Year Round Canning!

I love putting food in jars. I love looking at food in jars. I love looking at Pinterest for recipes to put more food in jars. I’m a little obsessed, I know! Don’t act surprised. It’s in the name of the website after all! Pfft…

My canning obsession probably started with the garden. Some veggies just call for canning. The tomatoes I don’t eat like an apple, standing right in the garden? Canned. The beets that don’t get roasted in foil with balsamic vinegar? Canned. The beans that Lola the dog and I don’t eat raw? Canned. The garlic that we can’t eat fast enough before it gets soft? Canned. The asparagus that I started 2 years ago and (hopefully) will be able to start harvesting this year? Will be canned! Some of my harvest is pickled and canned, some is just plain old pressure canned.

But if the canning started with the garden, what am I year round canning? Who has a fresh harvest in January when it’s 14 degrees outside? Me! I do! OK, you got me. It’s not exactly fresh. But very close!

See this kid being amazing? It’s what I did instead of canning my fresh produce this year. And I loved every second of it! (She was safe, by the way. My kid is fast!)

I did some easy small batch canning in the thick of travel softball season. Think pickled beets and pickled garlic. But big batch tomatoes? No time! All my canning tomatoes (not to be confused with my eating like an apple tomatoes) go right into freezer bags and into the chest freezer. It is a method I have read about but never tried. I frequently use this great blog for knowledgeable canning advice. And in this post link she shares how easy it is to peel your frozen tomatoes for canning.

This year I was scaling down the size of the garden. Spending every other weekend on a softball field (for me, at least) is awesome! But it does not lead to a beautiful plentiful garden. So I tried some new varieties that were smaller plants and also purchased fewer plants. I found a new tomato in my garden center that I had never heard of before, Little Nopoli. They are very compact and are a Roma variety, great for canning. I only bought three of them. I would only get 5-6 tomatoes at a time. And it would take a while at that rate to collect enough tomatoes to make it worth a canning session. So into storage bags and into the chest freezer they went!

Now back to my winter canning. I may use the frozen tomato method from now on! It was amazingly easy to peel my frozen tomatoes. In previous years, I have used the cut an X in the bottom of your tomato and dip in boiling water, method to peel. It creates a time involved extra step to canning tomatoes. This year I pulled my tomatoes out of the freezer and simply ran under a trickle of lukewarm water and the skins slipped right off! It was a miracle sent down from the tomato Gods!

See my pile of peels? I remembered reading someplace on Pinterest that tomato paste can be made from dehydrated tomato peels. Simply dehydrate and give them a whirl in the food processor. Then when you need tomato paste, mix tomato peel powder with water. My inner ADHD brain decided to try this in the midst of my easy canning session. This type of stuff is why my house is a cluttered mess and I don’t get to bed on time. (One project at a time dammit! Concentrate!) For the record, I give this Pinterest idea a big NOPE! Those dehydrated tomato peels turned into tomato plastic that would not mix with water, had no tomato flavor and had no place anywhere near my food. If you’ve had good luck with this idea, please comment below and tell me what I may have done wrong. But I don’t think I’m wrong. Just saying…

Sidetracked again! Back to canning! I used the hot pack method to can my tomatoes. I cut my semi frozen tomatoes in half and squeezed out the innards. I threw them in a stock pot and started to warm them. The first few cups I crushed. But as I added more, the cooking process broke them down. When I had all the tomatoes in a pot, I ladled them into properly sterilized, hot jars. I pressure canned them according to the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning processing times. Ball’s guide to canning is also a trusted source.

Lets talk about canning safety people. There are some serious rules to follow to safely can your food. (I may have to write a whole blog post about this, it is so serious. And I am very rarely serious.)

  1. High acid foods can be water bath canned. They can also be pressure canned.
  2. Low acid foods have to be pressure canned. They absolutely cannot under any circumstances be water bath canned. Unless you want botulism…
  3. Botulism CAN KILL YOU.

Leave it to the experts to make the rules for your canning, whether water bath or pressure canning. It is just not worth the risk.

