Friday, April 25, 2014

Roasted Pepper Tomato Salsa

Yield: About 16 to 18 pints

7  quarts peeled, cored, chopped paste tomatoes                 
4 cups seeded, chopped long green chiles                         
5 cups chopped onion                                                         
½ cup seeded, finely chopped jalapeño peppers                    
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped                                              
2 cups bottled lemon or lime juice

2 TBSP salt
1 TBSP black pepper
2 TBSP ground cumin (optional)
3 TBSP oregano leaves (optional)
2 TBSP fresh cilantro (optional)

 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 Peppers: The jalapeño peppers do not need to be peeled. 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 peeled. 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.
Hot Pack: Combine all ingredients except cumin, oregano and cilantro in a large saucepot and heat, stirring frequently, until mixture boils. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add spices and simmer for another 20 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 for 20 minutes (here in Utah).

The only 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.

Source:  All canning recipes on this website have been tested to be assured of their safety.  See link for additional processing times in other locations.  Please check for for additional processing times in other parts of the world.  

Easy Grape Juice

Easy Grape Juice

Choose ripe, tight-skinned, preferably green seedless grapes or purple concord grapes once they reach optimum eating quality (you can tell by tasting them, if they are very sweet they are ready.  You can also tell if they are ready to pick if the seed inside has turned a darker color.  Once the seed is dark and the grapes taste very sweet, they are ready to harvest).  Stem, wash, and drain grapes.

Fill jars with 1 ½ cups of grapes, ¼ cup sugar and fill the rest of the jar with boiling water, leaving 1-inch headspace. Have lids simmering in hot water.  Add lids, tighten rims, and process according to the recommendations in Table 1.  With where I live, I process my quart jars for 30 minutes.

If you don't have a juice steamer, this is such an easy way to bottle grape juice.  The final juice isn't as flavorful as juicing the grapes, but they taste wonderful and it's really easy.  Guidelines are from the National Center For Food Preservation.  Our grapes are ready to harvest at different times depending on the weather that year.  They are generally ready 1-2 weeks after our Lemon Elberta Peach tree.  It has been as early as the end of August and as late as the end of September. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Grapes 2011

We had an incredible harvest from our grapes this year- 4 large boxes. The Thompson green seedless grape (that still produces a seed in our region) did amazing! Huge grapes in very large clusters. The concord grapes still produced well but the grapes were a smaller size and the clusters were smaller as well.

We didn't heavily prune this season so the large leaves hid a lot of the grapes and we didn't have any problems with birds this year, we didn't even net the grapes.

Notes for years going forward:

1. To check for ripeness, taste the grapes to see if they are sweet, pop out the seed to see if the seed has changed from a light green to a dark brown. Once dark brown they are ready.
2. Harvest in 2-3 different sessions. Picking everything in one day was way too much.

We processed 2/3 of our grapes into 70 quarts of grape juice and gave away the remaining 1/3.

Small Batch Canning

If you have a glass top stove and can't use a large water bath canner on your stove, you can always work in small batches canning 5 pint jars or 4-5 quart jars in a large stock pot. The jars need to be lifted off the bottom of the pot. You can purchase a small canner tray from Amazon or tie a few canning lids together and place them at the bottom of the pot to keep the jars lifted off the bottom.

This is also a great method if you don't own a large water bath canner. I have used this method for processing small batches of tomato sauce and it works great.

To work around not being able to use my large water bath canner on my glass top stove, I set up my camp chef outside on our deck and process the jars outside. This frees up space on my stove for blanching, boiling water and simmering lids. It also keeps the majority of the heat outside.

Canning Tomato Sauce

Wash, remove stems, and trim off bruised or discolored portions. To prevent juice from separating, quickly cut about 1 pound of fruit into quarters and put directly into saucepan. Heat immediately to boiling while crushing with a potato masher.

Continue to slowly add and crush freshly cut tomato quarters to the boiling mixture. Make sure the mixture boils constantly and vigorously while you add the remaining tomatoes. Simmer 5 minutes after you add all pieces. If you are not concerned about juice separation, simply slice or quarter tomatoes into a large saucepan. Crush, heat, and simmer for 5 minutes before juicing.

Press heated crushed tomatoes through a sieve or food mill to remove skins and seeds. Simmer tomato juice in large-diameter saucepan until sauce reaches desired consistency. Boil until volume is reduced by about one-third for thin sauce, or by one-half for thick sauce.

Add bottled lemon juice and salt to hot jars. Fill jars with hot tomato sauce, leaving ¼-inch head space.

Adjust lids and process the correct time for your altitude (I process my pint jars for 45 minutes and quart jars for 50 minutes).

Add to pint size hot canning jars:
1 TBSP lemon juice (to achieve proper acidity levels for safe canning)
½ tsp. salt (optional)

Add to quart size hot canning jars:
2 TBSP lemon juice (to achieve proper acidity levels for safe canning)
1 tsp. salt (optional)

I like to can my tomato sauce plain without additional seasonings so I can add the seasonings depending on what I'm using it for. Guidelines are from the National Center for Home Preservation .

2011 Peach Harvest

We had a fabulous peach harvest this year even though we had a hard freeze the night our peach tree was blooming. We covered several of the branches with large sheets and it looks like those are the only branches that produced fruit. Because the harvest was small, the peaches were extra large. This was a good reminder for us to always thoroughly thin our peach tree each year.

I also need to remember in years going forward to wait until the peaches are a golden orange all around with no trace of green and plan to pick in 3 batches. Once the peaches start to ripen they look ready outside in the sunlight but it really takes an additional week of patience until they are ready to pick.

This was a late year for us. In 2011 our first peach was ripe September 12th with 1-3 peaches ready to eat each day until September 21st when we bottled 60% of the tree. We picked and bottled the remaining 40% on September 23rd. We bottled 35 quarts this year.

Canning Peaches

Canning Peaches

1. Wash jars and lids, then leave in dishwasher to keep warm
2. Wash peaches in a clean sink with cold water
3. Boil water for syrup
4. Blanch peaches in boiling water for 30-60 seconds, then submerge blanched peaches
in ice cold water
5. Peel skin, remove pit and slice in half (or in thirds for extra large peaches).
Store sliced peaches in a bowl of cold water while preparing enough slices for a

6. Heat water to 180 F, simmer lids in water
7. Add 2/3 cup sugar to each quart jar, then add 1 cup of boiling water. Stir until
dissolved, then pack peaches to ½ inch below rim.
8. If needed add more water to cover all peaches
9. Wipe down jar top and place lid and screw on ring finger tight
10. Place jars in rack above boiling water to acclimate

11. After a minute or two gently lower jars into hot water. Add more water to
ensure jars are covered by 1” of water.
12. Bring to a boil and start timer
13. After processing for the correct time for your altitude (I process mine for 25
minutes), remove from water and allow to cool at room temperature and free from
14. The following day, remove rings, check seals and wash jars.
15. Home process foods last for up to 3 years.

On the stove you will want a large stock pot to blanch the peaches, a medium size pot to boil water to pour into the jars and a small pot to simmer the lids. I put my large water bath canning on our propane camp chef outside on the back patio. It frees up room on our stove and keeps all the heat outside.

A bushel weighs 48 pounds and yields 16-24 quarts (2.5 pounds per quart)

Guidelines are from the National Center for Home Preservation