Repetitive tasks appear to be what we must avoid. I remember a college professor telling a story about a writer who worked in a factory, twisting caps on toothpaste, or something equally mundane, day after day, week after week, month after month. Selling poetry is no way to earn a living wage, so poets need to work outside of their own minds in order to be sure there isn’t too much month left at the end of the money. This writer loved his job because the physical monotony of his work allowed his mind to be free to work on poems. He kept a small spiral-bound notebook in his back pocket and pulled it out to write down ideas as they occurred to him. Most of us could not get away with that! We have jobs that require incredible attention to what is in front of us. I think this is part of why I enjoy canning, especially these next couple of weeks when the tomatoes are just going crazy, and all I seem to be doing is cooking, straining, and canning. Canning tomatoes, and canning tomatoes, and canning tomatoes may seem mundane and monotonous, but the task provides the opportunity to be mentally active on one task, like what I am going to be teaching the first week of school, while I am being physically productive preserving tomatoes.
Another reason I love canning tomatoes is because, in a sense, this is where all of this food stuff began for me. Canning tomatoes. It brings me back to my beginning. In a weird way, it’s like looking at pictures of my children when they were infants, a sort of loving nostalgia. And to be quite frank, it isn’t very difficult and you don’t need any special equipment outside of proper canning jars and lids, and a pot that is large enough for the jars to stand upright and have enough water to cover.
Easiest procedure using the least amount of equipment: Cut and core the tomatoes and put them in a pot. Cook over a medium heat until they have reduced in volume by a little over 1/2. So if you start out with 4 quarts of tomatoes, cook them down to 2 quarts. Let them cool a little and puree in a blender, or run a stick blender through them. While the tomatoes are cooking, prepare the jars by boiling them in your boiling water bath, and prepare the lids according to package directions. Ladle prepared tomatoes into jars, adding 1T lemon juice per pint, 2 T lemon juice per quart, affix the lids, and process (20 minutes for pints, 25 minutes for quarts).
If you want to remove the seeds and skins entirely, you will need to run the tomatoes through a sieve, food mill or Squeezo-type extractor.