Canning garden fresh tomatoes from our bumper crop of the Buonpane family’s heirloom pear Italian tomatoes is a 100-year-old tradition we are passing on to our family.
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Buonpane Family Seeds
Jim’s family is very Italian on his father side and very English on his mother side. Canning your home grown tomatoes was a skill that melded perfectly with both family traditions. Jim’s family loves to garden and especially to grow their own homemade tomatoes as is the tradition in his father’s family the Buonpanes. Jim’s mother’s family, Grace Ross, was clean and tidy and always trying to be very economical.
When Guerin and Grace got married having a vegetable garden full of tomatoes was one of the first landscape activities planned for their yard in Beachwood Ohio. Guerin planted seeds that were brought over from Italy by his parents. With a bumper crop of tomatoes, Grace started canning those tomatoes as her mother did before her.
Passing Down the Canning Tradition to Our Children
When Jim and I got married one of Jim’s favorite memories is gardening with his dad. His dad saved seeds from the Italian tomatoes from his garden to give to Jim for our new garden. These seeds are so special as they bind the generations together year after year.
Of course shortly after our yard went in at our new home, we started a garden and as summer moved into August we harvested a bumper crop of tomatoes. Jim and I learned from his mother all her tricks and started canning tomatoes within two years of our getting married. We to this day continue the tradition he loved of helping his mother each year. Our children and I love the canned tomatoes as we make delicious Italian tomato sauce with it.
Supplies You Will Need:
- Ball Canning Jars
- Lids & Rims
- Large Canning Pot
- Stock Pot for boiling Water
- Ball Secure-Grip Jar Lifter (a must)
- Canning Funnel
- Cutting Board
- Paring Knife
Step by step instructions:
1. Put your canning jars in the dishwasher to be washed and sterilized.
You will need about half of bushel of tomatoes, either fresh grown in the garden or purchased at a farmers market. You will also need 8 to 10 canning jars and the same amount of lids and rims. Jim’s family only used Ball Canning Jars, so we have continued that tradition. Ball Canning Jars last a life time and we have hundreds of jars that were his parents that we still use.
2. Next, wash your tomatoes and remove any damaged or rotted sections.
3. Next place a medium pot of boiling water to boil on the stove. When the pot of water is at a rolling boil, gently lower into the boiling water, a few tomatoes, but don’t make them too crowded and be careful not to burn yourself with splashing water.
4. Let the tomatoes sit in the boiling water for approximately two minutes, and remove.
5. With a sharp knife and under cold water remove the skin and any hard middle core. Chop the peeled tomatoes into large chunks and put in a large pot to boil the tomatoes on the stove
6. Once all the tomatoes have their skins removed and chunked into the large kennel, put in about 3 TLB of salt (salt to taste) and boil for approximately 40 to 50 minutes. You want a lot of the water to evaporate and the tomatoes to reduce about an inch and a half.
7. Place a smaller pot of water on the stove to boil to sterilize your lids and rims.
8. Move your jars from the dishwasher and when the tomatoes have been reduced, ladle all the stew tomatoes into the clean sterilized jars, leaving 1 inch and securing the lids and rims with tongs tighten the rims on the tomatoes. Put 2 TLB spoons of lemon juice in each quart to increase the acidity.
9. The jars of tomatoes in order to preserve must be put in a water bath for 30 to 35 minutes. Place a large canning pot on the stove and fill the jars and water, bring to a boil, and boil for 30 to 35 minutes.
10. Carefully remove the jars from the canning pot and place on towels on the counter watching to make sure that the lids suck in and make a popping noise. Depression in the lid ensures that the canning process has completed and the jars have a sterilized vacuum.
Canning as Preserving
These processed canned tomatoes can be kept for several years unrefrigerated. Just make sure when you go to open the lid that the lid is depressed and sealed and hard to remove.
The canned fresh garden tomatoes are used for sauce throughout the fall and winter months.
They can be used for chili or homemade Italian spaghetti sauce. You can add to the sauce, browned ground beef for meat sauce, meatballs or sausage. The Buonpane family, these tomatoes are used for a vegetarian spaghetti sauce over pasta.
The Buonpane Vegetarian Spaghetti Sauce
- In a large sauce pan add 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Chopped one medium onion and add to the pot along with one green and/or red pepper.
- After the peppers and onions have softened add 1 to 2 cloves of chopped garlic, a tablespoon of dried basil and a tablespoon of dried oregano. The longer you cook the onions, peppers, garlic, and herbs, the better the sauce tastes and some of our family members even like this a little burnt.
- When you are satisfied with the sautéed vegetables, add 1 to 2 jars of the homemade canned stewed tomatoes.
- Add one can of tomato paste, along with a little salt and pepper. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
- (You can enhance your sauce with 1 tablespoon of beef bowl Jan crystals and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, depending on your taste. The same sauce can have cooked sausage added to it and cooked and or cooked meatballs. However, these changes make it not vegetarian)
Jim’s Sister Anita’s Memories of the Garden and Canning:
“Memories of the Garden
My dad digging for days to break the soil down to the right consistency. Then he would take a small rake and break up the clumps that were left. The soil was brought to a fine particle dirt consistency and then the planting began. The bigger garden always consisted of Roma tomatoes, peppers, and a few beefsteak or big boy tomato plants. The smaller garden was planted with several types of lettuce with some arugula.
Memories of Canning
My mom and dad purchased bushels of tomatoes for canning at the local farmers market so that they could supplement what they grew in their garden and produce an adequate supply of canned tomatoes for the next year. They brought the tomatoes home and carefully placed them in the sink to be blanched with boiling water. I have memories of my mom carefully warning us to stay away while she was pouring the boiling water over the tomatoes. The blanching process was short and helped to start the tomato skinning process. My sister and I helped my mom to fully skin all of the tomatoes and my mom would cut the tomatoes up for the canning kettle. When the kettle was full, it was placed on the stove to cook down for several hours. While the tomatoes were cooking, the mason jars, rubber rings, and lids were in another kettle boiling as part of the sanitation process. When the tomatoes were ready, they were ladled into the mason jars, the rims of the mason jars wiped clean and the rubber ring and kids placed. The final step of fully tightening the mason jar lids was completed by my dad so that they were air tight and there would be no possibility of any contamination.”
I hope you find the time to experiment with canning tomatoes from your garden or ones from the local farmers market.
What family cooking traditions are you passing on to your Children?