(the title kind of looks like “salmonella”)
Hear ye! Hear ye! I have taken a flying leap into the world of canning, and let me tell you…it’s not as easy as I thought!
I finally made it to the Farmer’s Market this Saturday, and now we are BARELY hanging on to tomato season. So with this in mind, I’ve literally had dreams about getting to the market and having the farmers look at me and slowly start shaking their heads. “Sorry ma’am, you’ll have your chance next year” NOOOOOO. Well, not to worry. While there wasn’t a huge selection, I got all I needed (and more). I spent about $13 on tomatoes, tomatillos, japalenos, peppers, cilantro, and sweet peppers. I’d say they threw in a good $4 or $5 worth of free merchandise. Economies of Scale! “But wait,” you’re asking yourself, “wasn’t Erica going to get a big haul of tomatillos from her mother’s garden?” Well, friend of friends, here is the haul from her garden:
Yowza. AND a few of these items were stolen (in the same fashion as before). But, as I stated, not to worry, because I got everything I needed at the market. OR DID I?
I had envisioned making salsa like I did previously, roasting some veggies to get that nice caramel-y flavor, and mixing it with some fresh veggies and cilantro, taste for salt and sugar, and BOOM, can the goodness and laugh all the way to the bank (i.e. cold winter nights with fresh salsa! Ole!). Well, clearly I had not done enough research because guess what YOU CAN’T CAN FRESH/RAW ITEMS. Also, he pH level has to be at 4.6 or lower for water-bath canning in order to react correctly with the heating to destroy any lingering bacteria. Fun Fact: water has a pH of 7
So how do you make sure the salsa is acidic enough before canning? Well, you have to follow a proven and tested recipe EXACTLY. Too many peppers added may change the acidity, or any other deviation from the recipe can yield ruined results. You also need to boil everything for about 15 minutes before you even put it in the cans and then into the bath. So…no raw. Not even a little. Naturally I started to freak out. I looked through about 17 recipes, and finally settled on this guy:
After frantically looking through recipes upon message boards upon ball jar guides, I decided this one would utilize most of the flavors I want to highlight. I also learned you can substitute peppers for peppers, and tomatoes for tomatillos, AS LONG AS IT’S THE SAME AMOUNT SPECIFIED IN THE RECIPE. I’m sorry, still shaken. So, after a quick trip to the store for some lime juice and tortilla chips, I began the process.
The cans need to boil while everything else is getting prepared, and getting that GIANT pot of water to get hot took…some time. But that’s alright. We roasted the veggies. Tossed them in with cilantro, spices, and a vinegar/lime juice mix, blended it, and simmered it for about 15 minutes.
Well, moment of truth. It’s-a canning time! Now to prepare the jar for insertion.
Well, guess what, after being boiled for a while, those jars are HOT. Also, the water they’re in are HOT and for some reason I wasn’t being as careful as I should have been and bing-bong-boom I have a burned finger. But, small price to pay for a possible canning victory (we’ll know in a few weeks when I want salsa!). And now on to the water bath:
And after CAREFUL tonging of the jars, they were placed on the counter to settle for 12-24 hours (it ended up being about 28 hours…overachieving)
Now that one on the far Left I’m nervous about. You’re supposed to be very careful and exact-measurey about how much space is left between the contents and the top lip of the jar. This was supposed to be about 1/4 in. I didn’t have enough. I FOLLOWED THE RECIPE THOUGH! So that one I’m going to tread lightly as far as ingestion. I’m nervous, but excited.
Well, since I followed the directions PERFECTLY (I hope, god I hope, I did, I’m still freaking out about the possible contamination!) I had/have lots and lots of veggies leftover. So time for Plan A: make fresh salsa!!
I decided to make a half raw and half roasted veggie salsa.
- Cut up variety of veggies (tomatillos, tomatoes, jalapeños, sweet peppers, red onion, white onion)
- Roast at 500 for about 10-15 minutes (until you get a little bit of a char)
- Meanwhile, chop up raw cilantro, red onion, and salt in food processor. Keep chunky. Place mixture in bowl
- Add raw tomatoes and some sugar to food processor. Pulse (again, keep chunky). Now before you add this to the onion mixture, strain most of the tomato liquid out (picture below). Now add to onion/cilantro.
- Let oven veggies cool a bit (who am I kidding, I give it about 90 seconds before I get impatient), and add to food processor. Add some more cilantro because, hey, why not. Pulse until combined (this will be less chunky than the raw veggies since they are already softer). Strain (like the tomatoes), then add to raw veggies.
- Stir. Taste. Add salt/sugar/more cilantro/lime/strawberries. Add some of the tomato/veggie liquid back for desired consistency.
So I often take for granted the use of contact lenses while cutting onions. I normally wear contacts all day, or at least will pop them in when I’m going to the gym, going for a run, or doing something where I have to go out into society. Well today I did not put them in before cooking, so I was stung by that distant yet familiar…sting? Yes. It is still awful. And you know what’s worse? Putting your contacts in for a late evening run AFTER cutting jalapeños and onions all day. Even with multiple hand-washings. No amount of washing is sufficient. I looked really sad.