Tuesday, August 26, 2014

From the Garden to the Jar - Fresh Garden Salsa

“What is paradise? But a garden, an orchard of trees and herbs full of pleasure and nothing there but delights.”

—William Lawson, 1687

This was a great year for the garden. Do you have a garden? A garden can be a very personal thing, like art, an expression of yourself. You don't realize how delicate it can be until you have a bad year (like I did last year) and you cannot figure out why nothing's working. Not so this year, thank goodness. The weather here in the Ozarks was perfect all summer. The squash are growing. The flowers are blooming everywhere. Rosemary, Thyme, Italian Parsley and Basil for days. The tomatoes are big and bountiful. I grew Early Girl, Beefsteak, Pineapple, Better Boy, Roma, and sweet big fat cherry tomatoes.
My roma tomatoes

The green peppers are big, fat, and beautiful, and although I'm not a jalapeno pepper fan, I need them for the salsa, and they did well. Everything was in place and ready to go for fresh batches of salsa--garden-to-jar, just the way it should be.
Bell peppers

Jalapeno pepper

A little morning harvest

 It's such a gift to go out to the garden, in the morning, pick peppers, tomatoes, herbs and flowers...stand barefoot in the grass (go ahead and Google "earthing") feel the sun on my face, and later in the day find myself with fresh flowers on the table and jars and jars of garden salsa--organic salsa that was fresh-preserved with ingredients that are not even hours old, freshly picked from the garden. I may not always feel like doing the canning right at the moment when everything is ready--but too bad so sad, because fresh vegetables will not wait! So going out, picking them, getting some fresh air, seeing how beautiful and magical it all is gives the natural energy I need to do this thing!

Garden bliss. Summer heaven. Feeling blessed. It's so good to have contact with the earth.
Spaghetti squash, peppers, zinnias, and parsley
I've altered my fresh garden salsa recipe every summer for what we like at my house and what is freshest. You always have to make sure when water-bath canning that you have enough acidity necessary in your recipe for a good fresh-preserved product--it's good to check the Ball Blue Book. And don't look at an old one. The standards change over the years. 

My garden salsa is all organic, sweet, mild and delicious. It is also a nice chunky salsa, and I can it in little wide-mouth half-pint jars, so that you can open up a jar and just start dipping! Or grab a little jar and bag of tortilla chips for an instant gift. This year, I've managed to can about forty jars--plenty to last for a year of salsa gifting and eating. I did this in smaller batches of course. My water-bath canner holds seven jars at a time, and my recipe will fill 14 half-pint jars. The best sound in the world is that "pop" your jars make when the lids seal after processing. It never gets old!
----------------------------------------------------------- Sandy's Fresh Organic Garden Salsa
8 cups of fresh garden tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups fresh garden green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
4 small, fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
2 cups fresh organic sweet yellow onions, chopped
3/4 to 1 cup white wine vinegar
1 can (6 oz.) organic tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Fresh cilantro, chopped (to taste)

Heat to gentle boil, and simmer and stir on the stove for 30 minutes, until the salsa thickens.

Water-Bath Canning
Sterilize about 14 half-pint wide-mouthed jars. Wash and rinse the rings. Heat the lids in hot water. Ladle salsa into the clean, hot jars, wipe the rims, and apply the lids and rings. Place in the boiling water in the water-bath canner with water covering the jars. Most canners will hold seven jars at a time. Put the lid on, keep it boiling and process for 20 minutes. Take the lid off and let it continue to process for another five minutes. Lift jars out, and they will seal with a "pop" as they cool. Before storing, make sure they are all sealed. If the lids move up and down when pressed, they are not sealed properly.


I hope you enjoyed this journey from the garden to the jar!

Eat, Write, Dream, Stitch, Garden

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