The “Food in Jars Mastery Challenge” – July: Hot Pack Preserving

For the July version of the “Food in Jars” challenge, the category was “Hot Pack Preserving.” We don’t have air conditioning in our home, and our garden had a late start this year due to the crazy weather in southwest Minnesota – so I’m cutting it close here with the deadline (it’s 10:42pm on July 31.)  However, I didn’t want to just make something to make something, and I was holding out for something to be ready from the garden.  That didn’t happen, and we were about out of our homemade ketchup anyway (which I make with crushed tomatoes from the grocery store) – so ketchup it was!
Tonight, I used 4 26-ounce cans of the “Happy Harvest” crushed tomatoes from Aldi, and 1 14.5-ounce can of “Hunt’s” diced tomatoes.  The crushed tomatoes are perfect, the diced have seeds (so I was glad I only was using one can of those.)  The total amount of tomatoes I used was equal to 1 gallon, and I used 2.5 cups of vinegar. I ended up with 8 pints!I use a slightly adapted recipe from an old version of Ball canning, and due to the fact that it technically isn’t a ‘current’ recipe, I’m not going to share it here for this purpose.
While I completely agree that you need to follow canning recipes closely and it’s nothing to mess around with, I also know how to do math and look at one safe recipe and its ingredients and adjust another recipe accordingly to suit our tastes while making sure it’s still safe.  I don’t do it often, but in the case of how I make my ketchup, I do it slightly. The other ingredients include sugar, diced onion, celery seed, mustard seed, kosher salt, white pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder.  It is a perfectly safe recipe with plenty of vinegar to the ratio of tomatoes, not to mention the canned tomatoes from the store already have citric acid in them.

Anyway – I brought the tomatoes, onion and spices to a boil for about 30 minutes, then I hit it with an immersion blender to grind all of the onion pieces up and blend it.  Then, I added the vinegar and cooked it on low simmer for about an hour.  Last time I made ketchup, it didn’t get thick enough so I wanted to make sure and cook it long enough this time for it to thicken up.

Once it was thick and I had my jars sterilized and my hot water bath ready to go, I filled 8 pint jars and put them in the boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

While I was waiting for them to process, I quartered 2 pounds of limes and got them salt preserving in a widemouth quart jar.  I did this with key limes in February for the Salt Preserving challenge and we loved them in margaritas and on fish tacos, and we ate them all and need more.  Yum!


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