Master Food Preserver Class – Week 5

Tomatoes are one of my very favourite things to preserve, so I was pretty happy that week 5 of our Master Food Preserver class was devoted to tomatoes (and also cheese!). No, it’s not tomato season here in the PNW, but hey class has to cover everything before the season ramps up, so we got a little tease and now have to wait a few months before we can make all these recipes.

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Canning tomatoes is awesome and amazing and definitely something that you should do, but it’s an area where you definitely need to be following tested and trusted recipes for things like salsas and sauces. Tomatoes are acidic enough to hot water bath can, but they are on the borderline between low and high acid, so we must add a little extra acid when we can them. This is because some may not be quite acidic enough, and if they are not remember we have the potential for botulism growth. We also learned that there are a couple bacteria that are only really found on tomatoes, and these bacteria can reduce the acidity and create conditions that are ideal for botulism. Adding that extra acid eliminates these risks.

In class we canned crushed tomatoes. When filling the jars, you add a bit of extra acid to each jar. 1 tablespoon of lemon juice per pint or 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid. This ensures your tomatoes are definitely out of the pH range in which botulism can grow. It takes two extra seconds to do, so don’t skip it.

The hardest part of canning tomatoes is the peeling. I always can with a friend doing tomatoes because it’s a lot of work. But totally worth it. Look at those naked ‘maters!

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For the crushed tomatoes, we hot packed them. Here we are bringing them to a boil. Hot packing tomatoes is definitely the way to go, or else they have to process for 85 minutes!! That’s crazy talk!

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Crushed tomatoes!

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My favourite thing to do with tomatoes is to make salsa. We made three different salsas in class this week. Two tomato salsas and a tomatillo salsa. Salsa are delcious and amazing, but again, this is one area where you really need to follow a tested recipe, such as a recipe from Ball, So Easy to Preserve or from an extension service publication or the National Center for Home Food Preservation. The reason for this is that adding peppers and onions to the tomatoes to create salsa reduces the acidity, putting it into a range where botulism can definitely grow. Vinegar or lemon or lime juice must be added to compensate for these low-acid foods. But do you know exactly how much acid is needed for a cup of peppers or a cup of onions? No, so try out some of those tested recipes and find one you like. There really are a good number of options out there.

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The one that I helped make is actually this one that I posted last fall. It’s a great one if you like a salsa with a lot of peppers in it. I would recommend making about a million jars of this come tomato season. It’s that good. Although one alteration from the way I did it would be to make the recipe as written, then repeat rather than trying to bring twice as much to a boil. It just took forever to boil and I think holds together better if you get it boiling and into the jars faster. You live and you learn.

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OH MAN I JUST WANT TO EAT IT ALL RIGHT NOW!

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The second recipe was also an OSU extension recipe but it’s more similar to the other one from Ball I posted last year, found here. This one has proportionally more tomatoes than pepper and onions, and has a bit of added tomato paste. They are both delicious and which one you like better will just depend on your taste for salsa.

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Beautiful little fellows.

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Finally, we made a salsa verde using tomatillos. You could also make this with green tomatoes as I did last year with this recipe.

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Filling the jars.

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OK. Well now I am drooling and wishing tomatoes were ready…. but never mind let’s not wish the summer away. Let’s talk about some salsa and tomato rules.

– I already mentioned this, but always follow a tested recipe when canning salsa
– Never reduce the vinegar or lemon juice or add extra vegetables
– Altering spices is OK, like adding some cumin, cilantro or oregano to your taste
– You can swap peppers for different peppers, like if you want your salsa milder or hotter – just ensure you use the volume of total peppers called for in the recipe
– Don’t can overripe, spoiled tomatoes, or those from frost-killed vines. They have lower acidity so may not be safe to can
– Tomatillos and tomatoes are interchangeable in salsa recipes
– Use 5% acidity vinegar and bottled lemon or lime juice in salsa
– Equal amounts of lemon juice can be substituted for vinegar but not vice versa since the lemon juice is more acidic
– Don’t use thickeners in canned salsas, this can cause uneven heating and produce and unsafe product

Whew! OK that seems a bit overwhelming, but basically just be safe and smart making salsa. Follow a tested recipe, don’t be stupid, and you will enjoy many a delicious jar of salsa.

