Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Salsa (nearly) Verde

I love canning. Especially in the fall when it makes the house warm and cozy. I also love that it is a easy way to preserve and share the bounty from the garden, and homemade canned goods can make great Christmas presents-presents that you are done with in October. I had about 6 quarts of green and mostly green tomatoes that I decided needed to become salsa. I used a recipie from Ball as my guideline.

Before we get started, I should share a few notes on safe canning. The USDA will tell you that the only safe canning recipes are found in their canning guide. While I am not going to say they are lying, there are so many canning books and family recipes out there to try that have been canned safely. If you are new to canning, I do recommend you read the USDA guide because it is very through and outlines all of the specific steps you need to take to keep your food safe to eat, including processing times for different altitudes.
That said, I do mess around with recipes, because canning, at it's most basic, is a way to preserve YOUR harvest. I guarantee my Granny never spent a bunch of money on fancy ingredients, she used what she had on hand, but she was safe about it. If you don't want to give the gift of botulism for Christmas, follow these rules.

Safety Rules

  1. You can substitute ingredients as long as you don't change the acidity of the recipie. For example, you can't make mango salsa and process it like tomato salsa. Foods range from acids to bases. Bases require special handling, or they will rot and explode. (It sounds like gunshots in your pantry, and makes a huge mess. Trust me.) Use the closest recipie you can find that matches your ingredients.
  2. Don't mess with preservative ingredients. This includes salt, sugar, and gelatin.
  3. Follow all procedures, especially temperatures, cooking times and processing times, and keep everything clean, clean, clean.
  4. Always use new lids and clean jars.
  5. If a lid doesn't "pop" after processing, you can remove the lid and check the seal for crumbs, and re-process or put it in the fridge to eat within the week, or freeze it. Do not store or eat food in a jar with a bad seal.
  6. Don't eat anything that smells or looks off or suspicious.
  7. Once you open a can, eat the contents within about a week, (jellies sometimes last longer). I like to size the jar to what is reasonable to consume in a week.

Salsa Verde

First I up my jars and lids to simmer on the stove. Then I rough chopped tomatoes, onions and loads of garlic and ran them through the food processor.
I added fresh parsley and green onions from the garden, as well as chili powder, cumin and dried cilantro. The recipie called for jalapeƱos, but I can't handle them without getting Hunan Hands, so I skipped it. It will be a mild salsa, and that's ok for most of the people on my list.
I wish I could preserve it just like this. It is so pretty at this stage. Fresh salsa is the best and so easy.
Following the recipie again, I brought the salsa to a boil, then simmered for 5 minutes.
Then the hot mixture was poured into hot jars, leaving the recomended head space. (Head space is the space between the food and the lid that creates the vacuum seal.)
Check for air bubbles, wipe the rims, put on lids, loosly screw on the rings.
Jars go back into the boiling canning bath for 15 minutes according to the recipie I used. Processing heats the air in the head space, forcing air out. When the jars cool, the air cools and shrinks, creating the vaccum.
Let the jars cool, check all the seals, (dimples should be down) then label. You can carefully remove the rings at this point of you want to add labels or fabric to the top.
Jars run about $10 for 12, or $.83 each, and can be reused indefinitely. I only used what I had I the garden and on hand, so the only cost for this project was jars (I was all out). It took about 2 hours. I made 4 pints for our pantry, and 5 jelly jars for gifting. Not to shabby for a thoughtful homemade gift.
Happy canning!

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