Saturday, July 31, 2010

Garden in a Jar and Spanish Rice Rollups

I heart garden tomatoes. We wait for them all year, and now that they are in abundance, we eat fresh every day. I have to admit, though, when we are harvesting dozens every day, I feel the pressure to capture this goodness so that we can enjoy it all year long. I don't want these jewels to go to waste!
To make things a little easier, I can my tomatoes in small batches, just six pint jars at a time, usually. I prefer the pint, wide-mouth jars for canning tomatoes, because they are recipe ready, and if I need to chop them up for a recipe, like the Spanish Rice Rollups recipe below, the wide-mouth jar makes it easier just to stick my knife in there and run it around for a quick chop.

I simply peel and core enough tomatoes for the six jars. It's usually about 5 to 6 medium tomatoes per jar. One tablespoon of lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt also go into each jar. The jars are processed in a waterbath canner according to current recommendations from the Ball Blue Book, and as of now, that is 85 minutes with the lid on, and then letting them sit in the waterbath for 5 additional minutes with the lid off before lifting out and waiting for that beautiful "pop!" of the lid. Check each lid and make sure it is sealed tight before storing.
Your own canned tomatoes are an amazing ingredient; every time you open a jar you can smell the garden, and the taste is incredible. I use them in the middle of winter in chili, casseroles, and this Spanish Rice Rollup:
Brown 1-lb. ground beef or turkey with 1/2-cup chopped onion and drain.
Continue cooking and add in 1 pint jar tomatoes, chopped, 1 can beans drained, 1 package of taco seasoning, 1 1/2 cups water and 2 cups instant brown rice. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 5 minutes. Enjoy rolled up in tortillas with your favorite toppings.

Just a little extra work makes for some good eating all year long.

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