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  #1  
Old 07/10/11, 11:29 PM
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Canning tomatoes with vinegar instead of lemon juice?

Hi all! My husband has recently developed an allergy to citrus oil, which I noted is an ingredient in bottled lemon juice. All of my canning recipes for tomatoes call for lemon juice to be added to the jars. I was wondering if anyone has canned tomatoes with vinegar instead of lemon juice, and if so how did it effect your finished product?

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  #2  
Old 07/11/11, 01:03 AM
 
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They taste like vinegar. Not very appealing in spaghetti sauce or something. You would use 4 T. vinegar 5% acidity to each quart. That is a 1/4 cup, so you can see how it would flavor them. Citric acid crystals are out ? Bottled lemon juice or citric acid crystals are the safe recommended things to use.

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  #3  
Old 07/11/11, 08:53 AM
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Could you pressure can them and leave out the lemon?

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  #4  
Old 07/11/11, 12:56 PM
 
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You still need the acid even when pressure canning unless they are something like stewed tomatoes or some other sauce. Plain tomatoes need the added acid.

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  #5  
Old 07/11/11, 01:02 PM
 
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Do you have a big enough freezer to NOT can things? I've turned completely to freezing things (tomato sauce, etc) this year as I have the room.

A guy at the farmers market told my mom something interesting this last week. She made some comment about the tomatoes he was selling and storing them. He literally laughed about canning - said it was just a way to keep women busy and out of trouble () - and said the same for chopping, blanching, etc for freezing. He takes WHOLE tomatoes (celebrities is what he grows) and just freezes them. When they defrost, the skins just pop off. Then he goes about making whatever he wants with them. We have yet to give it a try but it is top of my list of preserving experiments this year!

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  #6  
Old 07/11/11, 01:33 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madness View Post

A guy at the farmers market told my mom something interesting this last week. She made some comment about the tomatoes he was selling and storing them. He literally laughed about canning - said it was just a way to keep women busy and out of trouble () - and said the same for chopping, blanching, etc for freezing. He takes WHOLE tomatoes (celebrities is what he grows) and just freezes them. When they defrost, the skins just pop off. Then he goes about making whatever he wants with them. We have yet to give it a try but it is top of my list of preserving experiments this year!

Well that's just snotty of him to say. I love being able to open a jar in a pinch before dinner and not have to worry about defrosting them. That being said, I did freeze three gallon sized bags last year of whole ones. The canning got to be too much last summer with me being pregnant. It seems to have worked well, and the skins do come off easier.
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  #7  
Old 07/11/11, 01:57 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madness View Post
He literally laughed about canning - said it was just a way to keep women busy and out of trouble () - and said the same for chopping, blanching, etc for freezing. He takes WHOLE tomatoes (celebrities is what he grows) and just freezes them. When they defrost, the skins just pop off. Then he goes about making whatever he wants with them.
He's wrong about everything ... but the tomatoes. You can freeze them whole -- just wash them, core them, and pop them in the freezer on a cookie sheet until they're solid, then store them in a plastic freezer bag. When you want to use them, run them under warm water and the skins slip right off.
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  #8  
Old 07/11/11, 02:36 PM
 
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Glad to know his method of freezing whole tomatoes works! His comment about women canning was tongue-in-cheek but he was serious that he thinks canning is a waste of time. If I'm going to make tomato sauce though, I'd rather make it and freeze it so I don't have to think about it later!

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  #9  
Old 07/11/11, 03:29 PM
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Thanks for your replies!

Lucy, I had not heard of using the citric acid crystals before, so I think I will look into that! I don't remember seeing it on the shelf before with the canning stuff, but I was never really looking for it before.
Madness, we do have a small chest freezer but were planning on buying part of a cow this fall, so might not be too much room in there. I think I will freeze a few in bags and just kinda flatten them so they stack nicely.

In the past our best tomato sauces have been made with home canned and frozen tomatoes combined. Of course this is all knock on wood & hoping that we get a good tomato crop, we've had rotten (no pun intended) luck with tomatoes in the past few years. Last year we skipped growing them cause we were in the process of relocating. So far so good this year!

