Fire roasted tomatoes and chilies are what make up the bulk of Canned Rotel Style Tomatoes. They can be either mild or spicy, depending on your personal preference. Add a jar of these tomatoes to pasta sauce, chili, casseroles, and even bean dip! The possibilities are endless and the flavour is tremendous! Make a batch with your locally grown, summer-fresh tomatoes and stock your pantry for the winter!
Until recently, it has been challenging to find Rotel-style tomatoes here in Canada. I often stock up on a few cans of them whenever we shop in the United States. But, that wasn’t always frequent enough to keep my stock replenished, so I found a way to make my own. Of course, soon after I started making Canned Rotel Style Tomatoes at home, the store-bought type became more common in our local grocery stores.
But, I still make my own! Why? Because by making my own not only do I save money, because it’s just cheaper in the long run. But, I also know exactly what goes into every jar. I’m using locally grown tomatoes that I have chopped with my own hands. The peppers have been charred by me and I can either add the seeds or keep them out, depending on whether or not I want hot or mild. And, my homemade version has no preservatives at all. Oh, and of course, homemade always tastes better!
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WHY YOU SHOULD PREPARE CANNED ROTEL STYLE TOMATOES AT HOME
You can find canned Rotel tomatoes in most local grocery stores. But, the taste of homemade is much better. When you make your own, you can control the sodium. You also eliminate the use of chemicals and preservatives found in the store-bought variety.
I find that most of the canned diced tomatoes you buy at the store are okay in a pinch. I do use them from time to time, but there’s one thing, particularly that I don’t like about them. Most of the brands leave some of the skin on the tomatoes. I don’t know about you, but I do not care for cooked tomato skins.
The skin doesn’t break down very well at all. If you get a fair-sized piece of it, you’re left with this weird, chewy bit that’s hard to swallow. Take the time to prepare the tomatoes now, you’ll save yourself time and energy when preparing meals later!
ONLY 3 INGREDIENTS!
Here’s the deal. You can prepare this recipe as a small batch or you can make enough to feed an army. It really doesn’t matter how much you make, because the recipe for these tomatoes is not so much a recipe as it is assembly instructions.
You will need tomatoes and chilies – the amount is up to you – and salt and lemon juice. That’s it! I would highly advise that you use roma or plum tomatoes for canning purposes. They are meatier and have less moisture content. When it comes to chilies, you can use jalapenos or poblanos.
Use good salt. Don’t use regular table salt. Most table salt is iodized, which basically means that it’s not pure salt. It has been chemically treated with potassium iodate. I have not put this to the test, but I have read so many times that normal table salt may cloud the liquid in your processed tomatoes. Use good kosher salt or salt clearly labeled preserving salt.
Many canning professionals will tell you that you should use store-bought bottled lemon juice instead of freshly squeezed lemon juice. I have used both, but will only use bottled lemon juice if I’m preserving a large amount for long-term storage.
Fresh lemon juice is fine if you plan to use the tomatoes in a few days. Bottled lemon juice has the perfect amount of acidity, which will guarantee the right levels for your canning needs. Fresh lemons can vary in terms of the amount of acidity. Bottled lemon juice is often cheaper too!
HOW TO PREPARE THE TOMATOES AND THE CHILIES
The instructions that follow are for oven roasting. Begin by preheating your oven to 500 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Wash the tomatoes and chilies well. Cut each tomato in half lengthwise and cut out the top part of the core. Lay the tomatoes cut side down onto the prepared baking sheet. Place in the oven on the middle rack. Broil until the skin is blistered and has blackened. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Continue to do this until all of your tomatoes are blackened. When cooled, I like to use metal tongs to just pinch the top of the tomatoes. The blackened skin will slip right off. Discard the skin and roughly chop the tomatoes. Transfer chopped tomatoes and tomato juice to a large bowl.
Next, it’s time to prepare the jalapenos or poblanos. Do not cut them. Lay them onto a parchment-lined sheet pan and black under the broiler until black. Turn them over and blacken the other side. Once you remove them from the oven, set them aside to cool. Once cooled, the blackened skin can easily be removed and discarded.
Go ahead and chop the chilies well, or slice them in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Only leave the seeds in if you want hot Canned Rotel Style Tomatoes. I remove half and leave half in so that the spiciness of my tomatoes falls somewhere in the middle. Add the chopped chilies to the bowl with the tomatoes. Stir well to combine and set aside until ready to can.
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WATER BATH CANNING VERSUS PRESSURE CANNING
To be perfectly honest, I’m comfortable with both, but most people seem to be more comfortable with water bath canning. That hissing, steaming pressure canner can be quite scary for the inexperienced canner; I get it! Luckily, this recipe is completely safe to use the water bath canning method.
Water bath processing is a method used in home canning for high-acid foods. The jars are filled with food and sealed with a lid. The jars are boiled completely covered in water for a specific amount of time. High-acid foods are items such as jams, jellies, pickles, relishes, salsas, and tomato products.