The last thing we did in class was learn to make soft cheese! Honestly, I thought it was a bit of a gross process, but maybe now that I’ve done it once it won’t be so bad next time. ha. And the cheese did taste pretty good. We made queso fresco. I’ll do a full post on it when I have a chance, but here are some pictures.

Milk and buttermilk

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The formation of the curd.

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The curd is setting up.

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Eww. Straining it.

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Squeezing out the whey.

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Ta-da!

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I think it was just the early stages and the smell that bothered me a bit. But it actually tasted surprisingly good. Have you ever made cheese? What’s your favourite kind to make?

 

 

Master Food Preserver Class – Week 3

Week three of Master Food Preserver Class was all about preserving low acid foods. Which means pressure canning! A lot of people are scared of pressure canning, and there are a few things that I think you should have a healthy fear of  – like botulism, but done correctly there is no reason to be afraid of pressure canning. Your pressure canner is not going to explode or anything like that. Even if you accidentally over pressurized it, there is a little safety value that pops off. So ya, you could have a mess on your ceiling, but that’s also only if you really aren’t paying attention. So, I am here to give you some facts about canning, and hopefully dispel some of the pressure canning jitters.

A pressure canner is mandatory if you want to can anything with a pH of 4.6 or above. These low acid foods include any vegetables, meats and combo foods like soups. To toss in some pictures, here is my very first canning project – green beans!

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When picking a pressure canner, there are a couple things to consider. For one, to safely heat the food, a pressure canner must be large enough to hold 4 quart jars minimum. Most are designed for 7 quarts, and the taller ones can fit two layers of pints. The one below is mine, a 23-quart presto. There are two types of pressure canners: weighted gauge and dial guage (dial pictured below). Dial gauges need to be tested every year for accuracy, and the dial replaced if it is off by more than two psi. Usually they stay accurate a long time unless they are bumped, or dropped or something, but you definitely want to check it every year. Your local extension office should be able to do it for you! Dial gauge canners never need to be tested, but only do 5, 10 and 15 psi, so if you need to adjust for altitude, you have to use the 15psi weight. I prefer the dial gauge just because I am a very visual person and like to be able to see that I am at the correct pressure. Some weighted gauge ones also have a dial though. With the weighted gauge you just listen for it venting every 15-20 seconds.

OK, so why do we need pressure canners anyways? Why can’t we just hot water bath can everything? The answer to this is basically one bacteria – Clostridium botulinum, which is the bacteria that produces the botulism toxin, causing severe neurological illness. C. botulinum thrives at pH 4.6-7.0, which is why anything with a pH above 4.6 must be pressure canned (for extra safety most recipes are desgined with 4.2 as the goal). Ideal growing conditions for C. botulinum are anaerobic conditions (without air), moist conditions, around room temperature, with the pH 4.6-7. These are the exact conditions created in a canning jar. However, there is a way to kill C. botulinum, and that is by bringing it to a temperature of 240 F and holding it there for a set amount of time. This cannot be achieved in a boiling water bath – water boils at 212 F.

Other facts about pressure canning:
– When pressure canning (actually any canning) follow safe, approved recipes, like from Ball, So Easy to Preserve, or the National Center for Home Food Preservation website
– Canning times differ for different products due to their texture, density and pH
– Canning at sea level is at 11 psi. Always adjust for your altitude.
– If your canner ever drops below 11 psi while canning, return to pressure and start the time over
– Don’t skip the 10 minute vent time. This vents cold air from the canner to ensure proper processing.
– Pack the jars as listed in the recipe. For example, use appropriate head space. Also, for soups you need to fill half with solids (no more) and top off with liquid.
– Never try to force a canner to cool, just let it cool naturally at room temperature until the safety plug drops. At that point, remove the weight, wait 10 more minutes, then it can be emptied.

OK, and on too the fun pictures. We did beans in class (two types) and a spicy tomato veggie soup. So delish. I’ll update this post with links to the recipes once I post them.

