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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Canning, and more...Canning !

I wonder why we choose to do most of our canning in one weekend every year. But we have done it this way three years in a row ! This year we had to supplement with a trip to the farmers market, so we could stock up for the winter.

This is one of my favorite cooking weekends of the year, however. It reminds me how much I value the flavor of homemade, home-cooked foods, fresh from the garden. And, living in Minnesota, the only way I can enjoy those year round is by canning them. It is really a lost art, so few people really do this anymore, much less really enjoy the process !

So, we made another, larger batch (15 more half pints) of the apple butter with ginger and vanilla...soooo good ! Ray made 5 quarts of his tomato sauce, which was a bushel of roma tomatoes, chopped, processed through the food mill, and then cooked down to a thick sauce. This will be the base for several wonderful batches of pasta sauce over the winter.

While Ray canned the tomato sauce, I got started chopping all of the vegetables for some spicy salsa. I am something of a salsa snob ! I don't like any store bought salsas anymore. I do like some homemade salsa, being more partial to the pico de gallo style than any others. Because, I like it the way I make it! Spicy, with layers of flavors and a variety of textures. I hand chop all of the vegetables (no food processors here !), which include carrots, celery, onions, garlic, cilantro and a variety of sweet and hot peppers. Then, we blanched and peeled a bushel of tomatoes, and chopped about 2/3 of them for the salsa. Here again, when it comes to something like this, there really are not measurements, because it is going to depend on you individual tastes and preferences. But, the key for me is, once I put this on the stove to simmer, I also add some dried spices.

The dried spices add more flavor to the "juice" part of the salsa. I let this cook until it thickens, then we can ! We ended up with 17 pints of salsa, and canned the rest of the chopped tomatoes in quart jars to use for chili or soup for the winter. And that was all on Saturday !
Today, we are working on a green enchilada sauce. This is tomatillos, onions, garlic, jalapenos, cilantro, green chiles and just a bit of sugar. I blend this smooth, so we can use it on enchiladas, but you can eat it with chips too, or use it as a base for green chili.

It is still cooking on the stove, but this is one massive batch, so by the time it is done, we will end up with about 32 pints. One pint is just enough for us to make a small batch of enchiladas. That recipe will follow soon !

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