Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Will be Bad At This

The water should be boiling NOW as I write this, or otherwise there won't be enough time to process these for 40 minutes before I have to leave.

My first attempt at canning.  I started these on Monday and have been boiling water off as I got a chance until this morning.  The tomato-y goodness is about half the volume it was when I started.  After putting the job off for weeks, it became obvious that I was going to have to do something, or miss it entirely.

Do not EVER expect an Industrial Engineer to be good at tasks requiring detail like bring 3 pots of water with different contents up to 180 degrees, etc, etc, etc.  I keep on wanting to make it more efficient!  I think efficiency is the enemy of things like canning and cheesemaking. 

Here's what this efficiency expert did.  Since I didn't have room on the stove for the tomatoes AND the three pots, I took the tomatoes off.  When all the pots were the same temperature, I put the food in the jars and went forward.  However - the temperature was 160 degrees, not 180 degrees as all the references say it should be.  I would have had to wait who knows how much longer if I waited until everything was at 180 degrees.  That is SO not efficient.  I hope I'm not going to kill anyone because I cut that corner!

PS - I had a job as a lab technician once, when I was getting my ChemE degree.  The job was to run equipment to determine the concentrations of stuff in other stuff.  Every step has to be done perfectly, all the equipment and glassware has to be cleaned perfectly or the measurements will be inaccurate.  Good lab tech = bad Industrial Engineer.  Good Industrial Engineer = bad lab tech.  I learned this in about 1991 - so I've known for years that I'll be bad at detailed chores where every step has to be done perfectly.

PPS - Not one to miss an opportunity to do an engineer-y thing, I checked the thermometer after the water started to boil.  Either my water boils at 205 degrees, or the thermometer is off.  A distressing way to start the day.


  1. You are definitely over-thinking this. I cook the tomatoes down until they look right and are at a steady simmer. I put my jars in the canner and bring the canner to the steamy point. Then I take my jars out, put them upside down to drain, fill with tomatoes, get air bubbles out, wipe rims, put lids on (that have been in a small pan of hot water), tighten rings, put jars in canner and bring to boil then time. Not a thermometer in sight.

  2. The only time I've ever seen a reference to keeping the temp @ 180 is if you're doing low-temp pasteurization, which is usually done with cucumber pickles to keep them from getting too mushy. Tomatoes and tomato sauce should be fine at a rolling boil, no thermometers necessary!

  3. That's so funny! Both the Ball Blue Book and the insert that came with the pot say to heat the jars and lids to 180 degrees before you add the food. Honest, I didn't make it up! I'm SO glad that both of you don't do that. Chalk one more thing up the beginner not knowing what's important and what's not.

    As far as the boiling temp - I knew that was fine, but since the *definition* of boiling temp is 212 (people calibrate their thermometers to it), it probably means my thermometer is off. ie, my thermometer may be off when I make other things where temp is more important.

  4. My Two grandmothers and my mother never even water bath canned tomatoes. They just cooked tomatoes down, put in hot jars, put lids on and done. Everybody survived and none ever went bad. Those canning books will scare the pants off you. I do water bath my tomatoes but only for about 20 minutes. Also never had one go bad and all seal.