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  #10  
Old 07/11/11, 07:55 PM
 
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Not all stores have citric acid crystals. Some winemaking shops have it. I order online in bulk.

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  #11  
Old 07/11/11, 08:10 PM
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I'm confused - if you can pressure can low-acid veggies, why can't you pressure can tomatoes without adding more acid?

If the answer is "you can but no one has developed a recipe doing it that way" I can accept that, but it makes no since that a person may pressure can green beans without adding acid, but can't pressure can tomatoes without adding acid.

BTW- when I'm pressed for time, I will wash and freeze raw tomatoes (no blanching) though I normally cut them in half so they take up less room.

Froze over 200 lbs of roma and italia tomatoes last year. I could fit about 5.5lbs in a gallon zip-lock bag.

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Old 07/12/11, 01:32 AM
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Lucky day! We will be passing a beer and wine supply store this weekend when we travel to visit family! Can you tell me how much to add per jar? We'll probably do quarts and the occasional odd pint.

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  #13  
Old 07/12/11, 07:29 AM
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BTW- I got my citric acid at the health food store. I think I've seen it in the pharmacy section at wallmart too. I don't think I've ever seen it with any canning supplies displays though. My jar says to use one tsp per quart for canning.

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  #14  
Old 07/12/11, 02:37 PM
 
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In all my years of canning tomatoes I have never used lemon juice or citric acid. Just the tomatoes water and a little salt.

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  #15  
Old 07/12/11, 03:13 PM
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The reason we are now all adding lemon juice to tomatoes before canning is a result of seed companies messing with tomatoes over the years. My Grandmother didn't have to add lemon juice in her younger years, just later.. The reason is because tomatoes are not as naturally high in acid as they once were. Farming methods and seed strains changed the old ways.

http://extensionfoodpreservationsafe...s-recipes.html

Quote:
Myth – Tomatoes are high acid and do not require additional acid to safely can in a boiling water canner.
Fact – Modern tomatoes are lower in acid then older varieties. Since the acidity of tomatoes are borderline, so you must take some precautions to can them safely. To assure the safety of tomatoes they must be acidified, whether processed in a boiling water bath or pressure canner. To acidify tomatoes, add 1 tablespoon of bottled lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon citric acid per pint of tomatoes, double this amount for quarts.
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  #16  
Old 07/13/11, 01:24 AM
 
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Originally Posted by wvstuck View Post
The reason we are now all adding lemon juice to tomatoes before canning is a result of seed companies messing with tomatoes over the years. My Grandmother didn't have to add lemon juice in her younger years, just later.. The reason is because tomatoes are not as naturally high in acid as they once were. Farming methods and seed strains changed the old ways.
http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/l...645247923.html

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  #17  
Old 07/13/11, 11:39 AM
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I understand the whole deal about tomatoes not being as acidic as before. What I don't understand is why you can't pressure can them without adding acid, since you don't add acid to any of the other low-acid veggies that are pressure canned.

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Old 07/13/11, 12:37 PM
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Because you pressure can those. Tomatoes on the other hand have had their acidity bred out of them (intentionally - even many heirloom varieties) and nowadays almost all varieties are, at best, 'borderline' acidity. So if you want to water bath them, you have to add acid. If you pressure can them, you don't unless you want that extra acidity in recipes.

I use vinegar and swear you can't taste it!

Martin, I'm curious. Do you know of any varieties that remain with the same acidity?

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Last edited by Karen; 07/13/11 at 12:41 PM.
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  #19  
Old 07/13/11, 02:18 PM
 
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Nothing has been "bred out" of any tomato variety. The pH and Brix remain consistent with the variety from day one. Both can only be changed by creating a new variety. If anyone looked at the chart that I linked to, you would note that some which would be considered acidic are not because the lower Brix. Same time, one which would seem to be low acid are the opposite due to higher Brix. There are low acid, high Brix commercial hybrid varieties created for specific products but most would not be available to home gardeners. Anyone who has grown Riesentraube knows that it's been around for many years and is really sweet. But it's pH is 4.50. Abraham Lincoln has been around for almost 100 years and considered a good canner and definitely not sweet. It's pH is 4.45. Amish Paste makes a nice sweet sauce but its pH is 4.68.