In contrast, pressure canning uses a pot with a vent and a pressure gauge. The lid is either sealed using clamps or screwed on. This type of canning is used to heat the food in the jars hotter than a boiling water bath method can. Low acid foods must be processed in a pressure canner to be considered safe. That’s probably why pickle-type recipes are the most common canned goods. Pressure canning must be used for anything with meat, beans, etc.
HOW TO WATER BATH CAN
STEP 1: PREPARING THE JARS
Some canners say that if you need to boil the jars longer than 10 minutes, then you don’t need to sterilize the jars. I say no! Canning is not as simple and cheap as frying an egg. It takes time, and an investment if you don’t already have the equipment. Eliminate any risk whatsoever by always sterilizing your jars. It’s easy to do! Wash the jars in hot, soapy water. Rinse the jars well under running water to get rid of any soap residue.
Transfer the jars to a large pot of water. Bring to a boil and boil for 2-3 minutes. Using a jar wrench/lifter, lift the jars out of the water, tilting to pour out the water. Be careful; it’s hot! Stand the jar up onto a baking sheet. Once all of the jars are on the baking sheet, place them into your preheated oven at 200 degrees F. This will keep them hot and away from any contamination.
STEP 2: PREPARING THE SEALS AND RINGS
Mason jars are equipped with three parts. The first is the jar. The second and third parts combine to form the lid. The flat disc with the rubber ring on the bottom is the seal. Finally, the circular part that actually screws onto the jar is called a screw band. Depending on the brand or the recipe you’re reading, the names of these things can vary. But, they all do the same thing.
The screw bands never come in contact with the food, so they do not need to be washed or sterilized. But, because I want to eliminate any risk of contamination, I make sure they’re clean. After all, they have been sitting in a warehouse before they got to the store, and then finally, to me. That’s too many germs for my comfort level! I wash them in hot, soapy water, rinse them well, and transfer them to a bowl until I need them. The sealing disk/sealing ring needs a little more consideration.
If you look at the bottom of the lid, you will see a reddish-brown rubber ring. It’s attached to the lid. This ring has a huge job! It is pretty much in charge of keeping your food safe for long-term storage. Place the lids into a glass bowl. I like to separate them so that they are not all stacked. When I’m ready to ladle the food into the jars, I pour a kettle of boiling water over the lids so that they are sterile and the rubber band softens. That’s it. You have now prepared your jars. Next, we need to get the canner ready!
STEP 3: PREPARING THE CANNER
You can buy a canning pot, but you don’t have to do that. Any stock pot will do just fine. Be sure that the pot is tall enough to hold enough water so that your jars are covered by at least an inch of water. Fill the canning pot accordingly. Also, be sure to insert a canning rack or mat into the bottom of your pot. If you buy a canning pot it will come with one. Otherwise, you can buy them for any pot size. Never let your jars touch the bottom of the pot when boiling. They could easily break. Once you’ve done this, bring the water to a full boil.
In most cases, if you’re new to canning, you might notice some white residue on the jars after all is said and done. This can easily be cleaned off once the jars are cool. A few tablespoons of white vinegar in the boiling water helps to eliminate most of it. I use it every single time.
Lastly, it’s always a good idea to keep a kettle of boiling water close by. Depending on how many jars you need to process, you might have to boil them in batches. You will be surprised at how quickly rapidly boiling water can evaporate. Having a kettle of boiling water will allow you to easily top up the canning pot without altering the temperature of the water.
STEP 4: FILLING THE JARS
Depending on the recipe, filling the jars is quite easy. Having some inexpensive equipment on hand can make this process much easier. Invest in a canning funnel. It will help you ladle the food into the jars without making a mess. Also, it’s imperative to keep the rim of the jar clean to ensure a good seal. You will also need a bubble remover. You can buy these, but I’m not a fan of them. A clean wooden chopstick does the same thing. Removing bubbles will prevent mold from growing.
Lastly, you will need a magnetic lid lifter. Remember how I said the flat sealing lids will be submerged in a bowl of boiling water? Well, you can’t just pick them up with your hands. First of all, it’s hot! Secondly, you will want to eliminate the risk of any contamination. Do not touch the underside of the lid. Period! Using a magnetic lid lifter will allow you to pick up the lid and position it right onto the rim of the jar without ever touching it.
Finally, you will need to screw on the metal screw bands. In most cases, the food in the jars is scalding hot, so you can’t touch the jars to tighten the lids. But, that’s a good thing! You should never over-tighten the lids. Place the screw band over the jar and tighten it with one hand. It should be snug, not tight. Now, that’s it! You’re ready to boil these jars of Canned Rotel Style Tomatoes!
STEP 5: BOILING THE JARS OF FOOD
Carefully lift the jars straight up using a jar wrench/lifter. Lower the jar into the pot of boiling water. Fill the canning pot with jars in this manner. Don’t jam the jars in; leave a little bit of space between the jars. I aim for about a centimeter or a finger’s width. Remember, you can process the jars in batches.
