyways. You don't really need anything else besides cans (with lids and bands of course) and something to raise the cans off the bottom of the cooker. Just be sure to add 5 or 10 minutes to your processing time if using a pressure cooker instead of a canner. The cookers are thinner so they heat up faster but also cool down much faster compared to canners. This is why you need to add more time.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 3:46PM
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susancol(7 Atlanta)

Yes, Sue, you can can tomatoes using the water bath method. You just have to make sure you have a good acid ratio, so it usually requires adding some lemon juice or citric acid or something. Much more info and expert advice on this is available on the Harvest Forum. Head on over, they're friendly overthere! :)

Susan

Here is a link that might be useful: Harvest Forum

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 3:53PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Pressure canning tomatoes is an option and gives best quality but it isn't required - BWB canning is allowed if done properly.

However please note that tomatoes are NOT considered high acid vegetables but LOW-acid vegetables so additional acid in the form of citric acid or bottled lemon juice must be added to them.

As several have mentioned now, all of this is discussed in great detail on the Harvesting (Food Preservation) Forum but I have also linked the current guidelines for home canning tomatoes below.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: NCHFP - How to can tomatoes

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 4:59PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

I used to can them in a pressure canner, but got so frustrated because the USDA times were so long, it was ridiculous. I always had liquid come out of the jars and ended up with half-full jars.
Does the citric acid add any kind of flavor? I didn't want to use lemon or vinegar because of the flavor it would impart.
That's why I went to freezing. I have eaten frozen tomatoes that were several years old and they were fine.
The USDA also scared me into never eating the canned ones until I had boiled the dickens out of them. Surely there's no nutritional value after all that canning pressure/time and then boiling.
I think the USDA finds that one silly person who cans without any knowledge and gets botulism, and so they have to over-react and tell everyone else to pressure can them for 2 hours at 200 psi.
Maybe now that the kids are out of the house, I'll go back to the water bath. If it kills me, they are old enough to take care of themselves now. :)

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 6:12PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I used to can them in a pressure canner, but got so frustrated because the USDA times were so long, it was ridiculous. I always had liquid come out of the jars and ended up with half-full jars.

Uhhh don't know where you got your info Catherine but it is way off base. The guidelines for canning whole or halved tomatoes in water or plain with no added liquid only requires pressure canning either pints or quarts at 10 lbs for 10 mins. or @5 lbs. for 15 mins. depending on altitude. I linked the guidelines below. It is much less than the 45 mins. required in a BWB. And they do not require any further cooking before eating but can safely be consumed right out of the jar if properly canned.

Siphoning of liquid out of the jars is due to inconsistent heating and improper venting of the canner, is not common to pressure canning, and is easy to prevent.

And no, citric acid imparts no flavor but many find they much prefer the taste and the much fresher color of those done with the bottled lemon juice. Either works well.

Sadly there is an awfully lot of invalid home canning info out there on the web. But there are also very reliable sources and NCHFP and the professional food scientists that participate regularly on the Harvest Forum here can be trusted to provide accurate info.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: NCHFP - How to can and process tomatoes

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 7:01PM
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sue_ct(z6 CT)

Thanks everyone, I did check the Harvest forum the first time it was linked, and I later stated that I would check it again, which I did. A lot of good information. Unfortunately, when you search canning toatoes with water baths it also brought up all the pressure canner posts so it can be a lot to wade through to get the correct information, but NCHFP link provided the information much quicker. Thanks again.

Sue

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 8:50PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Thanks Dave,
I was being silly about the times in my last reply. But they were much higher than what you've said they are now. Maybe they've eased up. This was about 15 years ago, at least. I even complained to my ag extension agent lady about it, and she agreed it was excessive.
It had gotten to something like 10# pressure for around 30-40 minutes, which was just plain nuts.
I'm glad to hear that maybe its alot less now.
I have a weighted canner, and the instructions said to let it jiggle between 1-3 times a minute. Well, on my electric stove, it would jiggle either constantly or not at all, so I definitely had trouble regulating it.
Thanks for your info, and I'll definitely look into the more recent times.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 9:40PM
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righteousrichard

Hey every one. Ball mason jars publishes the Blue Book of preserving and tells you how to safely freeze or can all of your hard earned harvests. I bought mine at the local hardware store where I buy my canning supplies. About $7.00. Well worth the money. Richard

    Bookmark   August 22, 2009 at 3:29PM
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wcthomas

The Minnesota Method allows canning tomatoes in a boiling water bath without the addition of acids provided you know that your tomatoes are not a low acid type and they are not overripe.

http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/nutrition/DJ1097.html

That said, I would still add citric acid at 1/4 tsp per pint as this really does not affect flavor and adds some assurance.

