That, my friends, was a darned lot of blanching. I will also tell you this: instead of using a billion ice cubes for your water bath, why not use an ice pack? I did and it made things much easier. Especially if your water is running warm, just pop another one in. Ice is a pain.
There were a lot of things I made, and there are many things still left to make. Tomato preserves and tomatillo salsa are two of them. The chipmunks are eating all my husk tomatoes, so that's not happening. I made Fresh Vegetable Salsa from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and Tomato Basil Sauce from Canning and Preserving with Ashley English. I also made a ton of ketchup. And I know a lot of people are making ketchup these days, and I say Kudos! Because it's a long, splattery road, but the rewards are well worth it.
That said, I had a plan to make it easier. And it's nothing no one's done before. But I'd like to toot it on a horn, because I like the idea so much. And it's this: use your crock pot! Or slow cooker! Whatever you call it, just use it. Because then you can just walk away from it while it sloooowly cooks. Or let it cook while you sleep. Even better. And can it up when you want. Just make sure it is fully heated up before you jar the goodness. As a two-year old friend of mine says, "Oh, my goody!"
I used two recipes, one was the Joy of Cooking's Tomato Ketchup recipe, using it for spice and flavoring, and Food In Jars' Slow Cooker Blueberry Butter for measurements and inspiration. I made two batches. The first one was just from JoC, and it was way too much for the pot to handle. It took almost a day to cook and still it is rather thin, but the flavor was just what I look for in a ketchup. I realized I needed to make a smaller batch (ten pints is a bit much, no?), and to make sure I drained it before pureeing it.
8 cups of peeled, drained and puréed tomatoes and one medium yellow onion, diced.
Basically, I blanched the tomatoes to remove the skins. Then I roughly chopped them and drained them in a sieve. Then I pureed them in the food processor. I chose not to food mill it, and the seeds stayed in. I thought this might keep some pectin in for thickness, and also, it was easier. The onions were left in a rough dice, as I intended to use the immersion blender on it in the end.
Into the crock pot on low for six hours. For the first hour, keep the lid on. After that, I propped it with a wooden spoon. The next time I will keep the lid off the entire cooking time. Tomatoes have so much water I do believe they can afford this step. However, as in FiJ's recipe for fruit butter, fruit might suffer.
Then add sugar and spice, take off the lid and put it on high.
2/3 cup of dark brown sugar
A few cloves of peeled garlic
A spice sack: cinnamon stick, bay leaf, black peppercorns, allspice berries, celery seed
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 or 2 teaspoons of salt, to taste
Taste it! Then can it!
Make sure the consistency seems right to you. Remove your spices. Use the immersion blender if you so desire. Then, having prepared for this step before hand, can it. That is, have your jars warmed and sterilized, fill them to 1/2 inch headspace, and process them in a boiling water bath for fifteen minutes. My yield was four pints, plus a little for the fridge.