Come Along On My "Canning Adventure": HOMEMADE SALSA

With all of the tomatoes that continued to pour in from our garden, I was determined not to let one go to waste.  At first I made those yummy Fried Green Tomatoes  and then I made a Rustic Tomato Tart
And then it hit me...I would "can" some of those tomatoes to enjoy later in the year!

Now, "canning" has been a tradition with the women in my family for many years.  I can remember growing up, watching my mother "put up" the fresh vegetables each summer my grandparents would bring her from their huge gardens.  As a matter of fact, I'm not sure we even bought many store bought cans of vegetables during my childhood; the pantry was lined with glass jars.

When I got married and started my own family, there was no time (or so I thought) for planting a garden or canning vegetables.  Keeping up with four children, ages six and under, was a big enough job for me!  However, in the season of life I now find myself, I have come to enjoy gardening and decided to try my hand at canning as well.

As I prepared to can my tomatoes, I searched for a couple of recipes that I thought would fit my family well.  The first one I chose was a SALSA recipe that a relative had given Caitlin:

SALSA RECIPE: (Makes 1/2 gallon)

* 1 whole head of garlic chopped fine
* 2 yellow onions chopped
* 4-5 jalapenos seeded and chopped fine
* 6 T oil
* 6 T white vinegar
* 3 T Accent (used to retain color)
* 3 T salt
* 3 large cans (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes OR 28 oz. fresh tomatoes

Heat together oil, vinegar, salt, Accent and garlic.  Bring to boil.  Take off heat and cool.  In large bowl mix together all ingredients.  Stir until well blended.  Let sit for 2 hours and keep refrigerated (if you are NOT canning).

                        Jars with lids and seals.  I chose half pints because I'm thinking of gift giving.
   Canning Utensil Set.  This is really important since you will be working with hot, sterile items.
             This utensil is used for getting the air out of the jars after you pour the ingredients in.
          This tool has a magnetic tip on it and is used for retrieving the lids out of boiling water.
                  These tongs are used for placing jars in boiling water and taking them out.
                                          This funnel is used to pour ingredients into jars.


Now that you have your recipe and tools to begin the canning process, it is time to prepare your ingredients and jars.
Don't panic!  Some of these ingredients are for another tomato recipe I canned the same day and will share with you next week.  I like to have all my ingredients out before I get started.
                                                   Chop the garlic, onions and jalapenos.
Heat together the oil, vinegar, salt, Accent and garlic and bring to a boil.  Take off the heat and cool.
   If you are using fresh tomatoes, put them in a large pot and bring them to a boil for 1 minute.
Have a sink of ice water prepared to put the boiled tomatoes in afterwards.  This not only cools them off but will also help to shrink the tomato skin for easier removal.  Cut the tops off and peel the tomatoes.
                                                   Put all the crushed tomatoes in a bowl.
                                                        And add your other ingredients.


Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Boil your jars, lids and seals for 5 minutes.  Lay them on a towel to dry off and cool.  Set the jars right side up.
                                                              Pour ingredients into jars.
                                           Get the air out after you pour the salsa in the jars.
 Put the seals and lids on the jars.

Now, you will place the salsa filled jars back into a large pot of boiling water.  Keeping the water 1 inch above the top of the jars and boil for 45 minutes.  I kept another pot of boiling water on the stove as well to pour additional water in the pot to keep the level right.

You will use the tongs to remove the jars from the pot of boiling wast and then listen for the "Pop, Pop, Pop" symphony as each jar lid becomes sealed!
        Leave them sitting there for about 48 hours and then put some cute little labels on them.

Now, that wasn't too difficult, was it?  If you can follow directions, then you too can "put up" some fresh vegetables to be used later in the year!  However, remember that canning is not a "quick" process.  Plan an activity like this on a day when you have nothing else to do.  OH...and if you just want to try the SALSA RECIPE, just make it as written and in a few hours you can be enjoying some pretty AMAZING salsa!

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