CANNING TOMATOES – a kitchen gratitude meditation

Thank you, mother, father, sister/ brother earth, for the gift of the tomato.

Hi there,

The week brought some very anxiety-provoking news about Dom’s health. Dom needs a stent put into one of the arteries in his heart. This unwelcome news came as a total shock. I became very anxious and angry at the universe for delivering this unwanted problem to our doorstep. But I don’t like to live with feelings of anger, and I knew the way to rid myself of these feelings was through gratitude meditation. And, what better place to do a nice, extended gratitude meditation than in my kitchen?

I almost did not “put my tomatoes by” this year because of these feelings, but I decided to use the opportunity to “put up” my tomatoes to soothe my soul.

The meditation started at the farmer’s market when I purchased the tomatoes. I went to pick up the bushel basket and suddenly realized I was no longer strong enough to do this. But a wonderful woman saw my struggle and quickly and quietly brought over 2 boxes. She proceeded to lovingly pack up the tomatoes for me. She looked at each tomato before she put it in the box. When she came to a less than perfect one, she discarded it and replaced it with a better tomato.

Thank you, universe, for reminding me of the goodness of my fellow travelers on this planet.

Very early the next morning, I brought my tomatoes into the kitchen and made myself a cup of coffee. As I looked at those red beauties, I am reminded of the many women who have joined me on canning day.

I send love and gratitude out to my grandmother, who taught me this process of “putting by” and the many women who have come to my kitchen in the past to help with this project.

As I assembled my sturdy mason jars, I am reminded of the many years I have been gifted with the strength and health to perform the task ahead of me.

Thank you for the gift of good health and the strength to be able to perform this task.

As I lower the tomatoes into the boiling water, I smile at their beauty and I am intoxicated by the tomato’s aroma.

Thank you, Father Earth, for sharing the beauty of the tomato whose heady aroma fills my kitchen.

As I peel the tomatoes, I enjoy the revelation of their jewel-toned redness and relish the slippery feeling caressing my hands.

Thank you, Mother Earth, for sharing the sensual experience of peeling the tomato and revealing its further beauty.

As I put water in the enormous pot needed to process the tomatoes, my thoughts lead me to the precarious state of our planet’s natural resources.

Thank you, brother/ sister planet, for the gift of your water. Help me to redouble my efforts to remember your gifts are not endless and should not be squandered.

As I sit quietly with my coffee and listen to the sound of the cicadas singing, I am filled at last with tranquility. When I hear the familiar pop of the canning disc, a smile comes to my face.

Ingredients

  • 1 bushel of Roma (plum) tomatoes
  • 3 cups of lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons of dried Italian seasoning mix

Equipment

  • 12 two quart large mouth mason jars with caps and rings
  • 1 large pot filled with boiling water for skinning tomatoes
  • food processor for chopping tomatoes
  • 1 large colander
  • 1 canning pot
  • canning tongs for lifting jars
  • 1 long skewer for stirring bottled tomatoes to remove air bubbles

Method

  • Put jars, caps, and rings into the dishwasher. Wash and keep warm.
  • Fill a large pot with water. Turn onto high for a rolling boil. Carefully lower the tomatoes into the water. When the skin of the tomato develops a rip remove it from the water and drain in the colander.
  • Peel the tomatoes.
  • Cut the tomatoes into quarters and fill the food processor 3/4 of the way full. Add 1/2 tablespoon of dried Italian seasoning to the tomatoes and roughly chop.
  • Remove a jar from the dishwasher and fill with 1/4 cup lemon juice and the tomatoes in the food processor.
  • Repeat until you have filled 12 jars.
  • Stir the contents of the jars to remove air bubbles and put on caps and rings.
  • Place your jars into the canning pot making sure that they are well covered by water.
  • Put the pot onto a rolling boil.
  • Boil for 35 to 40 minutes.
  • Remove from the water and place on a kitchen towel to cool.
  • You should hear a ping from each jar which will let you know that the jar has been sealed.
  • Reprocess or refrigerate any jar that hasn’t been sealed.

Cooks note: Although the process of canning tomatoes is very labor intensive, you will be rewarded on a cold winter’s day, when the warm sunshine of a summer day embraces your tastebuds.

Postscript: Dom had the procedure last week, and I am happy to report has had a fantastic outcome.

30 responses to “CANNING TOMATOES – a kitchen gratitude meditation”

  1. Canning tomatoes was a yearly event growing up and in my early adult years. Great memories and one of the easier canning jobs. I’m glad all went went with your husbands procedure and especailly glad this was discovered and fixed before anything bad happened. Being grateful can ease a lot of stress.

  2. So glad to hear that Dom is on the mend and everything turned out the way it should be, Bernadette. This is such a beautifully written post and I am sure that those reserved tomatoes taste amazing too. The process maybe labor intensive, but definitely worth all the efforts.

  3. Gratitude is a very powerful thing…as well as a powerful healer…I am so happy to hear Dom’s procedure went well. I love the story of the woman helping you in the farmer’s market, and your description of the process of putting up your tomatoes, a labor of love…

  4. Wow, I’m so happy to know that Dom breezed through his heart procedure. That is such a routine thing anymore, but only for the surgeons! Still a major thing for the patients. I’m sure the concern and anxiety must have been intense for you. What a wonderful way to collect yourself and channel that energy into something that will come back to you again and again this winter. Don’t be surprised if the gratitude bubbles over again each time you open a jar. πŸ’•

  5. Bern, to happy Dom’s procedure went well. I felt the same way when Todd had to get a stent in 2010 – shock, sadness and fear. But that’s another thing to be grateful for – the wonderful doctors and medical technology available to us.

    I loved, loved, loved your gratitude meditation. Simply beautiful!!!

  6. Beautiful post. I accidentally found out I have heart disease earlier this year. Me??? Moi???? I understand how this is a huge slap in the face. Getting old is very interesting. And so are your beautiful canned tomatoes.

  7. Love your tomato gratitude meditation! So often I find myself in the kitchen making something thought-worthy, usually kneading bread.
    So glad Dom is mending. We went through the same thing with my husband last fall, only his main artery was 99% blocked and he had a heart attack. They put the stint in immediately, and told us it was a miracle he survived to have the procedure. He’s doing better now as well, tires easily because of his medication, but we too are feeling some gratitude just about now! πŸ’•

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