White beans ready to be heated.

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Spooning the rehydrated beans into jars.

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Small red beans.

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With bacon!!

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Most pressure canned items need 1 or 1.5 inch head space. This is below the bottom of the threading by a good centimetre.

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Beans in syrup with bacon!

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My group worked on the spicy tomato soup. SO GOOD! I need to make a giant batch of this when tomato season hits!

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Half full of solids first, then you top off with liquid.

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Eating the leftovers.

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Sorry to taunt you with these pictures and not the full details, but the recipes are coming soon!

*this post contains affiliate links, please see the “About the Blogger” page for more information

Countin’ your cans… for bragging rights, and a purpose

OK, so it may seem like I’m just doing this post to brag about the abundance of goodies in my overflowing pantry, but I swear there is also a purpose beyond making you jealous of me. Why keep a tally of how much you can each year? Well I’ll tell you why. My first year canning, I discovered in February that I only had three jars of salsa left! THE HORROR! I couldn’t make more until August! I never should have shared that red gold with anyone; it is too delicious. So last year, I canned 82 pints of it. HA! That’s not even hyperbole – but, when I do salsa I go big with the batches and split it with a friend, so 40 or so of those went into my pantry. Point is, are 40 pints of salsa going to get me through until I can make more? So far so good! I’ll let you know if it lasts. So, to get to my point at last. Do you have any idea how many jars of something you eat in a year? Are you always kicking yourself come late winter saying, “I wish I canned more ____!!”? This year keep a tally with me. I promise it’s not a contest, but if it were I think I’d place pretty well 😉 Here’s my canning closet in early November, when the bulk of the real canning season was over.

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Here she is, the 2013 canning list, just shy of 500 jars

Jams – 95
16 half pints strawberry jam
17 half pints strawberry rhubarb jam
6 half pints raspberry jam
9 half pints blueberry jam
8 half pints fig strawberry jam
8 half pints apricot jam
8 pints strawberry Pinot noir jam
6 pints blackberry cinnamon tequila jam
17 pints spiced cranberry jam

Who in their right mind needs 95 jars of jam!? No one, absolutely no one! Now having said that, these make excellent gifts. 5 went to my nana for her birthday, many went to family members for Christmas, a few went as wedding presents etc. You can have too much jam, but you’ll never have it go to waste.

Pie Filling
11 quarts strawberry rhubarb pie filling
17 quarts blueberry pie filling

Ya eating 28 pies is a lot, but when you are scrambling two hours before a potluck wondering what the heck to bring, man will you be glad for home canned pie fillings.

Pickles and Relishes
28 pints pickles
7 pints pickled asparagus
14 pints pickled carrots
6 quarts pickled beets
8 pints spicy dilly beans
8 pints zesty zucchini relish

You can never have too many pickled goods. They make a good snack, a nice treat to bring to ladies wine night, or a great topping. And this is coming from someone who a few years ago would pick the pickles off her burgers at a restaurant.

Fruits and Fruit Juices
15 quarts peaches in syrup
7 pints applesauce
5 quarts cranberry juice
10 pints of strawberry lemonade concentrate

I need to get more into fruit things, this area is actually kind of lacking for me. But dang I really like making the juices, SO GOOD.

Tomato Products
82 pints salsa
10 pints salsa verde
29 pints tomato sauce
8 quarts crushed tomatoes
5 pints country western ketchup

My favourite category for sure – always can have more tomatoes!

Pressure Canning
14 pints beans
64 half pints tuna
10pints chicken stock
6 quarts pressure canned beets
20 half pints corn

Always great to have these things on hand for a quick meal!

Overall, I think I need to add more savoury to my sweet this year, but I’m pretty proud of this list! What canned goods do you always run out of first? Keep track with me this year so you can better gauge how much you eat, and how much to make of your favourites.

Salsa Verde

NOOOOOO TOMATO SEASON IS OVER! 😦 It is sad, but at least I have a pantry full of delicious goodies to get me through the winter. The first frost was a week or two ago, and it meant that upon seeing the warning I picked all my green tomatoes. Sadly it came a little early this year so I had a lot of green tomatoes still. However, the bright side is that I made this green tomato salsa! If you still have green tomatoes this is a great use for them.