Once the canning pot is loaded, place a lid on the pot, and start your timer according to the recipe you are following. If the water is not at a full boil, do not start timing until it is! When the time is up, use the jar wrench to lift the jars straight up out of the water. Transfer the jars to a flat surface that has been lined with a few layers of kitchen towels. Allow the jars to fully cool – at least 24 hours! Finally, wipe the jars down, label them with contents and date, and store them in a cool, dark cupboard or pantry.
Some people remove the screw bands after the jars have cooled for 24 hours. I remove them just to check if there is a good seal. I put them back on once I’ve checked. It’s up to you if you want to leave them off. If you notice that a jar has not sealed, you can either discard it, or refrigerate it for immediate consumption. Only do so if you are 100% sure the food has not been compromised and that it is safe to eat.
STORING CANNED ROTEL STYLE TOMATOES
Once you have safely removed the jars of processed Canned Rotel Style Tomatoes from the canner, and they have cooled completely, it’s time to store them.
Storing properly is just as important as every step you take to ensure your efforts are safe and sterile. The first thing I like to do is wash the jars. Sometimes, the jars will be covered with residue from the boiling process. This is normal and will depend on your water source. If I can in our city apartment, the jars are not too cloudy at all. But, at our home in the country where we use well water, the jars will have a chalky, white residue on the outside.
You can wash the jars under warm running water with a little bit of dish detergent. Dry the jars well with a clean towel. Next, it’s important to label them properly. Trust me – if you fall in love with canning, you’ll come to rely on labels. In the beginning, I could easily mistake a jar of canned tomatoes with a jar of salsa or a jar of sauce!
Your label should include the name of the recipe and the date you made it. Store the jars in a cool, dark place. You don’t need to push them all to the back of the corner in your unfinished basement! Any pantry or cabinet will do as long as it’s not directly above a heat source. I store mine in a built-in pantry under the stairs. Just keep them cool and away from direct light to prolong the shelf life.
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Canned Rotel Style Tomatoes
- 16 500 ml mason jars with screw bands and new, unused sealing discs.
- Pressure Canner
- Jar Wrench/Lifter
- Canning Funnel
- Non-metallic Bubble Remover
- Magnetic Lid Lifter
- 42 pounds plum (roma) tomatoes
- 16 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
- 8 teaspoons salt
- 16 large jalapenos (or 8 poblanos)
To Prepare Mason Jars:
- Wash mason jars and screw lids in soapy water and rinse soap off well under running hot water. Place clean jars on a baking sheet and place in oven preheated to 200 degrees. Set screw bands aside. Next, boil a kettle of water and pour into a clean glass bowl. Carefully submerge the sealing discs in the bowl of hot water. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees F Broil. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Wash the tomatoes and chilies well. Cut each tomato in half lengthwise and cut out the top part of the core. Lay the tomatoes cut side down onto the prepared baking sheet. Place in the oven on the middle rack. Broil until the skin is blistered and has blackened. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Continue to do this until all of your tomatoes are blackened. When cooled, I like to use metal tongs to just pinch the top of the tomatoes. The blackened skin will slip right off. Discard the skin and roughly chop the tomatoes. Transfer chopped tomatoes and tomato juice to a large bowl.
- Next, prepare the jalapenos or poblanos. Do not cut them. Lay them onto a parchment-lined sheet pan and black under the broiler until black. Turn them over and blacken the other side. Once you remove them from the oven, set them aside to cool. Once cooled, the blackened skin can easily be removed and discarded. Go ahead and chop the chilies well, or slice them in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Only leave the seeds in if you want hot Canned Rotel Style Tomatoes. I remove half and leave half in so that the spiciness of my tomatoes falls somewhere in the middle. Add the chopped chilies to the bowl with the tomatoes. Stir well to combine and set aside until ready to can.
- Fill your waterbath canner just over half full with water. Remember, you will want the water to cover the filled jars by at least one inch when you start to process. Bring water to a full boil now so that it is ready to go after you've filled the jars.
- Remove the sterilized jars from the oven and add one tablespoon of bottled lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each jar.
- Ladle the tomato and chili mixture into prepared mason jars using a funnel to prevent the mixture from touching the rim of the jars. Really pack them in tightly, pushing the tomatoes down into the jar with a clean spoon.
- Wipe down the rim of each jar with a damp paper towel to ensure none of the tomatoes have come in contact with the rim.
- Carefully remove the sealing discs from the hot water with a magnetic lid lifter. Position the sealing disc directly onto the lid of the jars. Do not touch the underside of the lid.
- Screw on the screw bands until firm – do not apply pressure! Just use your fingertips to tighten the screw bands.
- Using the jar lifter, place the jars into the canner and place the lid on.
- With the lid on the pot, boil the jars for 10 minutes. Do not time the boiling until the water has come to a full boil.
- Carefully remove each jar from the canner using the jar lifter. Do not tilt the jars or try to wipe them dry. Place jars onto a wire cooling rack that has been covered with a clean kitchen towel.
- Leave the jars to cool for a minimum of 12 hours. Once cooled, wipe the jars of any residue that might have been transferred to the outside of the jar during the boiling process. Label the jars and store in a dark, cool cabinet.
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