So that’s my post on ONE thing I’m canning year round. What else do I can year round? Stock/bone broth! I’ll leave that to another post. And check out the post where I made Chipolte Tomatillo Salsa. This is a very easy, readily available veggie, year round canning recipe.

Thanks for stopping in!

Chipotle Tomatillo Salsa

I am in full-on squirrel mode.  As in, I am really excited about putting food in storage.  I am canning and freezing things as fast as I can.  I canned 14 pints of pickled beets and froze and bagged 4 gallon sized bags of par cooked and sliced beets.   My garden has seen better years.  But my garden is beet strong every year!

Tomatillos are another crop that are silly easy to grow.  I can usually find them in a 3 pack at the greenhouse.  I have previously planted all 3, not knowing how plentiful tomatillo plants are. I cannot STAND to throw away a plant from the greenhouse, even when I know I don’t have room for it.  It breaks my little gardener’s heart.  All of the produce potential tossed to the wayside!

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A view of planting day, before the weeds and chaos takes over…

This year Bill was providing me with margaritas while watching me fill my garden.  I’m not sure what the occasion was that required margaritas in the garden that day, but who’s complaining?!  When it came to the tomatillos, Bill reminded me we only need one plant.  I sent him into the house to refill my glass and popped another tomatillo plant in the dirt!  The margaritas told me that made the most sense.  A month later I spent the afternoon, margarita free, constructing a cage to contain the tomatillos.  They took over the peppers and were threatening to ravage the tomatoes.  Lesson learned?  Margaritas are great in the garden!  And yes, you really only need one tomatillo.  Unless you’re opening a salsa factory…

The salsa I made last year ended up being kind of sweet.  I had to freeze it because the acidity level wasn’t high enough for it to be a water bath canned salsa.  The end result was good.  But not spicy enough and kind of watery when I defrost it.  I’ve been straining it and adding to cottage cheese for a snack.  I’ll throw it into Mexican style soups this winter.

This year I upped the heat and used a new recipe sent from my cousin, who loves to put food in jars as much as I do.  It is from the All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving.  This book is in my Amazon cart.   I’ll read it when the snow is flying to keep my garden dreams alive.

Chipotle Tomatillo Salsa is very easy to make, requires few ingredients and you can whip up a batch or two in an afternoon.  So you didn’t get over served and plant too many tomatillo plants in your garden?!  It’s ok.  While not as good as home grown (my opinion only) tomatillos are available at the grocery store, usually about $2.99 a pound.  The chipotle peppers in adobo sauce can be found with the Mexican food.  They add the perfect amount of heat and smokey flavor.  I doubled this recipe.  You do not have to have a garden to make this salsa and it is a perfect beginner and small batch canning recipe.

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Chipotle Tomatillo Salsa

  • 2 lbs. fresh tomatillos, husks removed
  • 1 small onion, unpeeled and quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 to 4 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (I used 3)
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.  Arrange tomatillos, stem side down, and onions, skin side down on a baking sheet.  Wrap garlic cloves in a small piece of aluminum foil and place on baking sheet.
  2. Bake for 20 minutes or until tomatillos and onions are beginning to char and soften.  Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack to cool.  When vegetables are cool enough to handle, remove onion peels and add to food processor.  Add juice and remaining ingredients, process until pureed.
  3. Transfer mixture to a large stainless steal or enameled saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.
  4. Ladle hot salsa into a hot jar, leaving 1/2 inch head space.  Remove air bubbles, wipe jar rim.  Center lid on jar rim.  Apply band and adjust to finger tip-tight.  Place jar in boiling water canner.  Repeat until all jars are filled.
  5. Process jars for 25 minutes, adjusting for altitude.  Turn off and remove lid.  Let jars stand 5 minutes.  Remove jars and cool.

 

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Finished product!  It’s a little sweet and smokey.  So pretty in the jar!  I made and doubled this recipe twice.  And BOTH times I forgot to take a picture of my charred vegetables.  Rookie blogger mistakes…