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Ingredients:
5 cups chopped green tomatoes or tomatillos
1.5 cups seeded chopped long green chilies
1/2 cup finely chopped jalapeno peppers
4 cups chopped onions
1 cup bottled lemon or lime juice
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin (or to taste)
3 tablespoons oregano (or to taste)
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Here’s what I did:

I wanted the tomatoes, peppers and onions chopped pretty finely so I used my little food processor on all three.

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Chop the tomatoes, peppers and onions.

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Mix all the ingredients together in your stock pot and bring it to a boil over medium high heat. I would wait until it’s heated and mixed together before adding the spices. I went for the full amounts of cumin and oregano but I may recommend starting with less and adding to taste because it can become a little overpowering.

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Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Meanwhile prepare the canner, jars and lids.

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Fill the hot jars leaving a half inch head space. De-bubble the jars, wipe rims, apply lids and bands, tightening finger tip tight. Process at a full rolling boil for 15 minutes.

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After 15 minutes, turn off the heat, remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes and remove the jars to a hot pad or towel. After 12-24 hours remove bands, check seals, label and store! Recipe yields 5 pints.

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Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Sauce

I’ve been wanting to do some different tomato sauce recipes and found this one in one of my newer canning books – “Preserving” by Pat Crocker. This recipe takes a little bit of work with all the roasting, but it is so freaking delicious that it’s totally worth the effort. Now because this is from one of my canning books that I don’t trust with my life necessarily (such as Ball, or an extension service publication), please see my little discussion at the end of this post about how I decided that it is safe for hot water bath canning (but don’t worry, I am posting it because I decided it is).

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Ingredients:
4 pounds of tomatoes, preferably roma
2 pounds red bell peppers
2 cups chopped onions
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
(or 2/3 if you want to be extra safe – see my rant at the end)
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
10 cloves garlic
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup red wine
1 tbsp salt
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
5 tbsp bottled lemon juice

Here is what I did:

Preheat the oven to 400F

Since I tripled the recipe and I don’t have that many rimmed baking sheets, I needed to roast in phases. I did the tomatoes first. Cut them in half and seed them and place them face down on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle 2 tbsp of the oil over them. Roast them for 15-20 minutes.

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Look at those beauties! Let them cool enough to handle them, peel off the skins and put the tomatoes in your pot. You can chop them coarsely if you like but mine fell apart so easily I really didn’t need to do any chopping.

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Next roast the red peppers. Place them skin side up, halved and seeded on the baking sheet and drizzle with the other 2 tbsp of oil. Roast the garlic along with them. The peppers take a little longer, maybe 25-30 minutes. Roast until the skins char a little bit. The house will smell sooooo good. Remove the garlic as soon as it is soft, it won’t need that much time, 5 or 10 minutes.

Of course if you are doing the recipe as written and have enough trays, you may be able to do all the roasting at once.

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Peel the skins off the peppers once they cool enough to handle. Some slide right off but some are a terrible pain. My advice would be to try and grab it by a blister and pull off as much in one go as possible. Chop the peppers and add to the pot with the tomatoes. You can also pour some of the juices released from the tomatoes and peppers on the tray into the pot.

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Chop the garlic and onions and add them in as well. Bring the sauce to a boil.

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Add the vinegar, salt, sugar, and red wine and boil for 30 minutes.

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Add the herbs and continue to boil for an hour or so, until the sauce is thick.

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Meanwhile prepare the canner, jars and lids. The recipe says it will yield 5 pints, but tripling it it I only made just over 10. This is another reason I thought a little more acid per jar may not be a bad idea.

When the sauce is thickened to your satisfaction, it’s jar filling time! Add 1 tbsp of lemon juice to each jar before filling with the hot sauce.

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Fill the jars leaving a half inch head space. Wipe the rims, apply the lids, and tighten bands finger tip tight. Place jars in canner, covered by at least 1-2 inches of water. Process at a full rolling boil for 35 minutes.