For that matter, what is the pH figure to determine acidic or alkaline products for canning purposes? Ball Blue Book gives no definitely pH and their chart divides at about 4.5. On the tomato chart, the bulk of the varieties listed are from 4.40 and up to 4.76. Until one can come up with an exact black & white, go/no-go pH level, I'm going to assume that somewhere just below 5.0 is the where it is. Inasmuch as I don't have a very accurate pH meter, and if the instructions call for increasing the pH of whatever I'm canning, I'm going to continue doing it in accordance with the tested and approved guidelines.

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Old 07/14/11, 02:04 PM
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Here's a chart showing the PH breakdown for waterbath vs pressure:
http://media.photobucket.com/image/c...dchart.gif?o=1

Here's a list of foods and their PH levels:
http://www.pickyourown.org/food_acidity_ph_list.htm

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  #21  
Old 07/14/11, 05:19 PM
 
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Just to make sure I understand the brix numbers in the link posted by Paquebot, the higher the brix number=the higher the sugar content of the product in question?

Therefore, it will mask the acidic taste of the product? And that is why some approved recipes for tomatoes say to add sugar when using vinegar?

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Old 07/14/11, 08:43 PM
 
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Originally Posted by oneokie View Post
Just to make sure I understand the brix numbers in the link posted by Paquebot, the higher the brix number=the higher the sugar content of the product in question?

Therefore, it will mask the acidic taste of the product? And that is why some approved recipes for tomatoes say to add sugar when using vinegar?
That is correct. The higher the Brix rating, the higher the percentage of sugar. And, sugar does indeed mask anything acidic.

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  #23  
Old 07/14/11, 09:34 PM
 
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My suggestion would be to use a good quality red wine vinegar. It's kind of sweet and I often add it to tomato sauce anyway. I like vinegar. As your product sits on the shelf and the flavors marry, the overall flavor may change over time. It might be a good idea to wait to adjust the flavor until you open the jar.

Also, after canning tomato sauce this weekend, I am going with freezing. That was a huge waste of time, electricity (A/C and stovetop), and my energy. I just froze 6 quart bags of squash. I did blanch them. I'm going to start another thread about that. I don't want to hijack this one.

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  #24  
Old 07/15/11, 12:53 AM
 
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Don't know why anyone should have an aversion to using vinegar since a great many recipes call for vinegar. I don't taste it in taco sauce, sloppy Joe sauce, tomatilla salsa, and Annie's salsa but vinegar is standard in those recipes. I do not use it for spaghetti sauce since that is pressure canned. And not in pizza sauce since the sugar allows BWB.

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Old 07/15/11, 01:42 AM
 
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Sugar is not a preservative in any food unless you have about 65% sugar as in a full sugar jam. Otherwise it is only for flavor and perhaps texture. I can't imagine using tomatoes canned with vinegar in my spaghetti sauce or other tomato based casseroles. Just my personal taste.

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Old 07/15/11, 12:42 PM
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But you can't taste the vinegar in it nor more than you can taste the lemon juice.

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Old 07/15/11, 02:51 PM
 
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But you can't taste the vinegar in it nor more than you can taste the lemon juice.
I can definitely taste the difference between vinegar vs. lemon juice. I can't stand salsa made with vinegar -- yuck! I use lime juice.

In spaghetti sauce, small amounts of vinegar are OK, especially red wine vinegar; usually I'll use half red wine vinegar and half lemon juice.

Stuff like barbecue sauce or ketchup, though, vinegar doesn't taste objectionable.
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  #28  
Old 07/15/11, 09:25 PM
 
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I can tell the difference, too. Bottled lemon juice tastes less tart to me. Guess each person would have to see if they like the vinegar or not.

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  #29  
Old 07/15/11, 09:35 PM
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I like the vinegar taste also. And of course you could pressure can them without adding any vinegar or lemon juice, just use the proper time and pressure...

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  #30  
Old 07/16/11, 02:51 AM
 
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You still need the bottled lemon juice, citric acid, or vinegar, even if you pressure can if you are canning plain tomatoes. That is the problem, there is no proper time for canning them without the added acid.

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