Hello Autumn! Hello Apples!!!

I have not kept this blog updated as we were busy moving from the hot humid south to our home in Oregon. We arrived just in time for the beauty of fall, my favorite season! The bounty of harvest, pumpkins, squash and apples! We could never have enough apples to preserve, my family will go through every jar of applesauce well before the season ends. It happens every year!

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Why so many apples you ask? Well for a myriad of reasons! First, unsweetened smooth applesauce is a wonderful replacement for oil in recipes! Use it to replace all or part of the oil in your favorite cake or bread recipe. This will make it a bit more dense and more moist so beware of that, however we love the texture even more. This is especially good in carrot or spice cakes and muffins! Then we always do some chunky applesauce mixed with cinnamon for eating with meals. This is great with breakfast, alongside a pork roast or baked chicken! I don’t add sugar or sweetener to applesauce but some people do. Feel free to add honey, sucanat, rapadura, brown sugar or granulated. You get to decide! Isn’t that fun! Finally we do several jars of apple slices in sugar and cinnamon. I used to do these with clear jel and you can do that that too! I personally didn’t enjoy the texture as much so we stopped mixing them with a thickener. Also, we like these for layering into cakes, putting into pancakes or waffles or mixing into muffins so we don’t always want them thick.

There is much discussion on what apples are the best for eating, cooking, saucing and preserving. You can easily google that and get more information then you will ever need. Here is the “mom in me” version. The best apples are free or cheap apples. For the last twenty years I have gleaned apples from abandoned orchards, bruised or “seconds” from markets or neighbors trees. I haven’t always asked what kind they are because I have discovered that as long as you use a good variety of apples, the end result is pretty darn good. If it is sour, add a sweetener, or cinnamon, or nutmeg… or whatever you like! Now, if that is absolutely not an option for you, then go ahead and do some research on the best kinds for saucing/canning. I do suggest you still get a variety to balance flavors.

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For our project, we met an eccentric farmer who shared multiple kinds of apples he grows organically. I told him we were new to area and wanted to obtain some in bulk form. He delivered! We ended up with 128 pounds of apples for 40.00!

For making applesauce, the process is either very simple, or more complicated, but still simple (just more elbow grease!). I have an attachment that turns my handy dandy kitchenaide into a strainer. This means I do not have to peel or core my apples, it does that work for me. For chunky applesauce, I use the minnions children and put them to work!

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We do have a apple peeler/corer thingy. Here is my view after using three of them over the years. I don’t like them. However the kids LOVE them, so we break it out, it’s a big deal, everybody takes turns and about the time the juice is dripping everywhere, it’s sliding around the counter and the apples that aren’t perfect shaped are falling off, we give up. Then we move back to our handy veggie peelers and paring knives. However they do make for interesting looking apples!

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 If you have a strainer, then its simple. Wash your apples up. Quarter them and drop them into the biggest pot you have. I have a pot almost as large as my waterbath canner. When its full, add 2-3 quarts of water (less if its a small pot), pop the top off and cook them until mushy! It may get a bit frothy on top, I just keep pushing the apples on top to the bottom until its good and soft everywhere!

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If you do not have a strainer, then you should peel and quarter your apples, then drop them into the biggest pot you have, add 2-3 quarts of water (less if its a small pot) and cook until they get bubbly and mushy!

If your using the strainer… it will look something like this! The one complaint I have about the kitchenaide strainer is the height of it, which can make pouring the apples in difficult. We place it on the bench to compensate for that. Apples go into the top, sauce comes out one side, and the bowl next to the sauce holds the skins and seeds!