TomNJ

    Bookmark   August 22, 2009 at 5:40PM
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John11840(z6/CT)

Here's another perspective. I collect a countertop full of tomatoes, peppers and herbs; combine them with onion & garlic, boil it down and freeze it as sauce. It's much easier than canning, and is ready to use when you want to make pasta sauce, chili, etc. It lasts quite a while. We are just now finishing up our 2007 supply.
John A

    Bookmark   August 23, 2009 at 1:38PM
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raisemybeds(SouthernCT)

Interesting discussion. I do not can anything (but plan to try it some year like many other things on my list). I just the other day simmered down a whole pot of miscellaneous tomatoes on low for several hours, sealed it in plastic quart containers and froze it. Like John11840 above, I plan on taking it out to use in future pasta dishes except I will just add my herbs and garlic at that time. Or add to chili or soup, or make tomato soup on the spot. I have also used blenderized frozen fresh (uncooked) tomatoes this way and gotten nice results. I would really love to master the water bath canning at some point, though, and make the comparison. Imagine, if the power goes out, you don't lose your tomatoes because canned requires no refrigeration!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2009 at 5:52PM
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tedposey

We have a pressure cooker but it is too much trouble to use most of the time.
We freeze or dehydrate most all veggies. When we run out of tomatos we use store bought canned ones. I can't tell any difference in cooking.
My mother used to water bath can all veggies and never lost a can of tomatos but never added acid that I ever noticed, she did ocasionally lose a few cans of corn or green beans.
She did add apple juice to peach juice to make it jell. Lol

    Bookmark   August 23, 2009 at 5:54PM
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liz63(6)

I love to roast the tomatoes with a little garlic, thyme, olive oil and kosher salt. When they're done I add a little white wine and puree it in the blender or food processor - it taste great and freezes really well.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2009 at 6:45PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

I canned tomatoes one year using the boiling water bath method. Didn't care for the taste, because of the addition of lemon juice. I freeze some of my plum tomatoes whole to use for cooking later in the year. Only disadvantage to that is they're space hogs in the freezer.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2009 at 9:30PM
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sue_ct(z6 CT)

I made fresh salsa for the first time tonight and, might I say, YUM! I didn't have any limes which most recipes call for, but I found a recipe that used lemon. Wow, store bought is no comparison. I would love to eat that in the middle of winter. I think I used a Mortgage lifter and a Cherokee purple, red onion, garlic, Italian parsley from the herb garden (no cilantro), an Anaheim pepper from the garden, salt and lemon. Given that it already has lemon juice added, 1-2 Tbl for 2 tomatoes, wouldn't it be safe to can? Of coarse I didn't cook it. Would still taste fresh this winter after going through the canning process? I have two more Anaheim peppers from the garden, but the plant is gone, collapsed from some kind of wilt. I would love to use them in something good like that.

Sue

    Bookmark   August 23, 2009 at 11:30PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Like Raisemybeds suggested, the one great reason to can is that if your power goes out for any length of time, you don't lose everything.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 8:09AM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Sue, unless you pressure can you have to add a lot of vinegar to salsa when using a BWB. IMO, that totally negates the fresh flavors you're trying to preserve.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 12:06PM
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sue_ct(z6 CT)

I didn't know that, I thought the lemon would be enough. Thanks, though. I wonder if it would freeze or if that would turn the tomatoes so mushy that it wouldn't be palatable? I guess there just isn't any way to to get that garden tomato taste into winter dishes. I have reading over at the Harvest forum, also.

Sue

    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 12:38PM
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