Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Yup, It's Spring and we are all gearing up for the season!

It's spring here in Oregon. And I am loving it! Seeds coming up, gardening fever, things blooming..... And those of us who grow our own food, can and preserve foods are anxious for the season to start. I know I can't wait.  And every day that I see new seedlings poking up I get more excited.

Not all of you know that I'm part of a pretty tight knit group of friends, we love to harvest, put up that harvest and try all these wonderful new foods. Yeah, I am a canning addict and last year was just the beginning! This year I hope to put away almost twice as much as I did last year and I have a couple favorites to share here.

Salsas, what can I say, everyone loves a great salsa. They are a great ice breaker at a party, or potluck, an easy appetizer dish to bring, but did you know that they are good with so many other foods, not just for dipping with chips, but they're great on meats, fish, and even toppings for nachos?

Most people when they hear salsa, they think of a traditional tomato based salsa that is pretty much pureed, like they get out of a jar of Pace or at a restaurant. But they're so much more than that.

Enter the good fresh made chunky salsas....

And yes, you can can them to enjoy all year around! Or you can make them fresh, or even fermented. YUM!

Though I usually make my green chili salsa to take to potlucks as it is very popular and never lasts long. And the longer it sits the warmer or hotter it can get. So be careful of the heat level of your peppers.

Roasted Green chilies are the best and while they're roasting, the aroma is incredible. These were anaheims and poblanos and a few serranos I got this last summer, ready to go on the grill to roast. You can also roast them on a dry skillet on the stove or under your broiler. You want to char the skins, blister them, then let them rest for a bit under a damp kitchen towel for a bit. It makes peeling off the skin easier. And please be sure to use gloves when handling hot peppers! The capsicum can irritate your skin if you have sensitive skin.

When making salsas, the freshest you can get the ingredients, the better your salsa.

Then when you think you've had enough of prepping all your ingredients, And you swear you will never chop another tomato, you will rethink your current thoughts. Because you will be so thrilled with the outcome and you may have found that you have a new food love. So much better than anything you can get at the store. I promise!

Ok, so with all that said, I'll share my green chili salsa and fresh peach salsa with you....

Green Chili Salsa

About 20 lbs ripe tomatoes, Chopped fairly fine
3 large onions, chopped fine
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup each chopped parsley and cilantro (if you don't have fresh, a Tbl of each dry is fine)
2 Tbl sea salt
1 Tbl black pepper
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice
1 Tbl oregano
10-15 roasted green chilies, anaheims or poblanos are fine, stemmed, and chopped. If you want milder, remove the seeds
5 Serrano peppers, minced. (These don't have to be roasted)
1/4 cup plain red chili powder
1 Tbl ground cumin

Mix all ingredients together. Taste and adjust salt if needed. Have your water bath canner going and ready. Sterilize your jars in boiling water for 10 minutes, and your lids.
Fill your jars with the fresh salsa leaving 1 inch headspace. Wipe rims and seal with hot lids. Process jars in the boiling water bath for 15 minutes for pints, 20 minutes for quarts.
Allow jars to cool on towels on the counter. Check your seals when cool and reprocess any that did not seal or put them in the fridge and enjoy. Try to let them rest for at least a week for all the amazing flavors to meld together. 

Now onto the Peach Salsa! I promise it is amazing, and will quickly become a favorite.

Of course sun ripened fresh picked peaches are a must!
Ready??? Ok, here goes...

Sunny Peach Salsa

6 cups of firm but ripe peaches, diced
1 cup of sugar (I only did a half cup)
1 cup chopped roasted green chilies
2 minced serranos or jalapeno peppers (fresh)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/8 cup red chili powder
1  Tbl dried oregano
1 tsp cumin

Mix all together and let sit for a few while you sterilize and prepare your jars and lids.
Fill your hot sterile jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace, wipe rims and seal with hot lids.
Process pints 10 minutes and quarts 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. When time is up, turn off the heat and let the jars sit in the bath an additional 5 minutes. Remove jars and allow them to cool 24 hours on a towel on the counter. Test and check to ensure the jars sealed. Reprocess any that did not or put into the refrigerator.

Let them sit at least a week to let the flavors develop.  I did double the recipe and got around 6 pints of salsa.

Both of these salsas can store at least a year in a cool dark storage place. Refrigerate any jar after opening.

Enjoy them! If you make them this summer, let me know how you liked them. I am looking forward to also making mango salsa and a strawberry salsa. Well there might be a rhubarb salsa in there too!

What is your favorite way to enjoy salsa? I'd love to hear!

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