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If not, then you have two options! For smooth applesauce you can use a blender or a food processor. This is HOT so be careful and protect yourself! Either way, in the end you will have something that looks like this!  For chunky applesauce, begin mashing with a potato masher until the texture you desire. I actually do one pot of pureed to one pot of chunky for a smooth chunky sauce (did that make sense? no…. )

So now you have sauced all the apples! You need to get all your sauce back into the pan and bring this to a boil. This is when you would add seasoning or sugar, honey, syrup or other sweetener of your choice. When your applesauce comes to a boil, pour this into your hot jars, slip a plastic spoon handle into sides of sauce to make sure bubbles are out. Wipe the rims, add the caps then process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes (pints) or 20 minutes (quarts)

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While that is bubbling away, you can work on your apple slices! I have perfected the way to make this easy (Ok, I didn’t really invent it but it makes sense to me!) Peel your apples using the apple peeler, or a veggie peeler… knife… whatever works for your home. Drop the apples into a bucket of water with some lemon juice or fruit fresh to keep your color bright.  Notice that I have some bruising on my apples? This is fine! It won’t affect the overall product. If it has a lot of bruising I would cut it off, but a little won’t hurt!

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Then the fun part! Slice your “cheeks” off your apples

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Then the sides to make a fun little square. Ok. I’m easily amused. Forgive me…. 128 pounds of apples can do that. .

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Then slice those cheeks and sides into slices. We prefer ours about 1/2 inch thick. Drop these back into the lemon water to keep the color.

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Make a light syrup however you want. I do 5 cups water, 1.5 cups rapadura (a natural sugar) OR 1.5 cups honey. I drop in approximately 2 tbsp. cinnamon and bring to a boil. Once this is boiling add your apples and boil for five minutes. I have skipped this step before. Bad. Very bad. They puffed up and exploded all over, the texture was terrible. Don’t make bad choices. Friends don’t let friends raw pack apples. Please cook them five full minutes.

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Then, as with the applesauce, drop into hot jars, release all air bubbles, wipe the tops, add lids, and place into BWB for 20 minutes (pints and quarts ).

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Now, you have worked all day, you have a counter full of jars and you realize you have a bucket of cores and peels. You don’t want that to go to waste right?? Good thing you have options! The first option is to make apple peel jelly, the second is to make apple juice. I would not recommend making this if your apples are not organic. Apples are one product that is highly sprayed with chemicals, and even with the best washing, you will not be able to get the chemicals gone. However, if you have organic apples, these are great options.

The first is apple peel jelly. This is a mild flavored jelly. You do not need pectin as apples are very high in pectin naturally. I am providing a recipe, but did not make jelly with this batch so I do not have pics  (next time, promise!)

APPLE CORE JELLY

Cores and peels from apples (recipe will change depending on volume)

Sugar

Lemon Juice

Cover your apple cores and peels with just enough water to peek through the top layer. Simmer for approximately one hour until the peels and cores are disintegrated. Pour this through a colander or strainer to separate the liquid from the solids. For each cup liquid, add one half cup of sugar and one tablespoon lemon juice. Return to pot and boil until reduced and thick, stirring often, approximately 45 minutes. When this has reached the gel point (thickens on a frozen plate) then you are ready to pour into hot jars, cap with lids and process in a BWB for 10 minutes.

Apple Juice

I have found that we can SO much jelly that we ultimately don’t use the apple jelly. I am not sure why this is but it is. Instead, we take all the scraps and cover them in water, the same way you would do for jelly. We simmer it, then strain it through two colanders (one larger holes, one smaller). In the end we have apple “juice” which is more water then juice, but its flavored nicely and the kids think its pretty special! It also makes a good base for other canning projects! We usually drink this right up but you can also bring to a simmer, pour into jars and cap, then process in BWB for 20 minutes (pints and quarts).

Last but not least, I did not post an apple butter recipe. I think this deserves a blog of its own. The short version? Chop you apples, peels and all, place in a crock pot, add 1-2 cups brown sugar, honey or rapadura and cook forever. When this breaks down to half, add some more, and some cinnamon, and nutmeg…. Blog to follow!

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Berries are Beautiful

We love berries in this house! Any we can get our hands upon, Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Huckleberries… if Berry is in the name, we are likely to have it stuck in a jar somewhere. One of the great things about berries is you can intermix recipes easily to get a variety of flavors! Here is the makings of a razzleberry jam! Berries are such a frugal way to perk up your pantry! When they come on sale, watch for the deals at your local growers markets, from grocery stores (I found organic raspberries for 1.00 a pound at a local big box store!) or from the wild (wild blackberries!). When you have these stuck back on your pantry shelf, they give a fun surprise for the middle of February when everything is dark and grey! Sure beats paying the high cost at the grocery store that time of year too!

