I began this journey with tomatoes.
LOTS of tomatoes! My Grandaddy provided all of the red ones. We grew these little yellow beauties!
They're called Yellow Jelly Beans, a sweet variety of grape tomato that I am still gathering in mass quantities, sometimes up to 50 a day. You may notice the "x" marks at the bottom of each tomato above and below.
I do this because I have to prepare the tomatoes. I take out the cores, any "bad" spots and bruises, and then I mark the bottoms with an "x". This helps me when I take the skins off. From this point I quickly blanch the tomatoes and then submerse them into an ice bath. The "x" lets the steam and hot water get under the skin so that I can slip it right off after the blanching process. The comes the jars.
It doesn't HAVE to be a Ball jar. It could be a Kerr. It could be a Mason. There may be another brand but I don't know about it. However, what is more iconic than a glass jar. They are used for more than home canning. Some people drink out of them. Some restaurants use them as their primary drink vessel. Then again, so do moonshiners. Not that I've ever drank moonshine or know where I might be able to find it or know people who may have made it. Not me. Not ever.
So after preparing the jars, making sure they are clean and sanitary, I stuff all of the tomatoes I can into each jar with some salt and citric acid while leaving proper head room. If you need a technical description of head room please refer to the book I recommended earlier. The end up looking kind of like this.
All of those red tomatoes filled up 5 quart sized jars. All of those yellow tomatoes filled that one little half pint jar. Amazing, huh? They'll be spectacular when the weather gets cold and I have no options for home grown delicious flavor packed tomatoes. Then I follow the instructions in the book to process them. For water bath canning it takes approximately 90 minutes in boiling water. Believe me, it warms the house up. It's a shame you can't can in the winter. I suggest having some lemonade nearby during this process. It helps cool you down. The upside is, if you need a facial, just peek in on the jars. The steam does wonders. Anyway, this is what they look like when they come out.
Then you wait. Within 10 minutes you will start to hear the most glorious noise. Pop, Ping, Pop. Those are the seals. As the jars cool on the outside, the tomatoes inside are still raging hot. The gap in temperature causes suction and all of the air is forced out and those little seals just suck in and make a wonderful noise. The one you hope for and dream about. Maybe it's not that revolutionary to you but it is to me. Just try it once, you'll share in my joy.
Gross Out Alert and Side Note: To those of you that watch True Blood - look at the red tomato jars. Do they not slightly remind you of the jar of "Talbot remains" that the King of Mississippi carries around? Maybe it's just me.