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After the 35 minutes is up, turn off the heat, remove canner lid and wait 5 minutes before removing the jars to a hot pad or towel. Wait 12-24 hours for them to cool. Check seals, wipe down the jars, label and store.

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OK so as promised, here is my safety rant… I mean discussion… about this sauce. As you may notice, there are a LOT of low acid ingredients in this recipe. There is a 2:1 ratio of tomatoes to peppers, and onions on top of that. So, since I really want to be safe in my canning and not make anyone sick, I wanted to check into whether this is acidic enough. My one big reminder here is this: anyone can publish a book/blog/whatever about canning, so always do your research before making a new recipe. Ball for example can be trusted, and so can other books that have actual tested recipes, such as this one, by a university extension service or the USDA. I was a bit wary as to whether this recipe is acidic enough for hot water bath canning, so I referred to some ball ratios to help me decide. I found a salsa recipe that has very similar ratios of tomatoes, peppers and onions. Per tomato amount it has slightly less peppers than this recipe and slightly more onion. When scaled to the quantity of this sauce, it has about 2-3 tablespoons more acid than this recipe, and around a cup more low acid ingredients (onion and pepper). So basically what I am saying here is the recipe seems to be pretty darn close to a trusted recipe I have. And really, all I am saying is stay safe! Definitely do not add more onions or peppers to this recipe! And if you are worried at all, as I was, add a little more acid. I tried a little more lemon juice and think you may start to taste that, but I think upping the vinegar to 2/3 cup would not change the flavour too much, or you could also reduce the peppers or onions a little. All in all I just wanted to remind people not to trust every recipe you see unless they are tested recipes and feel free to be extra safe with a little added acid. OK rant done, now go make some sauce it’s so delicious!

*This post contains affiliate links. Check out the “About the Blogger” page for more information.

Country Western Ketchup

It’s time for some more terrific tomatoes! For this adventure in deliciousness we turned to an OSU Extension Service publication. This is a delicious ketchup with a little more spice than a traditional ketchup, not hot spice, just really flavourful – I personally think it’s freaking fantastic.

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Ingredients:

24 pounds of tomatoes
5 chili peppers, sliced and seeded
1/4 cup salt
2 2/3 cups vinegar (5%)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
4 tsp paprika
4 tsp whole allspice
4 tsp dry mustard
1 Tbsp whole peppercorn
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 Tbsp bay leaves

In my opinion, you don’t really want to cut this recipe down at all because cooking down to the consistency of ketchup only leaves you with 6-7 pints. Halving it would only get you 3 or so which would just be sad!

Here is what we did:

Our tomatoes aren’t coming in quite fast enough to have 24 ripe pounds at a time, so I have been chucking them in the freezer. This is the perfect thing to do if you don’t have enough yet, or don’t have time to deal with them. They make great sauce or ketchup still after freezing and it eliminates the need to blanch!

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Thaw the frozen tomatoes either with patience, your mind power or by running them under hot water, and the skin comes off super nicely! If you didn’t use frozen like me just blanch and peel and put them in your biggest pot.

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Keep yourself entertained while peeling like we do. Weee it’s a tomato super hero! I will post it to Instagram! Ahem, I mean bring the tomatoes to a boil over medium high heat.

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Add in all the tomatoes and the chili peppers, mash them up a bit, and simmer uncovered for at least 20 minutes (note: I know what you are thinking, no this picture is not all the tomatoes).

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Meanwhile prepare the spice bag. Put the spice bag into a pot with the vinegar and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat once it is boiling and let it steep in the vinegar at least 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the spice bag and pour the spiced vinegar in with the tomatoes. Cook at least another 30 minutes.

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Strain time! Turn off the heat and let the ketchup cool a bit. Then put the mixture through a food mill or strainer. I ran it through the Victorio a couple times.

ASIDE: Make sure you carefully assemble your strainer if this is the type you are using and have the screw tightly attached because at this point we had a TOMATO EXPLOSION! The screw must not have been in tight and the metal grate piece popped off while we were cranking and we lost a few cups of juice to the floor. It was very sad but at least we lost only what was in the hopper and strainer part at the time.