 

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Freezing Berries

I love to have frozen berries and nothing could be simpler! Frozen berries are perfect for a smoothie, just combine with milk and a frozen banana, a dollop of yogurt and honey, blend and happy children ensue! Toss that into a popsicle mold and children are even more happy! When freezing berries, just rinse them well, lay them on a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze. Once solidly frozen, slide these right into freezer bags and into the freezer they go. You can remove however many you need at a time.

 

Dehydrating Berries

 

Berries are also just as wonderful dehydrated! I have an Excalibur 9 tray, the granddaddy of dehydrators and it will dehydrate them in no time. Most berries can be placed right onto the trays, blueberries need to be blanched first OR frozen! There you go! Pop your frozen berries onto dehydrator trays and soon you have dehydrated berries perfect for granola, hot cereal or to get baked into muffins!

 

Canning Berries

When it comes to canning, some berries hold up better then others. I love to make strawberry preserves and jam, and they are heavenly sliced and dehydrated but I am not a fan of the texture of them canned. Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and huckleberries hold up well when preserved. Raspberries are very delicate and will fall apart somewhat, but they are still delicious over ice cream! You can hot pack or cold pack berries. We cold pack because it is quicker and we have not noticed a significant difference in the jars.

 Simple Berries in Syrup

First, Mix your syrup. You can use whatever you like but a light syrup of 5 3/4 cups water to 1 3/4 cups sugar is a mixture that won’t overwhelm the berry. Set this to simmer, then fill 1/2 cup in the bottom of your jars. Fill jars with berries and cover with remaining syrup. Make sure you release all air bubbles as there usually is quite a bit! Wipe rims, cap with 1/2 inch headspace and process in BWB 15 minutes for pints and 20 minutes for quarts. Simple!

Raspberries in light syrup. Ignore the bad picture and headpace, it is 1/2 inch but I have the jar tilted back. Never sold you on my photography skills 😀

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If it is syrup for pancakes, ice cream sundays or to drizzle over a cake you are wanting, then here is a great blueberry syrup recipe! You could substitute other berries for the blueberry and have similar results.

Blueberry syrup

2 quarts blueberries

5 cups water 2 cups sugar (or half honey)

3 tbsp bottled lemon juice

Zest from lemon

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix berries, water and sugar. Bring to boil, boil 5 minutes. Add lemon juice, zest and cinnamon. If you want a smooth syrup, you can strain through a strainer or cheesecloth. We prefer ours with fruit, so I mash with a potato masher, leaving about half of the fruit whole. Fill your hot pint jars with syrup, wipe rims, cap with 1/2 inch headspace and process in BWB for 15 minutes. This is delicious!

Blueberry syrup! Amazing over ice cream or pancakes!

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Berry Pie Filling

We keep a few jars of this available. I actually prefer to thicken my filling when I make the pie, but it is handy to have this when you want to make pie, turnovers, tarts or pipe into cupcakes! This makes for a frugal and fun treat! Often in the winter when kids have been stuck in the house for days I will break out a jar of something summery and fun, let the kids make their own crusts and bake them, it breaks the monotony and gives a little sparkle of summer!

The important thing to remember is that you are not able to use flour or cornstarch in canning. I know that everybody used to do this but the NCHFP (National Centers for Home Food Preservation) says this is a no-no. If they say its not ok, well I listen. Part of this is due to safety and heat penetration but also part is quality as these products break down. Instead you need to use Clear Jel. You can buy this online at several locations. I personally am very concerned about GMO’s in my home, and since one of the top GMO produces is corn (which is what Clear Jel is made from) I choose to buy a non GMO version called Cornaby’s. I found mine at Amazon.

