Monday, October 31, 2011

Making and Pressure Canning Tomatillo Salsa

Some dear friends gave me a bag of tomatillos that they grew in their garden.  I knew I loved green sauce but had never made it.
Tomatillos come with a husk that is easy to peel away.

Peeling the husk then soaking in water helps remove the sticky residue that covers the tomatillos.

The husk isn't hard to pull off.

It looks like a green tomato.

The beginning of the sink full of soaking tomatillos.
I roasted them in the oven and froze them (after cooling), till I had some time to make the salsa..
I did make one batch of the salsa and made the best chicken enchiladas I’ve ever eaten. That encouraged me to make the rest into salsa. My friends were so happy that I used them, and didn’t let them go to waste, that they gave me another bag! Now I knew I had a serious batch of salsa to do. So I roasted them as well, and after cooling, froze them. This past Saturday I pulled out all the tomatillos, thawed them and made some yummy salsa.
A full pot of salsa, simmering.
The food processor worked great to blend the salsa to a nice texture.
I used it to chop all the vegetables as well. 
A very full bowl of salsa ready to go into my hot jars. (Sterilized in the oven for 20 min at 250)
 The 23 Qt pressure canner ready to work. It fit all 14 jars. It's ok to stack jars in this tall canner. I'm ordering another metal plate to make stacking easier next year.

Beautiful Tomatillo Salsa Verde cooling. You can see some of the Tattler Re-useable canning lids in front.

 I looked at several recipes, and then decided to put my own recipe together. Making the most of what I had without a trip to the store, helped form this recipe. I’ll include it here but keep in mind that you can play with the recipe to suit your tastes.

Here is the first recipe I used. It turned out really yummy.

Here is the recipe I used for Pressure Canning.

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

      20 c. of tomatillos, roasted
      2 c. mild peppers, (red, orange and yellow) chopped
      2 hatch chilies, chopped
6 c. onions, chopped
2 c. lemon and lime juice
      24 cloves garlic
      4 T cumin
      4 T oregano
      4 T salt
      4 T black pepper
      4 T cilantro

Combine all ingredients in large pot. Cook over low-med heat. It scorches easily so I used a lower heat. Simmer for 20 min.Use a blender or food processor to blend the salsa in batches. I used a food processor so I could achieve the texture I was looking for. I wanted some chunks but not a puree, like the blender might have given me.
Ladle into hot jars, leaving ½ “ head space. Wipe jar rims with a clean cloth dipped in boiling water. Put lids on tight then loosen a small amount, 1/4” (for air to escape during processing). Use the recommended amount of water for your canner.  Process in your canner for 20 min at 15 lbs of pressure. (Everything I’ve canned gets 15 lbs of pressure because we live above 5000 ft.)
Please check your canner book for processing changes, for your altitude.

This recipe yielded 14 pints of salsa.

I've started searching for recipes and ideas for using all this salsa. As a result I think you should experiment! It's good on any meat and gives a hot dog some zing! Yes, we tried this last night. After watching some cooking shows my husband got inspired and suggested we put it and some raw onions on our hot dogs. I was skeptical, but it was really good! Try it in an omelet or as a quick sauce for anything!

I wanted to make a note about the re-useable canning lids I tried this year. The Tattler Canning Lids have been a great investment. They sealed with no problems. I love that I won't have to spend money every year on new lids.  I bought 3 dozen, wide mouth lids to start with. I wanted to try them out before buying all I need. I'm sold. I'll be making a sizable purchase to cover our needs. Here is a link if you haven't heard about these.

I have more tomatoes to can so I'm not done yet. We picked everything in the garden before it froze. We have had our dining room table taken over with ripening tomatoes for a while now. As they ripen I do another batch of sauce. I'm ready to be done. Tired girl walking.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Home Canning in America