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Return the mixture to the pot, add the sugar and salt and boil gently until it reaches ketchup consistency. It takes a long time but it is worth the wait! Stir occasionally.

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This is what ketchup consistency looks like. Sorry for the terrible quality pictures, too much steam! But anyways if it mounds nicely on your spoon and looks generally ketchup like it is ready to be canned. Prepare the canner, jars and lids a little bit before it is ready.

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Ladle the hot ketchup into hot jars leaving 1/8 to 1/4 inch head space. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and tighten the bands finger tip tight.

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Process pints or half pints for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. Cover by at least 1-2 inches of water and start timing when the water is at a full rolling boil.

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After 15 minutes remove the canner lid, wait 5 minutes and remove the jars. Let cool 12-24 hours then remove bands, label and store. Mmmm countrified deliciousness.

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Seasoned Tomato Sauce

Last night was a canning EXTRAVAGANZA! An adventure in awesomeness! A deed of deliciousness! A ….slight screw up on one recipe, but we’ll get to that. I was canning with a friend, so I showed up at her house with 60 pounds of tomatoes! This sauce is what we did with half of them. The recipe is super nice if you don’t like a chunky sauce. You an still reduce it to a thick enough sauce, but it’s not chunky because you run it through a strainer after cooking it. It is also from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving like many of my faves.

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Ingredients:

10 pounds of tomatoes, cored
2.5 cups finely chopped onions
3 cloves minced garlic
1.5 tsp dried oregano (I like more personally)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes

We did 30 lbs so exactly tripled the recipe. However, we got about 11 pints even though the recipe said it would make 6, so we must have reduced it longer.

Here is what we did:

Wash and core the tomatoes. Quarter the tomatoes and fill the pot one layer deep. Crush the tomatoes with a potato masher, or in our case a plastic cup because I forgot the masher, and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir constantly! Here is our mistake, we got some burnage happening on the bottom of the pot. Burnt=bad! Continue adding, crushing, stirring, adding, crushing, stirring, adding, stirring, crushing, adding, stirring, adding, crushing, stirring, adding, stirring, crushing, adding, crushing, stirring, adding, stirring, crushing, adding, stirring, crushing, stirring, until all the tomatoes are in the pot. Maintain a boil the whole time and stir!

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We had tripled the recipe so had this going in three pots. Once the tomatoes are all added, add the chopped onions and spices (everything but the lemon juice). You are allowed to add more garlic, or oregano, or add some basil or parsley if you desire as well. Reduce the heat to medium after you have it boiling again so you don’t burn the sauce! To get a good consistency, reduce by about half, which takes 2 or so hours. We did another recipe now, so there is certainly time, just watch it and stir so it doesn’t burn.

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mmm sauce. After it is done reducing, remove it from the heat. Prepare the canner, jars and lids.

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In batches, run it through a strainer/food mill. Using Mr. Victario we found that not all the good stuff strained out the first go around, so we actually put it through a few times. With just a strainer you are pressing it through I imagine this would be less of an issue.

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Once you’ve got all the good stuff, return the sauce to a boil. This is important because the processing time is based on hot sauce, not lukewarm sauce, so don’t be lazy and can the warm sauce or you could be making an unsafe product.

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Before filling each jar with sauce, add one tablespoon of bottled lemon juice (or 1/4 tsp citric acid if you prefer) to each hot jar.

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Then fill each jar leaving a half inch head space. Wipe the rims, apply the lids, and tighten the bands finger tip tight.

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Place the jars in the canner, covered by at least 1-2 inches of water and bring to a full rolling boil. Process for 35 minutes (for those of us less than 1000 feet in altitude). After 35 minutes turn off the heat, remove the canner lid, wait 5 minutes, and remove the jars to a hot pad or towel. Listen to the pings! PING PING PING!

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12-24 hours later, check the seals, remove the bands and wipe down the jars; label and store! Enjoy all winter (or as long as you manage to make them last).

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*This post contains affiliate links. Check out the “About the Blogger” page for more information.

