You say,’tomato’, I say ‘Let’s can-o’

A few weeks ago, I called my friend Big Rig and I told her that if  I didn’t get a box of tomatoes soon, they’d all be gone. And this would be the third year in a row that I haven’t canned a thing other than pickles. Cause I GOTS to have my homemade pickles. Nothing else even comes close.

But then again, nothing else comes close to home-canned ‘maters, either. Even remotely. And especially my favorite: Stewed tomatoes with celery, onion, and bell peppers. Pop the lid and it’s Heaven in a jar. Use it to make stewed okra and ‘maters, soups, chili….you name it, stewed ‘maters are the bomb.

I said, “Well heck, let’s just can together. It goes by faster anyway.” So, we set a plan in motion. BR went and bought four boxes of (mostly) ripe tomatoes and we decided on a date. I showed up late, as always, but in enough time to help her blanch, peel, and puree the last two boxes. (Big Rig is the early bird, and I’m a night owl…thus, by 7am she has a full day’s work done and I’m still drooling on my bedspread.)

At about 2pm, we were all done, and decided to stop at that point and refrigerate the pureed tomatoes in the biggest Tupperware bowls you’ve ever seen. BR’s sons were helping us carry the tomatoes out to the refrigerator in the shop and she told them, “If you drop any of those, we are going to lose it. So DON’T drop it!” I grabbed about a 15 pound bowl full of our day’s work, and headed out the front door. As I stepped off the front porch, Big Rig yelled, “THE WASP! THE WASP IS IN YOUR HAIR!”

Now look, there are a great many things that don’t bother me. Snakes, spiders, June bugs, centipedes…they just don’t bother me. But a wasp AKA “waspis” is a WHOLE ‘NUTHER THING. Especially red wasps. They have a bad attitude, love to terrorize people, and pack a serious punch. After all, they are the reason that I ended up ripping off half of my clothes in my front yard. And here was a giant red wasp all up in my messybun. I picked up the 15 pound bowl of tomatoes to chin-height and did a high-step 1980s aerobic style run all the way to the barn. Without spilling a drop, may I add. I welcome all applause. Thankfully, the waspis decided to fly off, although he later flew all up in Big Rig’s face when I left and he was promptly flattened with a hat.

The next morning, BR texted me and asked if I would mine skipping a day and canning the next. It was like a text from an angel….”YES!” I replied. “PLEASE!” Because frankly, I’m feeling old and even standing for a long time makes my knees and back ache. So the following day, I managed to get to her house before 9 a.m. WITH my children who were FED AND DRESSED, which truly is a miracle. We canned from 8:45am to 4pm, and by the time we were done, we were ready to pass out on the floor on our faces, coated in tomato seeds and skins, with our burned fingers and surrounded by almost 40 pints of stewed yumminess.

And it was worth it. SO worth it. Canning with a friend sure does make the time go by faster, not to mention we get to catch up on our farm woman chat. BR was smart enough to grab some photos of the process from start to finish. Hope you enjoy! I know we will.