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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Final Canning Weekend of the Season?

This weekend, Andy was sick...and we had 25 pounds of Romas and 10 pounds of tomatillos to can. He mustered through parts of the process, but my role was much bigger than normally expected on a CANNING WEEKEND.

We canned 7.5 quarts of diced tomatoes, using the same process we've used for years.

And, we made 10 pints of canned salsa verde. This year we've frozen quite a haul of various salsas, but this is the first time in our lives that we've canned salsa. We're wondering what the difference between the frozen salsa and the canned salsa will be. All of the our canned and frozen salsas are blended for the sake of consistency. I don't like slimy cilantro, for example. What do all of you think? Have you had better results with canning or with freezing salsa? Obviously canning is more work and often takes more of the nutrients out of the food than freezing does, so we're wondering: what's the benefit? Please comment!

We used a recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Here it is (copied and pasted):

Tomatillo Green Salsa

  • 5 cups chopped tomatillos
  • 1-½ cups seeded, chopped long green chiles
  • ½ cup seeded, finely chopped jalapeño peppers
  • 4 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup bottled lemon or lime juice
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons dried oregano leaves (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
Read more about ingredients. Yield: About 5 pints
Please read Using Boiling Water Canners before beginning. If this is your first time canning, it is recommended that you read Principles of Home Canning.
Caution: Wear plastic or rubber gloves and do not touch your face while handling or cutting hot peppers. If you do not wear gloves, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face or eyes.
Preparing Tomatillos: Remove the dry outer husks from tomatillos; wash thoroughly. They do not need to be peeled or seeded.
Preparing Peppers: The skin of long green chiles may be tough and can be removed by heating the peppers. Usually when peppers are finely chopped, they do not need to be skinned. If you choose to peel chiles, slit each pepper along the side to allow steam to escape. Peel using one of these two methods:
  • Oven or broiler method to blister skins - Place chiles in a hot oven (400°F) or broiler for 6 to 8 minutes until skins blister.

  • Range-top method to blister skins - Cover hot burner (either gas or electric) with heavy wire mesh. Place peppers on burner for several minutes until skins blister.

  • To peel, after blistering skins, place peppers in a pan and cover with a damp cloth. (This will make peeling the peppers easier.) Cool several minutes; slip off skins. Discard seeds and chop.
The jalapeño peppers do not need to be peeled, but seeds are often removed.
Hot Pack: Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and stir frequently over high heat until mixture begins to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 2O minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle hot into clean, hot pint jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened, clean paper towel; apply two-piece metal canning lids. Process in a boiling water canner according to the recommendations in Table 1.
Table 1. Recommended process time for Tomatillo Green Salsa in a boiling-water canner.
  Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size 0 - 1,000 ft 1,001 - 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Hot Pints 15 min 20 25
Note: You may use green tomatoes in this recipe instead of tomatillos.
The only other change you can safely make in this salsa recipe is to change the amount of spices and herbs. Do not alter the proportions of vegetables to acid and tomatoes because it might make the salsa unsafe. Do not substitute vinegar for the lemon juice.

Nutrition Information (Estimated values using Nutritionist Pro™ software)
Per 2 Tbsp: Calories 10, Total Fat 0 g, Sodium 89 mg, Fiber 0 g, Protein 0 g. 
Daily Values: Vitamin A 1%, Vitamin C 17%, Calcium 1%, Iron 1%.
Percent Daily Values based on Dietary Reference Intakes.
We'll see what the future holds, but I'm wondering if this is the last canning weekend of the year!  The pantry is looking good, and the freezer is loaded with goodies. There is always a sense of bitter-sweetness at the end of the season. On one hand, being done frees up some time, but I believe solidly that there is nothing quite like listening to This American Life or some good tunes, drinking a cup of tea (and later wine), and steaming up the kitchen with cooking. Until next year though... enjoy the harvest!

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