Salsa Perfection

OK so I probably shouldn’t have called my first salsa the “best ever” as this leaves no room for improvement. So since I don’t wanna be a bad canning mama and pick my favourite child I am calling this one “salsa perfection.” Best and perfect sound pretty equivalent to me, right? Phew, dodged that bullet. Anyways, I digress. This recipe is what we did with the other 30 pounds of tomatoes from the tomato extravaganza that was last night. This salsa has more peppers than the first recipe I posted, so if you like your salsa more peppery this is the one for you! This recipe comes from PNW 395, one of my favourite publications! It’s the Chile salsa, bottom of page 9.

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Ingredients:

10 cups peeled, cored, chopped tomatoes
6 cups seeded, chopped chili peppers (use some hot and some mild, or sub in some green bell peppers and some jalapenos like we did – 6 cups total of all peppers you use though)
4 cups chopped onions
1 cup vinegar
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp dry cumin (optional)
1 tsp dry oregano (optional)

As above the recipe will yield 7-9 pints.

Here is what we did:

Core, blanch and peel, the tomatoes. I learned from last time to blanch them for just a short 30 seconds or so, that way they don’t get soggy/cooked. Core 6 or 8 and plop them in boiling water.

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Then throw them straight into ice water and repeat. Only leave them in the boiling water for the short time it takes to quickly peel the 6 or 8 and then they don’t get soggy.

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Look at all those beautiful naked tomatoes!

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Dice the tomatoes. Do a fairly course dice because they will break down a bit when they are boiled. We had 48 cups from the 30 pounds, so we did 4.8x the recipe, multiplying through for the other ingredients. Chop up the onions and peppers. Try and cut the peppers and onions in similarly sized pieces. Wear gloves for the hot ones! Remove the seeds and veins from hot peppers or add just some of them, depending on how hot you like your salsa. I like to keep a bowl of the seeds set aside so I can make some batches hotter than others and label the lids accordingly.

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We had to do this in multiple batches since my stock pot is 12 quarts and we had about 1.5x that. But if you are normal and not doing a mondo batch, mix all the ingredients in your stock pot. Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend the mondo batch. It takes to long to boil so gets watery. Do one batch, get it in the canner, and repeat. I did it that way the next time I did a huge salsa batch and was much happier. Still make a ton of salsa though. Just do it in batches or multiple pots. Anyways, add all the tomatoes, peppers, onions, vinegar and spices. A fun fact about salsa is that if you don’t like the vinegar flavour you can sub lemon or lime juice in equal quantities if you prefer. Or a different vinegar like cider vinegar (we used white vinegar but both are tasty). Just make sure whatever vinegar you use is 5% acidity. You can also add more or less salt, or other dried spices. Just DO NOT alter the ratios of the veggies. And be careful if you do giant batches like this that you get all the ratios right, it is easy to screw up and make something unsafe if you aren’t careful and paying attention. Another good reason to do one batch, get it in the canner, and repeat.

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Bring the salsa to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. While bringing it to the boil prepare the canner, jars and lids. I prefer the wide mouth pints for dipping! Once it’s been boiling for 10 minutes it is ready to be put it the hot jars!

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Fill the jars leaving a half inch head space. Wipe rims, apply lids and tighten bands finger tip tight. Place in the canner covered by at least 1-2 inches of water. Bring to a full rolling boil and process for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes turn off the heat, remove the canner lid, wait 5 minutes and remove the jars to a towel or hot pad. Count the pings as the jars seal! Below you can see we had both of our canners going with 8 jars a piece and still had almost a full pot left of salsa! What an excellent batch! Took 4 full canner loads plus 2.5 jars for the fridge – 34.5 delicious pints of salsa! If this pressure canner picture is confusing you, it’s just because I use my pressure canner as a water bath canner too, I didn’t pressure can this.

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12-24 hours later check the seals, remove the rings, wipe down the jars and label and store. Lately I’ve been noting the page number or source of the recipe on the label too so maybe by next year I really can pick a favourite. 😉

My share of the bounty! mmmm mmmm good.

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Tomato Leather

My lovely man gave me a dehydrator for my birthday, so when we were making tomato sauce we decided to experiment with using the skins for something – tomato leather!

