Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer Harvest Benefits

My own tomatoes were started from plants and have been growing about six weeks on the back deck. There are a lot of 1-2 inch tomatoes that will come along in a while. A farm about an hour from here already has tomatoes harvested. I suspect greenhouse activity. =) Last weekend, a bunch of us went together and someone picked up our orders of 25 pound boxes of tomatoes. Thankfully, I only ordered one! I'm not able to work quite as hard as I used to and with half the box turned into salsa, I'm wiped out!

The first batch of salsa I made included 3 sweet banana peppers from my own back porch. Excitement! As I type this, I'm pausing to load tortilla chips with that salsa and it is so good! Even if I do say so myself. I modified a recipe given to me by a friend. I'm sharing it here. This recipe could be done using lots of the harvest from your own garden!

Sweet Pepper Salsa

Makes 4.5 pints

30-35 tomatoes (mine were small and medium sized)
3 sweet banana peppers (about 5 inches long)
1 each red, yellow and orange bell peppers
2 large sweet onions (Vidalia or Texas Sweets are excellent!)
3 teaspoons salt (I used two sodium and 1 potassium)
1 teaspoon pepper (I used a red/white/green/black combo in my grinder)
1/2 c. sugar (if you like it sweeter, use up to a cup, but no more)
garlic to taste (I could have used fresh, but didn't have any so I used a teaspoon of garlic powder.)
1 teaspoon of cilantro (or to taste, could be fresh)

I think that's everything. I used the directions in the Ball Canning book for blanching the tomatoes (though I don't do it until the skin cracks because I hate truly mushy stuff!). I mixed all the chopped up things, put in the spices, and boiled it a while. (How do you like those directions?) I think I let it simmer, not full rolling boil, for about an hour or an hour and a half, and it all fit in my 6 qt. Wearever pot.

My tomatoes were very, VERY juicy, so I skimmed off about a liter of thin juice from the top. I will use it in canning the tomatoes tomorrow, I think, or else put it in a soup pot soon. It has all the flavors, but it was more like watery juice and I figured it would take forever to boil away.

I ladled the salsa into 4 pint jars and the left over bit into a half-pint that I put in the fridge. The pint jars were water-bath canned for 20 minutes and they all pinged beautifully.

I have peach-pineapple-tomato salsa in the pot now and will soon get it into jars for the water bath, and then tomorrow finish the rest of the tomatoes as quarters canned.

So how does this fit into Provident Prep? Well, it's simple really. Having a garden or having access to summer-priced produce gives us the opportunity to preserve, whether by canning, dehydrating, making into jam, or freezing, things that will be delicious in the dead of winter and healthy for us and our families.

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