Picture your Grandma’s basement. Great wasn’t it? Chock-full of discovery. The way it smelled like old books and powder detergent and could keep you entertained for hours. Grandma Doris’ basement didn’t disappoint. Not only did she have a swing (translation: old piece of wood tied to a rope) hanging from the rafters, but it’s also where she kept her canned vegetable collection – the secret to her lick-your-fingers cooking. Plenty of her favorite recipes called for fresh vegetables and no matter the time of year, she never had to go further than down her stairs.
This tradition of canning using the “Water Bath Method” was passed on to our Dad and just so happens to be the secret to the best chili you’ve ever had. We promise. We’ll share that recipe in a minute – but first let’s start with the canning process:
Disclaimer: While we are confident in this canning technique, we do not assume responsibility for any illness or infection that may occur from improper sterilization during the canning process. Please use caution – food will spoil if not sealed correctly.
What you’ll need:
- Water bath canner
- 2 large saucepans
- Canning jars, lids
- Fresh tomatoes
- Lemon juice (optional)
- Canning salt
How much will this cost?
- Water bath canning pot with rack – approx. $20 (one time expense)
- Set of 12 pint-sized canning jars – approx. $10 (one time expense)
- Canning salt – approx. $3
Let’s get started!
- STERILIZE – one of us is a nurse, the other has a one year old, if there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s sterilizing and disinfecting. Put all your jars, lids and rings into boiling water in your water bath canner and let that baby bubble.
- TOMATO PREP – Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While you wait, remove the core of the tomatoes (similar to coring an apple) and poke a few holes into the skin. **You’ll also want to cut out any imperfections or bad spots. This may sound like common sense, but you “can”not can rotten tomatoes.
3. BOIL – add tomatoes to boiling water. They should boil until skin can be pinched and easily removed. About 3 minutes.
4. REMOVE tomatoes from boiling water to cool. Skin will peel off when tomatoes are properly cooked. To peel, pinch tomato and peel skin back. It is that easy! (Be sure we are skinning with clean hands of course!)
5. REMOVE sterilized jars after about 7 minutes. We like to do this with tongs to avoid contamination and burns.
6. SALT: If you are using pint jars as we did, you will now add ½ tsp of salt into the bottom of the jar.
7. CUT tomatoes into quarters and place into prepared jar. You will want to smoosh the tomatoes down as you place them into the jar to get rid of any air bubbles.
8. LEAVE ½ inch of room at the top of the jar for an air seal.
9. WIPE the tops of the jars with a paper towel that has been dipped into boiling water. Use a new paper towel with each jar to remove any juice or germs that may still remain on the jar’s rim. Again, cutting down on any risk of any contamination.
10. PLACE boiling lids on jars. Remove the lids from the boiling water with tongs (that have been dipped in boiling water of course) and place on jars.
11. NEXT, screw on the canning lids hand-tight. No need to sterilize these but if you’re extra cautious, proceed.
12. SWIRL the now fully assembled jars into your saucepan, full of boiling water. This slowly introduces the jars to the temperature change to avoid any cracking glass. Repeat with all jars. Jars should be completely submerged with lids pointing up.
13. SLOW BOIL all of the submerged jars for 25-30 minutes (with the lid on the pot).
14. REMOVE the jars after 30 minutes of boiling. We like to place our jars on a towel, again, to avoid any cracking due to a cool countertop and hot jars.
15. LISTEN for a “pop!” (if you don’t hear a pop, the jar is not properly sealed) and your fresh summer tomatoes are now on stand-by for your fall chili craving!
And now for that chili recipe we promised you …
- 1 lb ground chuck, browned and drained
- 2 cans tomatoes, diced and drained
- 1 can red kidney beans (we like the low sodium option), drained
- 1 packet French’s Chili-O Chili Seasoning
- 1 box elbow macaroni (optional)
- 1 bag shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
- Oyster crackers (optional)
Brown ground chuck in a skillet, then remove from pan to drain grease. Add ground chuck, tomatoes, beans and 3/4 – 1 chili seasoning packet to a large pot and stir. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Serve over cooked elbow macaroni or by itself – topping off the chili with a handful of oyster crackers and a heap of shredded cheese and devour.