It feels like fall. Does it feel that way to you, too? The nights have gotten nice and cool (thank you, Mother Nature), and I’m waking up to needing a long sleeve shirt in the morning until the day warms up a bit.
Also, I spent time this weekend making and canning salsa which has become such a fall-ish thing for me to do. I got almost 8 quarts out of 15 large tomatoes. This is one of the big reasons we do a CSA every year. The salsa. They grow lots of tomatoes, hot peppers, onions, cilantro, and garlic. Everything I need to make it. Of course, if I could grow anything in my own garden I would, but we do not get enough sun in our yard to grow our own vegetables. It’s all those beautiful trees I’d admired when we bought this place. The ones I was so happy to have shade us from the summer sun. I didn’t realize that all that lovely shade meant no growing our own vegetables. Sigh. But someday! My farm in the future will have a huge garden overflowing with all we need and more. But I digress . . .
I first made salsa maybe four or five years ago because my kids don’t like the chunky store-bought stuff. But they do like salsa. They’d dip their chips into the salsa and use up all the liquid, leaving a bowl of chunks every time. So I decided to make my own, and make it smooth. Of course it didn’t occur to me to just throw the store bought salsa into a blender. That would have been a quicker, easier solution. But had I done that, we never would have discovered the taste of homemade salsa. Can I tell you? Oh. My. It’s good. It’s so, so good. So much better than anything I can buy. We are now officially spoiled.
So I spend every August now canning salsa. Last year I think I may have made twenty-eight quarts (I can’t recall exactly, but that sounds about right). I marveled at the number and hoped it would last the year. It didn’t. We ran out a couple of months ago.
And here I am again, getting my canning groove on. Though, it doesn’t last long. I *wish* I was one of those people who could just can and can and can. I can….’t. I’m hoping I’ll last long enough to make thirty-some-odd quarts of salsa (which equals probably four more afternoons of salsa making) and some red raspberry jam, which is Torin’s favorite. That’s my goal this year. I think it’s doable.
What about you? What fall-ish things are you doing right now?
EDITED TO ADD: The salsa recipe, as requested.
Now, before I tell you the recipe, I will warn you that I don’t measure everything, and I adjust amounts to taste or texture. Also, I make it in the biggest pot I have in order to fill the most jars in the least amount of time. I call this Lazy Salsa because it is less labor intensive than most recipes since I don’t seed the tomatoes and everything is thrown into the food processor (in small batches of course) because my kids will only eat all of the salsa if it’s smooth. Not being a fan of wasting, I smooth it all out for them.
LAZY SALSA Makes about 8 quarts
about 15 very large tomatoes (or however many you need to fill the pot about 3/4 full)
5-7 hot peppers, any kind*
3-4 med/large onions**
1/2 – 1 cup cilantro (depending on your feelings about cilantro, you can also leave it out if you’re opposed)
5-10 cloves garlic (depending how garlicky you want it–you can also leave it out if garlic is unkind to you)
1 c. apple cider vinegar
2 12-oz cans tomato paste (I like thick salsa, you can make it thinner by using less paste)
salt to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste
*Use enough hot peppers that the salsa is hotter than you’d normally like it–and this takes a taste test–because the spice will mellow after about 3 weeks. So if you get it just right when you cook the salsa, you’ll be disappointed at how not spicy it is when you’re using it weeks or months later. I know. From experience. If I don’t have enough hot peppers on hand to spice it up, then I’ll add some cayenne from the spice rack to make up for it.
**If you use sweet onions, like Vidalia, you’ll have a sweet salsa. I also know this from experience. Not being a fan of sweet salsa, I don’t use them anymore for this recipe. But just so you know, if you want a little added sweetness use Vidalia or the like. No sugar necessary.
1. Wash and core tomatoes. (Leave the seeds in, it’s too much work to seed them too, and why not use it? It makes yummy salsa. And more of it with fewer tomatoes. Win!) Run them through the food processor or blender until smooth, and pour into very large pot (like 8 or 9 qt pot). If you’d prefer chunky salsa, chop them by hand (too much work!), or just pulse in food processor until chunky.
2. Bring tomatoes to boil, and then turn down burner to low. Simmer for about an hour.
3. You can get your onions, hot peppers, garlic, and cilantro ready to go through the food processor, but I’d wait until it’s time to add them before you run it. I’ve made the mistake of processing them right away, then letting them sit in that enclosed container for an hour. When I opened it to pour it into the tomatoes, it just about knocked me over and stung my eyes like you wouldn’t believe.
I run it all until it’s totally smooth, but again, if you’re wanting chunky you can hand chop (too much work!) or pulse it until it’s chunky in the processor (much easier).
A word of caution on the hot peppers–cut and seed them with gloves on so you don’t get the oil on your hands. It stays on hands for so long (really hard to wash off), and you definitely don’t want to cut a hot pepper then touch your face or your eyes. (Or your children.) (And no, I haven’t done that. Yet.)
4. So, after the tomatoes have cooked an hour, add your freshly processed peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro, the vinegar, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Bring back to a boil and then simmer again for 10 minutes.
5. Adjust to taste, and voila! You’re done. (Well almost. You still have to can it.)
I usually have a bowl of ice water, with another bowl sitting in it so I can spoon a little hot salsa into the top bowl. It cools quickly that way and I can taste it to see if it’s spicy and salty to my liking.
6. Pour into hot canning jars. (I heat mine in the oven, because boiling them is just too much work since I use the quart size jars . . . I wasn’t kidding when I called this Lazy Salsa. Put clean jars upside down on a wire rack in a cold oven and turn your oven to 250 degrees F. They should sit at temperature for at least 30 minutes, and then just keep them in there with the oven on until the salsa is ready).
7. Seal with whatever lids you like to use, then process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
Easy and delicioso!
And if you just make this recipe about 5 times, you’ll have enough for my family for a year. (Maybe.)