easy crock pot tomato paste

i hate canning.  i know i know, i’m supposed to be into it cause i’m all like into growing my own food and cooking and stuff like that, but i hate canning.

i feel a lot better now having gotten that out.

one of ma and i’s really serious fights was in late august while we were trying to can a ton of tomatoes and we had 4 pots of water boiling on the stove, it was hot as hell out, we were both tired and felt rushed.  i keep that memory in my mind when someone talks about canning.

part of the reason i’ve come to hate canning is because i’ve always been under the impression that if you are canning you have to can a lot of stuff, like 3o quarts of tomatoes at a time.  and then you have gone though all this work to can all this food you feel like maybe you should save them for a special occasion.  i stare at all the canned goods in the larder rationing them out, thinking i don’t want to peak to early, what if nuclear winter comes this year.   then  i feel like because so much work went into them they should taste really good, but well, they are just canned tomatoes, how good can they be?

two things in the last couple of years have made me rethink my canning hatred: small batches and hot packing.

the hot packing was introduced to us when we had an audit of our jam making methods by a professional jam maker from northern michigan. they pointed out that hot packing rather than hot water bath processing would make much more sense for us.  and i can’t begin to tell you what a relief it was and how much easier i find it.

small batches was ma’s innovation, cause she is not nearly so stubborn as i.  the concept is simple – you don’t want to eat a lot of the same thing, and canning big batches is big work, so stress less, eat more variety and go small batch.  no need to fill up a whole canner worth of stuff if you don’t want that.

tomato paste works perfect for hot packing and small batches, as it is plenty high in acid and you want a small batch.  ma had been saving up tomatoes from the garden and throwing them in the freezer.  this was especially good foresight as her bout with pneumonia made it very hard to do any canning and with the tomatoes safely in the freezer there was no real rush.

after pulling the tomatoes out of the freezer we put them on a cookie sheet with whole cloves of garlic, drizzled with olive oil and kosher salt, put them in an oven at 400° for about an hour and a half.  the roasting adds more complexity to the flavor cameralized some of the sugars and adding some roasty favor.  with that done they go though the food mill to remove seeds and skins and then dumped in the crock pot.

in the crook pot on high with the lid off they can take a day or so to cook down and remove moisture.  stir every so often, like in the middle of the night when you get up to use the bathroom (make sure to wash yr hands), and once it gets to the right consistency put it on low and put the cover on.

with the sauce hot and ready, put your clean jars (we use 1/4 pints) in the oven at  250° for 15 minutes to sanitize.  while they are heating up, put a pan of water on to boil, clean off yr work area, put down a clean towel, sanitize a ladle by putting it in boiling water and move yr crock pot over to yr work area.

it’s party time – gonna have to work fast.

take the jars out of the oven.  take the ladle out of the water.  use the ladle to fill the jars up to about a 1/4 inch to the rim.  dip the new lids in the boiling water, put them on the top of the jar, screw on the ring down pretty tight and move on until you have them all filled.

when they are all filled, start flipping them over, so the top is down and leave them for four minutes.  them flip them upright.  if they leak as you can see the one in the lower right hand corner of this photo did, no big deal.  take the lid off, dip a clean rag in boiling water, clean everything off, dip the lid in hot water, screw the lid on, flip for four minutes, and flip back upright.

once they are flipped upright wait until they are cool to move them to the larder. they should all be well sealed, if not use immediately.  and don’t forgot to label and date them!

11 responses to “easy crock pot tomato paste

  1. Wow! You’ve got so many bottles filled up… Looking awesome and I really love home made tomato paste – I prefer it to the ready made sauces. Great article. I’ve just bookmarked this blog – Thanks for the great post

  2. who gets a jam audit, really?

  3. That sounds like a great idea, and less work in the end..I’d rather have my own tomato sauce any day.

  4. i wonder, how did you learn this method? it sounds like an old timey thing my gramma did that turned out not to be completely safe. is this from your extension service? how can i learn more about this and what foods it is safe for?

    • it is an older method. one that some folks don’t think is a good choice. but I have had good results. some folks think that you still need a hot water bath canning too, and for a lot of products I would agree, but this tomato paste is very acidic, and has been cooking for almost 24 hours. I wouldn’t do it with most products.

  5. This is an old timer method and not recommended anymore. I have been canning jam for 40 years and totally enjoy the work involved. Boiling bath’s don’t add any work to the process, slipping the jars in, doing some clean up taking them out and listening to the lids pop is a good end to the days work!
    I have done some research into canning and the Amish will do small batches, whatever is ripe. And not just a batch of one kind of vegetable. The canner might have jars of tomatoes, beans, etc. I think a few days helping in one of their kitchens would be very interesting.

  6. i certainly do mixed batches, but they need to be fruits that can cook for the same amount of time. or else you must can for the time required by the longest item. that might turn something that only needs a few minutes into mush. apricots come to mind there. you can help that a bit by using a heavy sugar syrup on the fragile fruit. if you want light syrups, can in separate batches. marcia mentioned amish mixed batch with tomatoes and beans. i hope that’s an example off the top of her head and not a real-life example. beans, whether snap green beans, shelly beans or dry, need pressure canning.
    it does not often happen, but botulism is deadly. the spores live in the soil. our food is grown in soil. the nasty stuff grows anaerobically, that is without oxygen. canned food is an ideal medium. pressure canning brings the temp up far enough to kill the spores. botilism poisoning doesn’t happen often. but it does happen. and you may see or smell nothing.
    generally, i can for people i like. i would not do anything that could kill them. if i couldn’t pressure can, i would freeze or dry, which i do some of anyway.

  7. I like to freeze my tomato paste in ice trays. Then put them in a Ziploc bag and take them out as I need them. Each cube is about two tablespoons.

  8. Pingback: freezer tomato paste | little house on the urban prairie

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