Sunday, July 26, 2009

Canning Adventures #1 - Salsa!

This year, when my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told him I wanted a pressure canner. Yes, I know I'm weird, but it sounded like a fun thing to have! I was very excited to get it, and I decided that salsa would be my first project. It's always important to have salsa on hand for a tasty snack, and home made salsa is MUCH more tasty than store bought.

I started by getting all my ingredients ready. I wasn't sure exactly how much stuff I would need, so I ended up with some extra to save for another cooking project.

hot sauce 1

Then I chopped it all up in the food processor. I know most people make salsas with big chunks of tomatoes and stuff. My family has always just thrown it all in the food processor and pretty much pureed it, so that's how I do it.

I actually made more than one batch and then put it all in a big pot together and brought it to a boil. I don't normally cook it, but the instructions for canning salsa said you need to bring it to a boil, so I did. I'm sure that has something to do with the cootie-killing process that makes it safe to eat, so I didn't question it. Here it is on the stove along with the canning pot full of heating water and the hot rings and lids for the jars.

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Once I had the salsa boiling, I got my trusty tongs and got the rings and lids out of the water so I could start jarring it all up!

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Then came the fun part! I grabbed my sterilized and heated jars and started filling them up. This handy funnel came in the canning tools kit my husband got me to go along with the giant pot. It has an extra wide opening so chunks can get through it.

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The tool kit also came with this headspace measuring tool. Different kinds of foods require different amounts of space in the top of the jar to properly process. The cootie-killing process is quite mysterious.

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Once I got the space right, the lids and bands went on. The jars were hot. After burning myself a couple of times, I finally figured out that a towel made it easier to hold the jar.

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All that was left was to get them into the water and boil them! Another handy tool from the tool kit was the jar tongs. They are made so they grab onto the top of the jar so you can get them into and out of the boiling water easily.

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After they boiled for 15 minutes, out they came! They were actually in there for way longer than 15 minutes. They were probably in there for about an hour and a half, but most of the time I was trying to get the water to boil. Processing time doesn't start until the water actually starts boiling, and it took forever! After waiting over an hour for it to boil, I decided to try my husband's suggestion and put the lid on the pan. It started boiling within a minute or two.

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I got them all out and lined them up all pretty on a towel so we could look at them.

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We were sitting on the couch a little while later when we heard the first "pop" of a lid sealing. Why is that exciting? We got really excited every time one of them would pop. It was very silly, but also very cool. Canning the salsa was really easy, and even more fun than I thought it would be. I love domesticated type projects, and this is something I can see myself doing alot of in the future. Be on the lookout for more canning adventures here soon!


Becca said...

I'll trade you two 5 gallon buckets for a jar of hot sauce. ;)