Pie filling is simple! Begin with simmer your berries in water for one minute, drain and set aside to keep warm. Combine sugar and Clear Jel® or Cornaby’s in a large pan and mix well. Add your water to the mixture and mix well, then cook on medium until this begins to thicken up. Fold your warm berries in and cook until bubbling. Add your lemon juice, and boil one minute. Immediately place this into hot jars, remove air bubbles, wipe your rims and cap, leaving 1 inch headspace. Process in BWB for 30 minutes (pints and quarts)

Each quart

3 1/2 cups berries

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup water

1/4 cup Clear Jel or Cornabys

4 tsp lemon juice.

Raspberry Pie filling, Raspberry in syrup and Raspberry jelly

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Carrots … roots of the meal

 Carrot’s really aren’t sexy. They aren’t amazing, they won’t wow you and you likely don’t wake up at night thinking about all you can do with a carrot. They are more in the category of old jeans and well worn sneakers. Always there and dependable but often not thought of.

 We love carrots in our home though! They are such a staple of a frugal diet. Carrots are awesome snacks fresh, pureed, sautéed, stewed, however you want them. I prefer my carrots fresh but as a single mom, there is more nights then I care to think about that I walk in the door at 6pm and realize I forgot to take out dinner, or get veggies for the side dish, or it’s late and I can’t imagine cooking at this moment. Times like that I lean towards our canned foods. I have found that I prefer to can my vegetables separately and then create meals later. Most of the canning recipe’s that are tested and approved aren’t as delicious as my own recipes, so I create them separately and mix at the last moment.

Enter carrots. A quart of carrots quickly gets sautéed with a pat of butter and brown sugar for glazed carrots, or sautéed in butter with some green onions and a dollop of sour cream for creamed carrots. I can half carrots and half potatoes together, toss in olive oil and do a quick bake or broil for “roasted” veggies or chopped with a chicken breast for a pot pie.  The possibilities are endless. Having these stocked away on the shelf allows for a multitude of side dishes within moments.

First, I would really recommend using organic carrots. These will be cooked and soak up the water for months… carrots are usually on the “dirty dozen” list. You really don’t want your carrots in a chemical bath do you? I buy my bags of carrots from Azure Standard for canning. They are uniform, straight and most importantly, they are organic and affordable! This 25 pound bag of carrots was 24.00. I ended up with 11 quarts carrots, 3 quarts carrots/potatoes and 7 pints pickled carrots. Also had a pound or two that became fresh eating.

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First, you want to peel all of those carrots! Wash them up, peel them, then wash them up again! At this time you can slice them, dice them, chunk them… endless choices. I do some of my carrots in larger chunks for stews and hearty meals and the rest I slice in smaller slices for sautéing. Make sure you save the end pieces you chop off. Toss them in a container in your freezer and use at a later time for broth! (Will add that post soon!)

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Next you want to jar these up. Use your funnel and let your kids jump in to help. This is one area they can really get involved with. Let them fill the jars, packed snugly and leave one inch headspace. If you are going to add salt, do this at this time (1/2 tsp for a pint, 1 tsp to quart). Fill with boiling water, use plastic spatula to jiggle all those carrots into place. You will be surprised how much they will shift once the water is in them!

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If you want, you could mix potatoes and carrots together. The difference with potatoes is you need to peel them, then pop in boiling water for ten minutes before you add to the carrots. you can do them separate as well. I like them together because that is the perfect amount for a  Chicken Pot Pie!

 

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Now that you have your vegetables in a jar, salt and boiling water added. Simply wipe your rim, cap and place into your pressure cooker. Important to note that carrots, potatoes or other vegetables MUST be canned in a pressure canner. There is absolutely no safe way to do these in a boiling water bath… “buy my gramma …” yes. I understand that grandmothers and amish do it and are fine. Very simple food safety here. Botulism thrives in anaerobic environments (like a sealed jar of food) and in low acid foods (like a vegetable or meat). You can’t sea it, smell it or taste it. It is sneaky that way. Maybe gramma canned for 80 years but never came in contact with a bot toxin. She was lucky and blessed but if you do the same thing and a bot toxin happens to be there… you are in serious trouble my friend. Be safe. Pressure canning is really quite easy. You can find videos all about it or go to my facebook page and group page and we will be happy to encourage you Preserving the Harvest Facebook We have a spectacular groups page and love to help new canners!

