Canning the Salsa and Tomatoes. YUM!!!

Up early today, as I have a big to-do list and wanted to get the salsa and tomatoes canned first, while William was in a decent mood.

First thing was to find all the canning jars. Of course, the small jars (I used half pint jars) were in the second box I looked in. My jar clamp/tongs was in another box and the lids and rings were in yet ANOTHER box!!!

Once I found them, I ran them through the dishwasher to rinse them out and get them hot. That dishwasher is a darn handy gadget, I'll tell you!! William enjoys helping slide the shelves in and out. However, he always slides the shelf IN when you need it OUT and vice versa!

Then a put the salsa on to heat up. It needs to be hot for this process, so I got that going.

While that was heating I got a pot boiling for the lids and rings. I used the pot that Doug keeps telling me to throw away because it only has one handle, but it's one of my favorites. Once it's boiling, I put them in and let it simmer while I work. Always add more lids and rings to the water than you'll need: sometimes a ring is bent or something, or there is flaw on the lids.

I'll be canning the salsa and tomatoes in a hot water bath, so I got my pots ready by filling them with water. I used my pressure canner (w/out the weight) and my enamel canner. My canning jar rack is for quart jars and doesn't allow for good use of space in the pots, so I'm not using it for these much smaller jars.

While all that was going on, I took the time to fix William's breakfast. Most days he has steel cut oatmeal with wheat germ. Since it takes a long time for those oats to cook, I make a big batch at once, then heat a portion each morning. It's William's favorite and he eats a BIG bowl!

After William's breakfast, I folded a big table cloth on the counter and then set all the hot jars on it. I like to do this because filling the jars often leads to a lot of spills and having a towel or cloth down makes the clean up of the counter VERY fast. I have an odd assortment of jars because I got them all from freecycle. Some of them are old and sort of bluish tinted!

Once the hot water baths are boiling and the salsa is hot, ladle it into the jars. The jars MAY have cooled a bit while sitting, but they heat right up when you put hot food in them! See how messy the edges of the jar get? Good thing that cloth is under them!

Wipe all the edges and sides of the jars free of food, then put on the lids and rings. The rings should be snug, but certainly not tightened with all your might!

Once all the lids are on, begin adding them to the boiling water baths. These jar clamps/tongs are great because that steam is HOT! I like the jars to fit close together so they don't bump roughly against each other while boiling.

Put the lid on the boiling pot, turn it down just a bit, and boil for 35 minutes. You can check occasionally to make sure it doesn't boil out of water. If it gets low, add a bit of water from your other boiling pot, or keep a tea kettle simmering on a back burner (my mom's trick).

While those were processing, I heated up the tomatoes.

After the tomatoes were nice and hot, I filled the jars. Because there was a lot of juice, I put all the solid pieces of tomatoes in the jars first, then went back and filled them with the juice. When they're full, I wipe the rims and edges, and put on the lids and rings. Remember not too tight with the rings!!

Into the boiling water bath!!! I added a few water filled jars to take up space, as this is a bigger pot.

Here they all are cooling! After processing, I pull them out of the hot water with my clamps and place them back on the cloth. As soon as they hit the cool air, the seals start popping, indicating a good seal.

Once they had cooled enough to handle and had all properly sealed, I took off the rings to be washed. I washed and dried the lids of the jars, and then wrote the date on top. If you aren't sure you'll recognize the contents, put that on the lid, too. You can use those sticky labels but they leave a sticky residue on the jars that I absolutely hate, so I just use a sharpie on the lid.

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