Friday, October 12, 2012

My Fall 2012 Canning Recipe Round-Up

It's that time of year when my kitchen always gets a little overrun with jars, lids, and rings. The canner is always on my stovetop  whether it is in use or not. There are apple peels, tomato tops, peach skins, cucumber ends, and other scraps in bowls headed to the compost heap or to the chickens. The countertops are covered in sticky patches of juice and sugar syrup. My kitchen gets hot, I sometimes burn my fingers, and the pile of pots and bowls in my sink stacks up. Most nights I feel too tired to cook because I feel like I've been in the kitchen all day (pizza, anyone?). Even so, when I see the jars lined up in my cupboard, all the mess and work reaffirms my love for fall canning (though it would be nice to have prettier labels on them. For now, masking tape and a Sharpie will have to do).  Plus, I love canning with my mom -- we get to spend a lot of time chatting and being productive all at once.

Anyway, I thought I'd do a recipe round-up on here, a list of links to the recipes I used this canning season.

1. Jam
The first thing I made this fall was jam. Homemade jam turned me into a jam snob.

This year, I made raspberry, blackberry, and peach jam. My raspberries didn't produce as much this year, so I only got a couple pints of it (so, so sad -- raspberry is my favorite!). We got lots of blackberries, though. For my blackberry and raspberry jams, I simply used the recipe from the pectin label. Nothing but fruit, sugar, and pectin.  For the peach jam, I used the recipe from Food in Jars -- I love it because it has this very warm, fall-like taste to it with the cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon zest. Yum.

2. Salsa
Again, nothing on the shelf at the store even comes close to being as delicious as homemade salsa.  We made two kinds this year.

The first is roasted tomato salsa. This recipe is THE best canned salsa recipe I've tried, period. It's from the blog Doris and Jilly Cook. I would make gallons of it if I had enough tomatoes. I love it because it has no vinegar in it. Now anyone who has read this blog for a while knows of my deep love for vinegar, but whenever I've made other salsa recipes, there's usually vinegar in it and it overpowers all the other flavors. This recipe uses lime juice instead. Another thing I love about this salsa is that tastes fresh, even months after it has been canned and sealed. I reminds me of the salsa you'd get at good Mexican restaurant.

And the recipe couldn't be simpler -- just tomatoes, a few dried peppers (boiled until they're pliable), a big onion, cilantro, garlic,  salt, and lime juice. Broil the tomatoes for a few minutes. Put the tomatoes and all the other ingredients into a food processor. Puree. Bring to a boil and let it simmer for ten minutes. Pour into hot jars. Remove air bubbles. Adjust lids and bands. Process. Easy.  Mom and I have made three double-batches this year and we'll probably do at least one more (*crossing my fingers that all those green tomatoes I have turn red*). What more can I say? This recipe rocks.

The other salsa we made this year was tomatillo salsa. The recipe we used is from Food in Jars. This salsa verde is delicious -- it was tangy and sweet and just a little spicy. I just picked all of my tomatillos and my mom has buckets full of them, so we're going to be making a bunch of this salsa over the next week or so. So good. Plus, it's great for a Halloween appetizer -- I often serve salsa verde and guacamole with dark blue corn tortilla chips at our annual Halloween party (Martha gets the credit for that idea).

3. Pickles
Some aspects of my garden this year were disappointing (what happened, green beans?) and frustrating (curse you, blossom-end rot), but there was one aspect that was awesome this year: my cucumbers produced so well! At one point, I had around 15 cucumbers in my fridge -- and they just kept coming. We ate a lot of them in salads and on sandwiches, but we also pickled a lot of them.

We did two different types of pickles. First, we made sweet pickle chips -- Mom and I made them for the first time last summer, sort of as an experiment, and we ended up loving them. They were great on their own, but also worked well in potato salad and macaroni salad (I used them in Pioneer Woman's recipe for macaroni salad. Now I'm craving it.)

Last year, we canned dill pickles and they were tasty, but they definitely weren't the crisp kind of dill pickles I love. Then I came across this recipe for refrigerator pickles (so, technically, they weren't canned, but I'm including them because it's a sort of preservation). They were so, so easy to make. It took probably 20 minutes at the very most (maybe less -- I wasn't really timing myself) to make them. As indicated in the recipe, I let them sit in the fridge for two days. Then we tried them. To quote my husband, "This is the best pickle I've ever had."  Delicious! What makes them even better? When you run out of the pickles, you just slice up more cucumbers, add them to the brine, let them sit a couple days, and -- voilà! --  more pickles!  The name of the recipe says it all: "The Very Easy and Neverending Jar of Pickles".

4. Peppers
Just check out the post before this one to read all about the sweet pickled peppers. No need to be redundant, right?

5. Applesauce

In my effort to eat less refined sugar, I've been cooking some foods with applesauce as the sweetener (like these waffles. Yum.). Since I try to only buy organic apples (they're #1 on the dirty dozen list this year, after all), I've been getting organic applesauce at the store. It's pricey, though. Imagine how excited I got when my in-laws said we could pick all the apples we wanted from their unsprayed apple trees! Organic apples for free! Some of them were blemished and had some nibbles from worms on them, but we picked them anyway.  Then, my mom and dad went on a trip to Zion National Park and found a u-pick organic apple orchard and picked 40-lbs of apples (for both applesauce and all the juicing my parents do) at a remarkably low price (we're talking like under a dollar a pound -- a steal compared to the organic apples at the grocery store). No more pricey, store-bought organic applesauce for us!

Applesauce is so, so easy to make: you cook the apples until they're soft and then puree. I like to use the food mill pictured above because it eliminates the need for peeling or coring the apples. But you don't need a food mill to make applesauce -- I've used a food processor, too. For the step-by-step of how I make applesauce, check out this link.

It's been a busy season and there's still more I want and wish I could do. Sometimes I overestimate my time, my kids' patience, and my endurance. That said, I love canning not just for the self-satisfaction of seeing those jars in my cupboard, but because it's an exercise in gratitude. It's an extension to the awe I feel about growing food and seeing how others grow it. Everything about canning is lovely. Well, except cleaning up.

What have you been canning this fall? 

Note: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

{This post is linked up to Little House FridayYour Green Resource, Simple Lives Thursdayand Farm Girl Blog Fest.} 


Crystal said...

wow! awesome work. With moving I didn't get a garden at all this year and I'm afraid next year I will definatley over due it. I'll save this link for some ideas- (hmmm pickles). We always make tons of jam in the fall but somehow it never lasts all year. We've started going to the you-pick raspberry farm in Spanish Fork and picking pounds and pounds for so cheap and so much fun with the kids.

Heather Dixon said...

All of this looks amazing. Especially the salsa. Delish!

Lisa/Fresh Eggs Daily Farm Girl said...

New fan here. I found you through Little House in the Suburbs. This was my first year canning so I will bookmark this post for more recipe ideas. Perfect timing! I also raise chickens and knit (I saw your ravelry link) and would LOVE for you to come share at my Farm Girl Blog Fest:

Heather said...

Thanks for the nice words everyone!

@Lisa -- I'd love to come share at your blog. I've actually been following Fresh Eggs Daily on facebook for a while now!

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