Canning tomatoes with vinegar instead of lemon juice?

Discussion in 'Preserving the Harvest' started by blynn, Jul 11, 2011.

  1. blynn

    blynn Well-Known Member

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    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?
     
  2. Lucy

    Lucy Well-Known Member

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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.
     

  3. Macybaby

    Macybaby I love South Dakota Supporter

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    Could you pressure can them and leave out the lemon?
     
  4. Lucy

    Lucy Well-Known Member

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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.
     
  5. madness

    madness Well-Known Member

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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 :)shocked:) - 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!
     
  6. plath

    plath Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  7. Gladrags

    Gladrags Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  8. madness

    madness Well-Known Member

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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!
     
  9. blynn

    blynn Well-Known Member

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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!
     
  10. Lucy

    Lucy Well-Known Member

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    Not all stores have citric acid crystals. Some winemaking shops have it. I order online in bulk.
     
  11. Macybaby

    Macybaby I love South Dakota Supporter

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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.
     
  12. blynn

    blynn Well-Known Member

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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.
     
  13. Macybaby

    Macybaby I love South Dakota Supporter

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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.
     
  14. prairiedog

    prairiedog Well-Known Member Supporter

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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.
     
  15. wvstuck

    wvstuck Mountaineers are free

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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://extensionfoodpreservationsafety.blogspot.com/2010/04/food-preservation-myths-recipes.html

     
  16. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/tomato/msg081645247923.html

    Martin
     
  17. Macybaby

    Macybaby I love South Dakota Supporter

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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.
     
  18. Karen

    Karen Well-Known Member Supporter

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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?
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
  19. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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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.

    Martin
     
  20. Karen

    Karen Well-Known Member Supporter

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