1) School is back in full swing, and I'm crazed.
2) I am sick as a dog with the allergies and hay fever (damn ragweed!).
3) Every "free" moment I have is spent with another canning project--they never end at this time of year! And I'd like to share a few winners with you in the thick of this harvest season.
Pictured above are three faaaabulous preserving recipes that, once again, I gleaned from the wonderful GardenWeb Harvest Forum. To the left is the famous Annie's Salsa. One batch made eight pints, and man, is it good! This recipe has taken on mythic fame on the Harvest Forum, and I secretly thought to myself, how good can it really be? Well, I've already decided to make a second batch this week, if that tells you anything! It's a very basic salsa with no bells and whistles, but it's just delicious. There is another version of the same recipe where you swap out a quart of peaches for one quart of the tomatoes to make a "Peach Twist Salsa." I might try that, too, before all of the local peaches are gone.
Pictured in the center is a refrigerator pickle (no processing required) called "Tomates-Cerises a L'Aigre-Doux." That's pickled cherry tomatoes to you, but isn't it much nicer in French? If you find yourself inundated with far too many cherry tomatoes, this is a great recipe to preserve them, plus, the jars look so pretty! Just make sure to use very firm tomatoes (preferably, of different shapes and colors), and though the recipe didn't call for it, I threw in a few small onions, a few cloves of garlic, and a tiny pepper or two for good measure. Furthermore, I didn't have any fresh tarragon, so I used marjoram and thyme in mine, but you can whatever herb you have on hand and/or prefer. You can also choose from many different vinegars. I used mostly cider vinegar but with some tarragon white wine vinegar as well. Mix it up and have fun with it!
Lastly, because I was recently complaining about drowning in zucchini, a lovely gal from the Harvest Forum left a comment on my blog recommending that I try a recipe for Roasted Corn and Zucchini Salsa (pictured on the right), so I made a triple batch and got seven pints for my efforts, which I must tell you were substantial. The cutting and chopping took roughly a year and half (Annie's Salsa did, too, for that matter), but the labor was darn well worth it. The salsa is very tasty, especially if you love things limey, and I surely do (starting with my first crush as a child on Jack Wild, "Jimmy" from H.R. Pufnstuf, but that's another Oprah show)!
Here are the recipes for your canning enjoyment:
(Source: GardenWeb's Harvest Forum)
8 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped and drained (I didn't bother peeling mine, but I did scoop out the gel and seeds from each tomato before chopping)
2 1/2 cups onion, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped green pepper (I used some sort of large, mild chilies for this--the lady at the farmers' market that I bought them from didn't know their proper name)
3 – 5 chopped jalapeños (I used a mix of jalapeños, serranos, cayennes, and super chilies to make it a little hotter and give it a a slightly more complex flavor)
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/8 cup canning salt (kosher will work, too, but you might need a little more of it--taste to be sure)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (this is optional if you don't like cilantro)
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup vinegar for water bath canning or 1/3 cup vinegar for a pressure canner (I used white vinegar, but you could use cider or red wine vinegar for extra sweetness)
16 ounces tomato sauce
16 ounces tomato paste
Mix all ingredients, bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes. Pour into hot jars, process at 10 lbs of pressure for 30 minutes for pints. Or in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
Makes 6 pints (I got 7!)
Pickled Cherry Tomatoes (Tomates-Cerises a l'Aigre-Doux)
(Source: GardenWeb's Harvest Forum)
Makes 1 quart
1 quart water
2 tablespoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt
1 pound FIRM (almost under-ripe) cherry tomatoes (round and plum varieties of all colors can be used)
2 cups cider vinegar
1/4 cup granulated sugar or more (to taste)
2 sprigs fresh summer savory or tarragon (or fresh herb of your choosing)
12 black peppercorns
In a large bowl, combine the water and salt, and stir to dissolve the salt. Prick the bottom of each tomato once with a clean needle. Place the tomatoes in the salt brine, cover and marinate for 24 hours at room temperature.
In a large saucepan, combine the vinegar and sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring just to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and cool thoroughly.
Remove the tomatoes from the salt brine and drain thoroughly. Discard the salt brine.
Carefully place the tomatoes in a 1-quart canning jar. Arrange the herbs and peppercorns around the edges of the jar. Pour the vinegar-sugar mixture over the tomatoes. Secure the jar tightly. Let sit in the refrigerator for 3 weeks before tasting.
Serve as a pickle, or as an appetizer, with toothpicks to spear.
Roasted Corn and Zucchini Salsa
(adapted from Preserving the Harvest)
Note: The ingredients below only make two pints, so you may wish to double or triple the recipe.
3 medium zucchini, cleaned, trimmed, and diced (I used shredded zucchini)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ears yellow corn, husked, silks removed
2 teaspoon olive oil
2 large tomatoes, seeded & chopped
1 cup fresh lime juice (I used bottled as I was tripling the recipe and couldn't be bothered to squeeze enough limes to make three cups!)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 jalapeño chilies, seeded & minced (again, I used a mix of hot peppers)
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Toss the zucchini with the salt and "sweat" for 1/2 hour in a non-reactive colander. Rinse and dry.
Coat corn with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and roast on a cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes (until lightly browned). Cool & cut off kernels from cobs. (I cut the kernels off before roasting; it was easier.)
Combine the zucchini, corn, remaining oil, tomatoes, lime juice, vinegar, jalapeños, scallions, garlic, cumin and pepper in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Ladle into hot jars, leaving 1 inch head space, and cap and seal. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
FOLLOW-UP: Upon opening and sampling this salsa, I must confess that I found it EXTREMELY limey and too acidic-tasting overall for my tastes. However, I came up with a quick fix. Now when I open a (pint) jar, I empty it into a mesh strainer to drain off some of the liquid, then I combine the corn and zucchini salsa with one 15-oz. can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes before serving. Then it's perfectly yummy.