That being said… Now that your jars are ready, pop them in your pressure canner, follow your particular canners directions. Process your carrots for 25 minutes (pints) or 30 minutes (quarts).

IF you added potatoes, then process for 35 minutes (pints) or 40 minutes (quarts).

 

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At the end of the day, sit back, relax and enjoy your beautiful jars! Carrots may not be beautiful but they are functional and a wonderful staple to have in your pantry!

 

Peachy Peachy Peachy – Canned, Salsa and BBQ!

We love peaches, love them in cottage cheese, ice cream, yogurt, on pancakes… love them sweet, love them spicy, love them any way you can bring them.

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Need I say more? Really?

While I do think that I have the best salsa recipe ever, I also recognize that sometimes a sweet salsa can have a place. This salsa can be delicious over chicken, fish, with chips, fruit chunks or eaten with bites of crackers, carrots or whatever else happens to be available in the absence of tortilla chips (or so I have heard).

Then again, if your going to put salsa on chicken… why not just make peach barbecue sauce?

Or heck, just plain peaches.

Anyway you go, its just peachy. Ok. Now I am corny. Orange you glad I am stopping? Seriously (I’m even rolling my own eyes now).

In our home, we can a lot of peaches. If you have ever done this, you know when you are done stuffing all the peaches into jars there are always bits left over that didn’t fit, got mushy, didn’t peel right or whatever the case may be. We keep these set aside in a bowl and they become one of these three recipes. I didn’t take pictures of all of them because we had 60 pounds of peaches and I was going to go for it while I had helpers!

Basic idea of canned peaches is to dip your peaches in boiling hot water. I leave mine in about 30 seconds then lift out and put into cold water. The skins will slip right off. Most people cut them in half and layer them in beautiful wide mouth jars but I am a rebel. Well, not really but I prefer to cut mine in quarters because it provides kids more pieces, its easier to stuff a jar and its a whole lot quicker to fill jars this way.  I drop mine into a large bowl with a gallon of water and a splash of lemon juice. Other people like absorbic acid. Whatever you choose is fine!

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I’d rather have a full jar then a pretty jar.  Bad in the world of canning I know but honestly, they go on the shelf in the basement and nobody sees them. I am more about moving quick and when the kids are helping … well this is something they can do. I’m not picky. I won’t win a blue ribbon but my kids think I am awesome so that counts!

You can preserve your peaches in water, though the texture and flavor may be reduced. You can use apple juice or white grape juice. I typically just do a light syrup of 5 1/2 cups water to 2 cups sugar. Simmer this up, pour over your peaches, leave 1/2 inch headspace. Process in BWB for 25 minutes (pints) or 30 minutes (quarts)

Not Pretty – Don’t Tell!

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Peach Sauce

The idea is simple. Chop up all your leftover pieces of peaches that are mushy, soft, bruised, ugly, didn’t peel… whatever. Pop them into your jars and add 1/2 tsp cinnamon to pints or 1 tsp cinnamon to quarts. Fill these up with whatever syrup you are using. I typically use a light syrup of 5 cups water and 2 cups sugar or 1 cup sugar and 1 cup honey. Brown sugar, rapadura or other sugars work well here. Cop with 1/2 inch head space and process in BWB for 25 minutes (pints) or 30 minutes (quarts). This is delicious heated up and poured over waffles!

Peach Salsa

This recipe is from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. The only change I made was to add 1/3 cup of lime juice.

Cilantro without lime juice is just wrong. Seriously wrong.

I typically chop all my peppers, onions and herbs before I start. I swear I had a picture of this but I am completely unable to find it now. When that is done, set aside in large bowl. Add all ingredients except the peaches.  Cut and measure your peaches right into the bowl, mixing as you go to let the vinegar continue preserving the color of the peaches.

