You say tomato, I say tomahto!

Well, this year was my second attempt at having an actual, grown-up garden. Last year, I was about 7 months pregnant, couldn’t barely see my feet, let alone what grew in the garden. Needless to say, this year , it was much easier to focus on gardening! My better half comes from a long line of tomato growers. Everything I know about tomatoes, I’ve learned from him.

This year our garden produced a ton of gorgeous tomatoes of all shapes and sizes. The hardest part about have multiple tomato plants is keeping up with ripe tomatoes. It’s a downright shame to let them go to waste!

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So canning always seemed like one of those difficult tasks. I remember watching our Grammy can tomatoes and boy, that seemed like quite the process! Let me tell you, I sure am glad I decided to give it a try. It was a piece of cake!!!!

I already had quite the collection of mason jars, so I only had to pick up a few things at the store for this endeavor. I bought new lids/rings(lids are not reusable!), a jar grabber, a funnel and some citric acid. If you don’t want to use pre-made citric acid you can use lemon juice. I used all Ball brand canning items!

Step 1: clean and core your tomatoes. You’re also going to take your knife and put an “X” on the bottom. This will make taking the skin off later MUCH easier.

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Step 2: Get a HUGE pot of water starting to boil. This will take foreverrrr! But this is what you will use to sanitize your jars and to boil them after they are full of those hot,luscious tomatoes! You will need to put something at the bottom of the pot because you don’t want to put the jars directly on the bottom. I used a round rack that fit on the bottom, but if you don’t have that you can use a dish towel!

Step 3: Start 2 medium sized pots starting to boil. One will be used to boil tomatoes and one will be used to fill any excess space in the mason jars. You can always use tomato juice, but I chose to use water.

Step 4: In a small pot, put canning lids and fill with water, bring to a boil. Once it’s at a boil turn down the heat to a simmer. Through my little canning adventure I learned that you can only use lids once!

Step 5: Once the mason jars were boiling I started boiling my first batch of tomatoes. Don’t do too many at once, you want that ice water to stay cold! You are going to boil the tomatoes for 1-2 minutes and then blanch them in the cold water. While boiling, i added the citric acid to the jar. Once I was able to touch them comfortably, I started peeling them. The skin literally falls right off. Once all skin and blemishes are off the tomato, put the tomato in a sanitized jar. Repeat until jar is full.

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Step 6: Fill jars with boiled water(or tomato juice), leaving 1/4 inch. Now you have to make sure there aren’t any air bubbles. I found the easiest way to do this was to take a butter knife,gently slid it up and down the inside edges of the jar. When the jar is bubble-less and full, take a lid out of the simmering pan and place on jar. At this point you can put the ring on, but not TOO tightly! Set jar aside on dish towel.

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Step 7: Repeat process until you use all tomatoes. Once all jars are full, lids/rims are on, place jars in large canning pot. Boil for 45 minutes.

Step 8: After the 45 minutes, use your jar grabber and carefully take out the jars. Place on dish towel and let them cool. Once they start too cool you’ll hear them POP as they seal. When they jars are cool to touch, unscrew ring and dry so it doesn’t rust. You can also check the seal at this point, one of 2 ways. You can push down on the lid, it shouldn’t move up/down or you can lightly pull up on lid(if its sealed it won’t move!). If for some reason they don’t seal, there’s a few things you can do. You can try a new lid/reboil OR refrigerate and use within a week. I say reboil! But as long as you get rid of air bubbles and fill with liquid you’re on your way to filling up that pantry!

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Now that I’ve experienced how FUN canning is I want to make jelly next. That definitely seems a little more complex! So stay tuned for that adventure!

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Thanks for reading y’all!!
~*Clare*~

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DIY laundry soap and giveaway!

It’s been almost 6 months that I’ve been making my own laundry detergent and the verdict is in – I LOVE IT! It’s one of the most thrifty changes we’ve made and definitely saves us $$!

The ingredients are easy and the ratios can change. I do equal parts: Arm&Hammer Super Washing Soda, Fels Naptha and Borax. I use1-2 tablespoons per load.

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I’ve read mixed reviews about how “clean” these ingredients are but I dig em. They get my 3 boys clothes clean! My next batch I might use a Castile soap bar instead of the Fels, just for shits and giggles.

Comment below with your fav cleaning tip for your chance to win your own DIY laundry ingredients to make your own! 1 winner will be randomly chosen to receive 1 box each washing soap and Borax and a couple bars Fels Naptha! Don’t forget your email address! Ends 8/12/13!

Today’s snack – Dehydrated strawberries!

Do you own a dehydrator? We picked one up on sale at Cabela’s a few months back and it ROCKS. we bought their 10 tray, rear fan one. Check it out:
Cabela’s 10 tray digital dehydrator! on sale!
We had a bunch of organic strawberries that we weren’t going to eat in time. So today at their peak ripeness we dehydrated them. SO easy!

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-wash strawberries! I read that adding a cup of vinegar to a sink of water helps clean fruits/veggies better but also extends the life of your berries!

-trim stems

-slice with your handy dandy egg slicer! I used my Pampered Chef egg slicer. It cuts them perfectly, saves a ton of time and is easy clean up. If you don’t have an egg slicer I recommend slicing them no more than a 1/4 inch thick.

-at this point I heat up my dehydrator. I set it to 130 degrees for 6 hours. Everyone’s dehydrator is different so I set mine shy of suggested times so I can check on them and adjust the timer. I ended up leaving them in for a total of 9 hours.

-place the strawberries on the trays. Be sure to space them evenly without overlap. Like this:

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By the time I got home from work tonight my tasty morsels were done. You want them to be pliable but not soft and not too hard. 3 pounds yielded approximately 1lb of dried strawberries.
My stash:

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I store most dehydrated fruits/veggies in mason jars. For long term storage I suggest oxygen absorbers. Ours won’t last more than a few days so I store them in the freezer. It keeps them crunchy and is a nice treat on crazy hot days!

xoxo,
Sarah

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