My friend Scott and I canned up a case of San Marzano tomatoes yesterday afternoon and it was a cinch! It only took a few hours, happily spent in Scott's lovely kitchen, to produce 18 pints of whole tomatoes (plus a few side projects.)
Like pie crust or fried chicken, canning is one of those simple, classic kitchen skills that today's cooks are often intimidated by. And no wonder: look through almost any article on canning tomatoes and the word botulism appears at least once. But if you follow the procedure carefully, there is really little danger of poisoning yourself and your loved ones. People have been doing this for decades and have lived to tell the tale, so be mindful but try to drop the anxiety and enjoy yourself.
It was great that Scott had a dishwasher to sterlize the jars and a large canning pot on hand, but the most helpful thing we had in the kitchen was each other. Canning is a lot of fun when shared with a good friend, so find another like-minded kitchen geek and go at it!
Here's a few links that helped up out:
Our side projects:
A simple tomato sauce for dinner that night and Amanda Hesser's Tomato Preserves (which is still in it's resting-over-night-stage but my expecatations are high.)