Tuesday, July 20, 2010


This past weekend I completed my first few Christmas presents. Yup, I'm being that well prepared this year (more details another post). I had noticed that my local farm stand place had tomatoes (they have a really awesome facebook page) and figured that the men in my family (notoriously difficult to find gifts for) would certainly enjoy some homemade salsa.

In the week leading up to my free days I did a good bit of research to prepare myself. I determined a number of things:
  • My pressure canner which I'm really not sure how I ended up with it beyond that someone in my family gave it to me could, logically, be a safety hazard. So I opted to go with the water bath method.
  • If I could find the supplies this would also be a good opportunity for pickle making.
  • Being a low-acid food the canning of tomato products can be a bit sketchy. Maybe I ought to warn the fam. before they dig in.
On Saturday I came home with a whole bunch of tomatoes (1/4 bushel maybe), lots of yellow onions, a bunch of jalapeno peppers, peaches to be eaten, and larger peppers whose name I couldn't remember. This forgetfulness caused me a bit of despair as I worried about making things too spicy. So steeling myself for possible doom I sliced a bit off, threw it in a hot pan (that I had just used to make myself an awesome BLT aka my new favorite food) and then ate it. Thankfully it was a very mild nicely sweet tasting pepper. Whew.

Sunday afternoon as the Sun roasted life in my apartments to new heights it was time to begin. First up was cleaning and filling the ginormous pot and hoping my little stove would be able to bring it to a boil. Thankfully it worked.

First up was the pickles. I sliced up my cucumbers, determined I really didn't have that many, and stuffed them in 4 jars. Then I used a bagged mix to prepare the pickle juice. Holy moly is that stuff strong. But everything went smoothly and soon I had 4 jars in the water bath. 

At some point I looked in and noticed one of the jars floating. "Well that's not right" I thought to myself and proceeded to try and sink it back down for proper processing. This mixing up of things however revealed that the entire bottom half of the jar had cracked of and therefore pickles-to-be and pickle juice had spread into the water bath. Very sad.

But as I shared the story with Bran I heard the tell-tale popping sound which both startles and delights me as it means the vacuum seal has taken over the jar. 3 out of 4 isn't horrible. Now I was stuck with the task of dumping the recently boiling giant hot pot of lightly pickled water. In attempts to cool things down more quickly I resorted to this set up in the middle of the room. It can also be noted that by this point walking into the living room felt cool, which is not quite right as the thermostat there read 90 which is in fact as high as it is capable of going.

Eventually the pickle chaos was cleaned up and after a break it was Salsa time. If I ever decide to do such a thing again I really ought to buy a food processor. My knife skills are horrible and the exact timing is iffy but I think it probably took me around 2 hours to get all this chopping done. And really I slacked off on a few things and didn't necessarily chop as much as was listed (minced jalapenos I'm looking at you). But here, at long last, was my finished prep. And everything went on the stove.

 Thankfully the Salsa processing went much more smoothly and I ended up with 3 pints, 3 half pints, and 3 little 1/4 pints :-)

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