Friday, October 8, 2010
She cans! She cans!
I mentioned before that I went over to my friend Katie's house a few weeks ago for a lesson is preserving. She suggested we make some basic salsa for my first go, and I agreed. Salsa is something we eat a lot of here at the House of Science. Plus it's something that most people enjoy and therefore jars of it will make excellent gifts. Win win.
After the success of my canning date with Katie, I waited a few weeks (until more of my tomatoes were ripe!) and decided to try it all myself. A Saturday morning trip to Canadian Tire yielded a canning accessories kit (funnel, magnetic lid lifter, jar lifter), some racks for the bottom of my stock pot, and a box of small mason jars. On the way home I swung by the Main Farmers' Market for some cilantro, green peppers, and onions. And a cookie. For fortification.
I had enough ripe tomatoes and fresh hot peppers from my garden to make up the rest of the recipe. The recipe, by the way, came from Katie via a Bernardin home preserving cookbook. I couldn't find the exact recipe on the current Bernardin website, but they have a bunch of others up there if you're interested.
The hardest part of all this for me was sticking to the recipe. Honestly, I never do that. I've been cooking long enough to understand substitutions and how they work. But this is not just about taste. This is about science! And I am not qualified to mess with science. Nobody likes their salsa with a side of botulism.
Canning food isn't really that hard once you know the steps you need to follow. I kept repeating Katie's canning mantra in my head: Hot food into hot jars. That's the basic principle. All the other steps are important too, so make sure you have an experienced friend or a helpful book at your side to guide you through the process if you've never done it before. I used my notes from my first session with Katie and also referenced Ashley English's amazing book Canning and Preserving. This book has simple instructions and lots of helpful photos. I'm so glad I ordered it (from my favourite bookstore in the world).
Easy Tomato Salsa (via Katie, via Bernardin)
7 cups peeled tomatoes, chopped small
2 cups onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup green pepper, chopped small
8 jalepeno peppers, chopped (you can add less if you like a milder salsa)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (four tbsp) tomato paste
3/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup cilantro (chopped)
1/2 tsp cumin
To easily peel the tomatoes, lightly cut an "X" shape into their skins and then drop them into boiling water for about 30 seconds. Fish them out with a slotted spoon and drop them into a bowl of ice water. The skins should be peeling away all on their own and you'll be able to just pull them off.
Place all ingredients in a large pot (I used my cast iron dutch oven) over medium-high heat and bring to a gentle boil. Keep the gentle boiling going for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will make your house smell awesome.
Fill your (hot) jars with (hot) salsa according to traditional canning procedure (which you're learning from a reliable friend or a helpful book).
Makes nine 250 ml jars full of deliciousness.
-It is Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend and I am still on the look out for a perfect nut or lentil loaf recipe. Does anyone have one that they've tried and loved? All the ones I've made have been too heavy.
-Last night I made Orangette's red lentil soup for dinner (veggie broth, not chicken broth, of course) and I highly recommend it. As a bonus, the recipe makes tons, so you can feed a crowd or freeze a bunch of it for later. This recipe is going into heavy rotation around here. I love soups that can be easily made from things I almost always have on hand. Perfect in the case of any soup emergency that might arise.
-The tea towel in the photos was designed by Claudia Pearson and it is awesome. She has three others for the other seasons but I just got Fall because it is my favourite season. Nuts to you, other seasons! But much love to Claudia Pearson who makes beautiful things. Hallie bought me this tea towel at the Brooklyn Flea Market along with a beautiful print. It was a wedding gift, which was very sweet. Hooray for nesting!
This Time Last Year: Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake