If spending a hot day in September standing over a hot stove for hours on end while tomatoes cook down into sauce does not sound like your idea of fun....then have I got news for you. Over the past couple of days I have put up 16 pints and 4 quarts of tomato sauce and my crock pot did all the work!!!
I went to town and ran errands, did some laundry, played with the kids, fixed dinner and the only work I did was lifting a finger to turn the crock pot on and then turning it off. If there ever was a canning hack... this would be it.
So here's how I did it.
I cleaned and sorted 6 pounds of tomatoes. (That's what fit in my 5 quart crock pot.)
I boiled them over medium-high heat for a few minutes, then drained and placed the tomatoes in my food mill with the medium grind. (I choose the blade that was a little bit smaller than if I was doing juice so I could get more pulp out of the tomatoes, but leave the seeds and skin behind.)
Then I poured the tomato mixture into my crock pot, covered and turned on high for 4 hours.
I stirred the mixture once or twice during this period. Then I removed the cover and cooked on low for 4 hours until the volume reduced a little and made for a thicker sauce. (you could keep cooking at this point if you still desired a thicker sauce, but I think this consistency will do well for soups and casseroles.)
Then I prepared my jars for canning by adding 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice to each pint jar, or 2 T. to each quart sized jar.
Fill each jar with the tomato sauce and leave 1 inch of headspace. Check for air bubbles, wipe down the rim, secure the lids and rings and place in the pressure canner.
Once water reached a boil vent steamed for 10 minutes, then closed the vent and continued heating to reach 10 pounds of pressure and process (both pints and quarts) for 10 minutes.
I'm estimating that using my crock pot saved me 2 hours on a hot stove and all the extra heat that would have been put off in my kitchen. My crock pot has the i-stir technology so I didn't have to worry about stirring it, but removing the lid to stir every so often wouldn't have been that bad. And, the 5 quart crock pot was full and would make 6 pints of sauce. I had two crock pots going at once 2 days in a row to make all my sauce. I started cleaning the tomatoes in the morning, then would go about my day once they were in the crock pot and then would can them in the evening after supper done. It was easy and I was really pleased with the consistency of the jar and the way it looks in the jars.