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Combine all ingredients, bring to a boil over medium heat, stir constantly. Boil gently for about 5 minutes.  The color goes away quickly, but magic does start to happen! This is a terrible pic, but its a pic nonetheless. You get the idea!

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Ladle into jars with 1/2 inch head space, cap and process in BWB for 15 minutes.

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Peach Salsa (Ball Book of Complete Home Preserving)

1/2 cup vinegar

6 cups chopped, skinned peaches

1 1/2 cup red onion

4 Jalapenos, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro

2 tbsp. honey

1 clove garlic, chopped fine

1 1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne

Combine vinegar, peaches, and remaining ingredients. Bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Ladle hot salsa into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch head space. Process in BWB for 15 minutes. This makes eight 8 ounce jars.

*Note – I add 1/3 cup lime juice to this. It does not change consistency and the acidity level is high so this doesn’t harm the overall acidity level.

Finally Zesty Peach Barbecue Sauce!

This is AMAZING! I have used this over pork loin, chicken breasts both baked in the oven and grilled. It is very similar to the salsa, so I will just provide the recipe.

salsa

6 cups chopped pitted peeled peaches

1 cup finely chopped seeded red bell pepper

1 cup finely chopped onion

3 tbsp. finely chopped garlic

1 1/4 cups honey

3/4 cups cider vinegar

1 tbsp. cinder vinegar

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp hot pepper flakes

2 tsp dry mustard

2 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients  in large saucepan. Reduce heat and boil gently until consistency of barbecue sauce (this will remain chunkier and not smooth as it is not pureed) about 25 minutes. Ladle hot sauce into hot jars. Cap and leave 1/2 inch headspace. Process in BWB for 15 minutes.

Salsa Oh Salsa

 

 

 

I am sharing the worlds greatest salsa recipe with you today. Seriously, it is so perfect I will never share another salsa recipe again. Except the peach salsa. And the Mango. And the chipotle… but well… for a regular salsa, this is the best! I can’t take credit for it. If you have been in the canning world for long you likely know about Gardenweb’s harvest page. They have amazing recipes and support there. An amazing epic hero of mine Annie created this recipe and fought to get this recipe tested and approved through her local extension. I heart Annie. I know of zero other facts about her other then she made my world wonderful. I have been making this salsa several years and have not found anything that is remotely near as wonderful.

First important fact. There are very little changes that can be made to this and still have a tested approved recipe. I will list the options at the bottom.

Second important fact. Buy extra jars. Prepare for people to think you are a culinary genius and ask for more.

Third important fact. I don’t know. I was going for something and lost it. It’s 5 am and the baby has me up. Forgive me.

 

First, gather your tomatoes, cilantro, peppers and other ingredients. This takes quite a bit of chopping. I have made it in the food processor before, but I prefer the small diced chunks more then the tiny particles from the food processor. To easily peel your tomatoes, drop into a pot of boiling water for 1 minute, the skins will start to split. Drop your tomatoes into cold water (we fill the kitchen sink with cold water and works great) The skins will peel off. This recipe calls for 8 cups of chopped tomato. You can use any tomato you like, I do a mixture of slicing tomatoes and paste tomatoes because I like the consistency.

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Next, combine all the ingredients into a large pot. In this particular instance I tripled the batch and placed in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil for ten minutes.

Deliciousness in a pot. Yes.

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When this has boiled for ten minutes, you place into pints or half pints, with 1/2 inch head space. wipe rims, cap and process in a BWB for 15 minutes. There is no safe time set for quarts so stick with your pints.

When they have cooled. You will have beauty like no other.

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Amazing Annie’s Salsa

8 cups chopped peeled tomatoes

2 1/2 cup chopped onion

1 1/2 cup chopped green/yellow/red pepper

3-5 jalapenos

6 cloves garlic

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp pepper

1/8 cup salt

1/4 cup cilantro

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup total bottled lime juice, bottled lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

16 ounce tomato paste

16 ounce tomato sauce

*** SOME changes can safely take place ***

You can use any kind of pepper you wish, so long as it does not exceed the 1 1/2 cups

You can reduce onion, pepper or garlic but you can not increase it

You can omit cilantro, but you can not increase it

You can omit tomato sauce

My Tips

I personally have made this a ton of ways. I find that I like a mixture of 2 parts bottled lime juice and 1 part apple cider vinegar. White vinegar does not taste well in this!

