I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend! I spent mine on my parents’ couch watching the new Cinderella and Malificent, and snuggling my sister’s birthday puppy. My brothers also brought me a Seven Layer Burrito and my sister gave me a manicure. Yes, I know that it wasn’t my birthday, but I was super pampered and loved on. It was just what my burned out little heart needed. I’m home now, and I already miss everyone. I’m counting down the days until my next visit!
Back to the grind, which means not letting the remainder of our tomatoes and peppers go bad. Every time canning season rolls around in our household, I look forward to gazing proudly upon my fully stocked pantry. I imagine it to be a sight that Ma from Little House on the Prairie would be proud to behold. Before that satisfaction however, comes hard work and a kitchen that looks like crime scene out of Dexter, only with tomatoes. It is fun trying to remove the hardened yellow tomato seeds that have attached themselves to all surrounding surfaces! However, my house smelled amazing during this entire process.
My husband brought home one bushel of tomatoes, and half bushels of sweet peppers and hot peppers from Barber’s Farm – for only $16! We spread out our canning extravaganza over the course of about a week and a half. We figured that this would break things up a bit and keep the experience relatively fun. I also recommend trying to clean as you go along, and that you take turns DJing on Spotify. Make room in your life, and your kitchen for an impromptu dance party. You won’t be sorry. Anyway, I have to say that we are totally those people who cook according to taste and say things like, “use a splash” of this or a “pinch” of that. Isn’t that obnoxious? I am afraid all I can provide for the salsa are vague descriptions. However, for your convenience, we remembered to write down an exact recipe for our hot sauce! Plus, the roasted red peppers are very nearly a recipe. So maybe that makes up for our negligence in other areas?
Last year, we merely diced up all of our ingredients and cooked them on the stove to create a chunky salsa. This year, we decided we wanted a tomato puree base to add diced veggies to. We found that the easiest way to do this was to reserve two quarts of unseasoned tomato puree from our batch of tomato sauce. We quartered our tomatoes and cooked them down on the stove until they were soft. Once they were soft, we strained the excess liquid. We wanted to remove the skins and seeds, so we used the food mill attachment on our kitchen aide stand mixture. We ran the tomatoes through the mill twice. We then chopped up enough onions, sweet peppers and hot peppers to fill up an aluminum tray. These ingredients were all mixed together and simmered on the stove for about an hour. We added a few generous glugs of lime juice, two minced bunches of cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste. We decided to use a hot water bath to seal our jars, just because we have a pot big enough, and just to be safe. Salsa is cool because there really is no right way to make it. Adding fruit or eliminating the base would both be acceptable options. Make the salsa that you want to eat.
We put our outdoor gas grill on high, and roasted 10 whole peppers, turning them over when one side looked blackened. Once the peppers were fully roasted and both sides were blackened, we put the hot peppers into a big pot and replaced the lid. Once the peppers were cool enough to touch, the skins were steamed and easy to peel off. We also removed the stem and seeds. The peppers were all sliced into thin strips. While we sliced, we simmered a mixture of about half a cup of white vinegar, half a cup of apple cider vinegar, and a mixture of lemon and lime juice that equaled about a quarter cup. We minced a few cloves of garlic, and added in those as well. We filled a few jars almost to the top with roasted peppers, and poured in the liquid, leaving about a quarter of an inch of space at the top. We used a chopstick to remove air bubbles from the cans. Because we had a little too much space on top, we topped each off with a little olive oil. These cans were sealed in a hot water bath.
We used seven large tomatoes and twenty-five hot peppers for our hot sauce.
We sliced the tomatoes into about eight pieces each and removed the stems from the peppers. The peppers were cuts into three pieces each. If you need to adjust this recipe- when everything is cut up, there should be an equal pile of peppers and tomatoes. We placed the peppers and tomatoes in a big pot and cooked them on medium heat for about fifteen minutes. That is when they began to look soft. Once they were soft, we turned down the heat and put the lid back on so that the mixture could stew for one hour.
Once the hour was up, the pot was removed from heat and allowed to cool a bit. Once the mixture was cool enough to be handled, we strained only the very thin liquid from the top. We fed the tomatoes and peppers into the food mill twice to create a very thin sauce. Next, we simmered the sauce on the stove and added a quarter cup and two table spoons of white vinegar, two tablespoons of lime juice, and two teaspoons of salt. The sauce was simmered to bring everything back up to temperature, and then we used a funnel to pour our sauce into jars. We got a little over six half pint jars of sauce out of this recipe.
Once again- we used a hot water bath to seal the jars. Here’s how it’s done:
We made sure the rims of our jars were clean, and then placed the lids on them. We filled a large pot with enough boiling water so that the jars were covered by at least an inch of water, and let them boil covered for 20 minutes. The time that you keep jars in a hot water bath varies according to the size of your jars. If you are ever unsure about how long your jars need, refer to a canning book such as the Complete Book of Home Preserving, or look it up online.
I hope that you were able to learn a little bit about the canning process and that you feel inspired to try it for yourself sometime! We are done canning for now…until it’s time to make applesauce!