Preserving the Season's Bounty: Tomatoes

I have found something that I really enjoy doing: canning salsa and stewed tomatoes! It's funny because growing up I never liked tomatoes in any form (except, ketchup of course...but that's a far cry from a tomato!).
However, over the last couple years I've branched out and started using canned tomatoes. I suppose that started as a result of a great Chicken Cacciatore recipe (I make my own version of Lipton Onion Soup now if you want the recipe) that my sister-in-law gave me. After falling in love with that recipe, I decided I really could eat stewed tomatoes after all! It was a baby step for me!

Then last year I decided that I wanted to learn how to can our own tomatoes. So this past spring, my husband planted our very own tomato plants. About 17 in fact!

Now, you still won't catch me eating a fresh tomato (unlike my dad who eats several each day in the summer!). However, I love stewed tomatoes and even better, in salsa (yes, it was this same sister-in-law who got me hooked on salsa too!)

As I mentioned in my cherries post, my friend Rachel gave me my first canning lesson. After that, I decided to try my hand at a salsa recipe given to me by Alison from Canning Crafts. I was still a little unsure of myself, so my Mom came over that first time to give me a few tips. I had such a fun time canning that day with my mom!.

I'm so glad I tried this salsa recipe. (Thanks, Alison!) It was super easy and really gave me a boost of confidence in canning. We eat a lot of salsa around here and I'm glad to have a homemade variety for cheaper than I can buy it at the store. Plus, I know what's in it!

My Mom

I really like the salsa and my husband mentioned several times how much he liked it and that he thought it tasted professional! (What a nice compliment!)

So, if you want to give Alison's recipe a try, here it is:

Yummy Salsa
8 c. peeled, chopped tomatoes
2 1/2 c. onions, chopped
1 1/2 c. green peppers, chopped (I didn't have green, but used orange and yellow)
1 jalapeno pepper (optional)
6 cloves, garlic, chopped (I used my Pampered Chef Garlic Press)
2 t. cumin
2 t. black pepper
2 T. canning salt (found in the canning section at the store)
1/3 c. sugar
1 c. white vinegar
15 oz. tomato sauce
15 oz. tomato paste
1/4 c. cilantro (optional)

Combine all ingredients together and bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Put in hot water bath 15 minutes for pints, or 20 minutes for quarts. Recipe usually yields 8 pints.

It's a great recipe and an easy one to help you get your feet wet with canning. :)

Also, I should share a tip for getting the peals off of your tomatoes. (Something I did not know my first time around!). If you blanch your tomatoes, the peels will come right off!

Simply boil a big pot of water. While you're waiting for it to boil, prepare another large bowl of cold water and ice cubes. Once your pot is almost to a boil (not necessary to have a complete boil) carefully plop your tomatoes in. Wait about 30-60 seconds and then scoop them out with a slotted spoon. Place them quickly into the cold water. After a few seconds, take them out and place them on a clean towel until you can peel them. The skins will slip right off.

This process is also supposed to work for peaches. I say "supposed to" because I didn't have a lot of success with it. Partly because the first time I canned peaches, I didn't know I was supposed to wait until they were ripe (we canned them the day we got them...) Basically, we ended up having to peel them all by hand. It will probably take the peaches a little longer in the hot water (a couple minutes or more), but then do the same thing and put them in the cold water. Be sure to take them out shortly thereafter. It's not good to let them soak in the water.

Do you have any other great (but easy!) canning recipes you can share? I'd love to learn more! Did you find this post helpful? I'd love to know!

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