Tis the season for canning! Canning can seem daunting with all the sterilizing, boiling and sealing. Not only is it more fun to do with friends but if your a canning novice then it can also be safer. That said, if you have never canned before I would highly recommend it. I want to share the many benefits to canning – from health reasons to environmental reasons, as well as a Simple Salsa Recipe.
What are the Benefits to Canning Food?
- Preserves foods while they are in season and when there is an over abundance of produce. Enjoy foods such as berries, tomatoes, peaches, cucumbers, beans and salmon all year long.
- Limits exposure to nasty preservatives, additives and other junk. Concerns over BPA in the lining of store-bought canned foods is still relevant and can be reduced by canning your own tomatoes, fruit, etc. See my post BPA Health and Environmental Concerns.
- The nutrients in some foods are enhanced the by the cooking process. This includes lycopene, a carotenoid that protects against prostate cancer. Canned tomatoes are better than fresh!
- Reduces waste. Home canned foods are stored in containers that can be reused again the following season.
- Save money! If you already have a veggie garden or access to community fruit trees, canning is a great way to use up extra produce. Often vegetable markets will sell canning vegetables at a cheaper price if you buy them in bulk.
- Sense of accomplishment. Yes really! Just like a keen knitter feels when they finish a sweater… I can only imagine it would be the same.
- Christmas and birthdays are covered. Showing up at a birthday party with a jar of canned peaches will put you in the running for best guest.
- Good excuse for a party. A few wines, a stock pot, some mason jars, and quality time with friends.
- It just tastes better. It really does. But you will never know until you try :)
If you are a beginner canner as well, I would recommend starting with a salsa. Why? Because it’s pretty hard to mess up salsa. The ingredients are relatively easy to get your hands on, and the rewards will be so fitting you will be hooked into the world of canning instantly. A quick Google search will find you thousands of salsa recipes, here is a simple and tasty recipe. Call all your friends… your having a canning party!
Basic Salsa Recipe
- Large Stockpot
- Around 6 1L Mason Jars or 12 500mL Mason Jars
- Canning Lids
- Canning Tongs (optional but very handy)
- Clean Dish Clothes
Ingredients for Basic Salsa Recipe
- 8 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced*
- 4 small onions, I used 2 red and 2 yellow, finely chopped
- 2 large bell peppers (capsicum), I used one red and one green, finely chopped
- 2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped and deseeded (optional)
- 12-16 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 bunches of cilantro (coriander), chopped
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 4 lemons, juiced
- 2 tbsp. canning salt
- 1/2 cup water or leftover tomato water (optional)
*to removed tomato skins, score an X with a knife on the bottom of the tomatoes. Place tomatoes in large pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, remove and plunge into a bowl of ice water. The skin should now easily peel off. Remove the seeds and squeeze out any excess water (you can save the water to add later if your salsa is too thick).
Method For Basic Salsa Recipe
- Before you start anything, you need to sterilize your mason jars and lid rings. I did this by boiling them for a few minutes in large stock pot. Some prefer to put them straight in the dish washer. Just make sure they are clean clean clean… don’t wait any spoilage later. Once they are clean, leave them top-side down on a clean dish cloth to keep them clean. Alternatively, leave them in the dishwasher until needed.
- To clean the lids, place them in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave them in the water until ready to use.
- To start with the salsa finely chop the skinned tomatoes and place in a large saucepan with all the other ingredients. Bring it to a gentle simmer, cook it only as long as it is required to get to the desired consistency. Cooking for longer will reduce the liquid and create a more thick salsa whereas a shorter cooking time will produce a more runny texture. If you think your salsa is too thick add some of the leftover tomato water. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Once the salsa is done cooking, place the salsa into mason jars leaving a little bit of room at the top of the jar (about 1/4 inch). Gently tap the bottom of the jars on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rim with a clean cloth to make sure no salsa will get between the rim and the lid. Making sure the contact area between the jar and the lids is clean ensures good sealing.
- Pick up the sterilized lids using some clean tongs and place on the rim. Tighten the lid ring around each jar – the lid should be tight but not too tight as the jar will expand slightly during the boiling process.
- Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Boil the jars of salsa for about 35 minutes. Once it is done be careful when removing the jars – this is where jar lifting tongs come in handy. Place on a dish cloth and let cool. Listen for the ping sound which means your canned salsa has sealed. I like to unscrew the rings once the jars have sealed. This is a safety precaution because if bacteria culture does grow inside your jar the lid should pop off and you will know that it is spoilt. Leaking, bulging or rust is also a indicator of spoilage.
- If any of your jars have not sealed properly, you can save these ones in your fridge and use them over the next week. Your sealed salsa is now ready to be stored or cellared and should last at least one year… if not more. I love cooking eggs in mine for a simple but tasty breakfast. Simply open a jar of salsa, heat it in a saucepan, crack in some eggs and let cook for a few minutes with the lid on until the eggs are cooked to your liking.
- Next tackle… peaches!!!
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