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All we really did for this recipe was wring out as much of the excess liquid as we could and place the the skins in a nice even layer on the dehydrator trays. With the skins from 22 pounds of tomatoes we filled two trays. We seasoned it with lots of garlic powder, cayenne, salt and pepper. We turned the dehydrator on to 135 F, and left it overnight.

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In the morning it was cripsy goodness! The tray that we had put on the fruit roll sheet wasn’t fully dry on the bottom so I transferred it just to the regular tray and left it another couple hours.

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When dry, I cracked them up into pieces and put them in a plastic bag for a snack later. It actually tastes pretty good, I wasn’t sure what to expect, and it’s good for you!

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Tomato Sauce

The tomatoes are still flowing in like crazy so the next great mission was tomato sauce! There are a TON of great tomato sauce recipes out there, so I hope for this to be one of many delish recipes I post. Another favourite from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. If you are looking for it, it’s the Italian style sauce in the book.

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Ingredients:

8 cups of fresh plum tomato purée
2/3 cup finely chopped onion
2/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
2 cloves garlic
4 tbsp bottled lemon juice
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp finely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
herbs (oregano, basil, parsley, rosemary) to taste

As written above this recipe makes about 3 pints. I had 22 pounds of tomatoes for this mission, which when pureed was 28 cups of purée. So we did a batch about 3.5x this recipe.

Here is what we did:

Tomato sauces are a lot more manageable with a friend, so Kiki and I set off on another tomatoey adventure. We also invited another good friend – VICTORIO!

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If you plan to do a lot of sauces, pastes, purées etc. a Victorio strainer is an awesome investment. Plus, it’s so fun to use! Assemble your strainer. Wash and quarter the tomatoes and chuck them into the hopper! Plunge and crank those delicious babies through the strainer.

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All the good stuff comes flowing out the front and the “waste” gets pooped out the side. This is the skins and seeds, stuff you’d rather not have in a good sauce. BUT see my dehydrating post for something to do with the skins if you want to use the whole tomatoes!

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Tomatoes can be really juicy, even romas, so I like to reduce them for at least an hour or two. Measure the juice and reduce it either in a pot on the burner, or in the oven. I put the juices in a bunch of trays and reduce it in the oven at 300F. If you are just doing a single batch though, this recipe does reduce fine on the burner. Combine the chopped veggies with a cups of the tomato juice and boil for about 5 minutes. Then add 1 cup of juice at a time so you can maintain the boil. When doing a large batch I like to do a combo of the two methods, reducing some of the juice in the oven first.

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Once all the tomato business is dealt with, chop up the carrots, onions, celery and garlic. Or perhaps you did this recipe the other way and already added them. I like them pretty finely chopped, but it’s up to you. Try for consistent sizes so they are cooked evenly.

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Get everything boiling over medium high heat. I did this first with a fraction of the tomatoes, while leaving the rest to reduce in the oven. As the trays in the oven become reduced enough, add them to the main pot. However you want to do it is fine, then reduce it until your desired thickness, about by a third or so. Add seasonings if you desire, the garlic, salt, pepper, hot pepper flakes and lemon juice. SAFETY NOTE: The lemon juice is added to make this recipe safe for hot water bath canning. Make sure you have measured how much tomato juice and everything else you added so you can add enough lemon juice. And don’t add more carrots, onion and/or celery than the recipe calls for. I wouldn’t want you to give your family botulism!

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While the sauce is reducing and cooking, prepare the canner, jars and lids.

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Fill the jars leaving a 1/2 inch head space. De-bubble the jars, wipe the rims, and place on the lids and bands, finger tip tight.

I had 10 pints almost exactly – the capacity of the canner. It’s a canning miracle!

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Place the jars in the canner, covered by at least 1-2 inches of water. Bring to a full rolling boil and process for 35 minutes. Following the 35 minute time, turn off the heat, remove the canner lid, let cool for 5 minutes and remove the jars onto a towel or hot pad. Listen for the 10 pings!!

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Let them cool for 12-24 hours. Check the seal and wipe the jars down.

Label, store and enjoy!

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