I use a lot of pureed tomatoes. I’ve never canned tomato chunks because I don’t like stringy cooked tomatoes in my food. Chunks yes, strings no. I use home-canned puree in a lot of different stuff and never really wish I had chunks instead.
Puree takes a LONG time. First, you wash, core, trim and halve/quarter tomatoes. Then you put them in a pot and let them cook until they’re starting to break down. Then you puree/de-peel/de-seed them (I use one of these because of the quantity of tomatoes I can every summer; I used to use a food mill).
Then you have to let the puree reduce on the stove. It takes FOREVER, especially if you are trying to process a lot of tomatoes at a time. This is one of those times when small batches are the way to go–it takes a lot less time for 4 quarts of puree to reduce than 20 quarts. Trust me, for I have failed to learn my lesson for three years in a row.
I canned puree a few times this summer, and the first time I think I must have cut up and cooked down about 40 pounds of tomatoes. I started the project around 11:00 a.m., and didn’t get the tomatoes out of the canner until after 9. This kind of time commitment is so not necessary. Don’t do it!
These tomatoes just about filled a 12 quart stockpot AND an 8 quart stockpot. I eventually put some of the puree in two more pots, so I had four pots’ surface area to help reduce the puree. Ultimately I ended up with NINE pints. Ugh.