There are *many* variations on how to preserve tomatoes, this is how we do it using the fowler vacola system. If you have a better way, we’re very happy to hear about it :-).
We don’t have enough space to grow all the tomatoes we would like to preserve in our garden as we prioritise growing a diverse range of crops, meaning the tomatoes we do grow are for eating fresh only. So when Autumn comes around we buy a big stash of tomoatoes from a local grower (it’s different every year). This year, I got a little carried away and bought 60kgs worth – cause being able to crack open a jar of tomatoes in the middle of winter or spring is one of the better things in life. I have my priorities right.
First step in the whole process is get a mate (or mates) over and start chopping – it’s a great way to catch up with dear friends.
The second step involved us realising/remembering we could just use the fancy food processer my sister recently passed on to me. While a bit noisy, this was infinitely quicker – we loved it.
Because our tomatoes were a bit on the funky side, we chose to put them in a large pot and bring them to the boil.
If you’re using fresh tomatoes you don’t have to cook them before putting them into the jar. You can chop or whiz them up and place them directly into the jar you’re storing them in. You can see how our friends over at Milkwood do it here.
After we had bought it to the boil, we took it off the heat, let it cool down (so it was easy to handle) and filled the jars. Importantly, it’s recommended to add citric acid, lemon juice or vinegar to each jar – approx. one tablespoon each. Acidifying all tomatoes is recommended because it allows for safe processing and eating.
Then the lid goes on! The fowler vacola systems includes putting a thick rubber preserving ring on the glass rim, then the metal lid and finally the two clips to keep it all together. Turns out, you only need one – but I’m always a little paranoid!
Once you’ve filled your jars, put them in a large pot. We happen to have a fowler vacola pot (from the op shop), it has an inbuilt false floor so the glass jars aren’t directly touching the bottom of the pot. If you don’t have one, you can use any large pot – in the past I’ve put a whole bunch of cutlery on the bottom of the pot to act as a false floor and sat the jars on top of them – this works fine.
Once the jars are all tucked in, fill the pot up with water to around 3/4 of the jar’s height. Then bring it to the boil on the stove. Once boiling, turn the heat down to a healthy simmer for around 60 minutes.
After this you’re finished! Take them out of the pot and keep the clamps on for another 12 hours or so to make sure the heat seal has worked.
Remove the clips and add them to your shelves/pantry/kitchen cupboards. Only once our pantry shelves are full do we feel like we can enter winter with our heads held high.
And I’ll just leave you with a photo of our daughter with one of our home grown toms (unknown variety), because – well, love.
This blog was updated in March 2022