  While I was growing up we always had a large garden. For a family of 6 this was a way to provide our family with healthy food at a very small cost. The cost being, new canning lids and our efforts. We had a supply of jars already. I am the oldest of 4 children so I learned early, at the knee of my mother, how to "put up food". She and my Dad came from farm and ranch people who knew how to preserve food in many ways. The goal of the summer and fall was to raise enough produce for a year’s supply, until harvest time the following year.
  In the fall we knew we'd be busy canning and freezing all our produce. Whole days were dedicated to canning fruit and vegetables. If we had a large harvest we would can and freeze for days in a row. I can still see all 4 of us kids at the kitchen table, each with a duty. Mom would keep us on task, demonstrating how to do each action, and man the water bath. We all worked hard. The younger ones peeled off as they wore out. Leaving my mom and I to do the last of it. I loved working side by side with her. She knew so much and I wanted to learn everything.
  I've learned a lot from her. She inspired me to do the same for my family. I've also learned from the many books I own. The Internet has been invaluable to me as well. I've learned so much in the last few years. I've picked up so many skills, really useful skills just by watching videos and reading about what other people have done.
  My parents were raised to also have meat in the freezer. I remember many summers, getting a half beef delivered. It filled up our chest freezer and lasted a long time. My mom loved the thought of only having to buy milk, bread and eggs all winter.
  I remember the year my dad planted Jerusalem artichokes. None of us really liked them. You eat the bulb, which is miss-shaped and hard to peel. They don't have much taste. They kind of took over that garden. Thank goodness dad made a separate garden for them. Every year they would come back even though we didn't want them anymore. We sold that place about 30 years ago. I'll bet there are still some that come up there. Stubborn buggers.
  Dad and mom put in berry vines one year. We got some great jam from them. I still love berry jam and try to make it when I can find cheap berries. Any kind of berries will do.
When I lived in CA we had blackberry and raspberry vines. I used to make a triple berry jam that was to die for. Strawberry, blackberry and black raspberry, OMG it was so good! I've never come close to that jam since then. It was absolutely the best jam I've ever tasted. I lived in Ca for 30 years. Raised my kids to be gardeners just like their mama.
  I've always tried to have a garden as a grown up type person. I'm 51 now so that's a lot of gardens under my belt. When my kids were tiny I started my first compost pile. I simply dug down about 2 ft in a flowerbed in a corner where nothing was growing. I layered my kitchen scraps with dirt from the hole and leaves. It took a few months to fill it up.  I kept moving down the flowerbed, digging the new hole right next to the old one. I left it alone, no turning, no effort and in a year I had black compost to use in my potted plants. It was a shady backyard so no garden there. But the next house we had a great garden. The kids got their own row to tend and loved it. It was their choice to grow what they wanted. Kids tend to want to eat veggie’s they grow themselves, so it's a win-win situation. Now my kids are grown up but don't have kids of their own yet.
Fortunately, my new husband has 2 kids just like me. Kym is his oldest and just had a baby girl 4 months ago and we're very excited to be grandparents. We're very actively involved with babysitting and many trips to bring food the first 3 months. Now we have a granddaughter to spoil, and we are doing just that! I can hardly wait to buy her her first set of child size tools. She has already come out to the garden with grandma to water.
Good times ahead!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Canning Season is Almost Over

   I thought I'd share what I’ve been keeping so busy doing the past couple of months. I've been canning! For the 2 of us I don't need hoards of food, however it does give me great pleasure to see all these canned goods. We know they're organic and safe to eat.
   I made and canned pasta sauce, tomato sauce and chili. Also canned green beans, peaches, chicken soup and chicken stock. I've also been doing lots of freezing. Strawberries, peaches, pineapple, cherries, grapes, bell peppers, broccoli and anything else that's on sale at a good price.

   This past weekend I canned 9 quarts of chicken soup and 10 pints, and a couple pints of broth. It took 3 batches in the pressure canner. Bob got in on the fun and helped chop vege's. We always have fun cooking together. It will be nice to pull out a jar and heat it up after shoveling snow or anytime for that matter.

I got this cabinet from a friend for free. I put it in the craft room and have filled it with canned goods as well as cereal and a few other foods.

  We should have enough chicken soup to last through the cold and flu season. This batch is mild compared to the the "Get Well Soup" that I make for sickie's. It has a lot of onion and garlic as well as herbs to help them get well.

   We ate a jar of peaches last night with our dinner. It was such a sweet treat. After all that canning it felt well deserved. We can eat 1 can every 3 weeks and they'll last till next peach season.  The tomato products should last most of the coming year. My goal was much more for tomatoes but I didn't get the volume I was hoping for. One drawback of crowding plants, it lowers production.
   We got enough to keep me very busy so I'm happy. I did a batch of tomatoes a week until the last 3 weeks when I had to do 2 per week.

   More updates on the garden to come.