Cilantro tends to lose its flavor. I have a mad passionate love affair with cilantro and I tend to drink it straight from the pan when I am cooking it so I put it in anyway, but for a real kick, add it again when you open it.

I use whatever peppers are on sale. In this batch I happened to run into a lot of red and yellow peppers, so you won’t see how vibrant it can look with green. I have given these  away at Christmas and they are gorgeous with all green peppers!

 

Apricots Sweet Apricots

I found an answer today. I love it when I do that.

I am often asked ” I am new to canning, what is the first thing I should can?” and my answer is usually “whatever you like to eat!” which usually leaves people grumbling and feeling that I don’t understand how challenging it can be to a new canner, and honestly, maybe I don’t. I grew up with a grandmother who had pickles in a crock and a Gleaner for a mother (which translates to thousands of pounds of produce canned per year). Canning is in my blood.

Today however, I realized the perfect answer. Apricots. There truly is nothing easier to can then apricots and they are AMAZING! I can them in pints and half pints because a little can go a long way. Apricots get used to mix with yogurt, cottage cheese, in apricot upside down cake, in coffee cake and chopped for sauces. It isn’t something we typically eat a lot of on its own, so the smaller size works well for us.

Apricots are the perfect first food to can because you don’t have to peel them! You don’t precook them and you can water bath them. Simple. Let me show you how!

First, gather your apricots. If you have a local source, then fantastic. These can be spendy little things but look for a good sale and stock up while you can!

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Rinse your fruit, then simply cut in half along the indentation. The stone is loose and pops right out. Put your cut fruit in cool water with absorbic acid (fruit fresh) or lemon juice. Be careful not to let it soak too long, as these are delicate and can get mushy quickly.

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Pack your fruits any way you wish. I like putting mine cut side down and overlapping them. I set aside any bruised or mushy fruits and at the end I dice them. These are great to add to barbecue sauce later!

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Make your syrup. This could be a standard syrup of sugar and water, you could combine half honey and half water, you could use turbinado or sucanat however they would significantly change the flavor of the apricots or you could use apple or white grape juice. Whatever you decide, you want it simmer and hot while your slicing your fruit. I used a light syrup of 2 cups sugar to 5 cups water.

Once your fruit is packed in the jars, simply fill your jars with hot syrup, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Process in a boiling water bath for 25 minutes (pints) or 30 minutes (quarts). I processed 5 pounds of apricots using the above amount of syrup. I ended up with 2 pints and 12 half pints.

Prepare to be delighted!

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You Shall Need:

5 pounds Apricots

2 cups sugar, sucanat or turbinado (or half honey/half sugar)

5 cups water

1 gallon water to 1/4 cup lemon juice or fruit fresh (follow specific directions for your packet)

 

Combine sugars and water, simmer. Rinse and slice your apricots into halves. Dip into lemon water to preserve color. Layer with cut sides down in jars. Fill with hot syrup. Release any trapped air bubbles. Cap and process in BWB for 25 minutes (pints) or 30 minutes (quarts)

Friday Sales….

oops

I went to get some tomatoes for putting up salsa today. That was all I intended. I promise. But there was a sale. And… sales make me realize I should buy more. Sadly, I did not think about the county fair that promises to take up most of tomorrow, and how exhausted I may be at the end of juggling five children at a county fair all day.

Instead I saw the sign “Peaches .50 a pound” followed by “tomatoes .50 a pound” Paste tomatoes at that!!! And… a few other signs.

End result… 60 pounds peaches (30.00) 25 pounds tomatoes (12.50) 5 pounds apricots (6.00) 8 pounds blueberries (12.00) and 30 pounds plums – free!