preserving tomatoes

Mum's Tomato Soup Recipe

Homemade bottled tomato soup was a staple in our house when I was growing up. Big quart jars of the stuff would come out of the wash house and get heated up for warming winter lunches with hot buttered toast and a sprinkling of grated cheese on top - or Mum's cheese puffs if we were lucky.

Homemade Tomato Soup

In late summer the tomato crop ripens and home gardeners need a stash of good recipes for using up the tomato harvest.

Tomato passata or pasta sauce has become very trendy in recent years but when I was a kid it was tomato soup and tomato sauce (the kind you put on sausages in bread) that got made with the bulk of the tomato harvest.

This recipe was given to mum in the 60's by her friend June Neilson and mum still makes it every summer.  I make it now too and I've made a few additions to the original recipe. Whichever version you make - I'm sure you'll love it.

preserving homemade tomato sauce

How to Safely Preserve Tomatoes

You can't just boil up tomatoes and put them in a jar and seal them like you do with peaches or other fruits. Tomatoes don't have enough acid in them to stop botulism forming in the jar.

You can't see botulism or smell it but it can grow in airless low acid environments, like a jar of tomatoes. It is a dangerous toxin that can kill you so you need to take it seriously.

There are only two ways to safely preserve tomatoes:

  1. use a fancy pressure canner that will take the temperature up to 116°C inside the jars.
  2. add acid in your recipes to lower the pH to a safe level of 4.5 or less - this makes it too acidic for botulism to grow.

I actually did purchase a pressure canner and used it a few times to can (bottle) vegetable soups and even herrings. But to be honest it scares me to use it and I find it easier to use the overflow method to fill jars. 

As long as you use a trusted recipe with added acid you can safely preserve tomatoes this way.

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