Canning lessons

My friend Meredith (view her blog at Bees and Apples) knows how to can and preserve veggies, and this weekend she taught me! Previously, I thought canning was pretty intimidating (all that sterilization, yikes!) but now I’m feeling pretty confident and ready to do more of it at home.

First, we heated up Ball jars by running them through a hot dishwasher:

Hot jars picture

Jars come out of the dishwasher piping hot and ready to receive produce.

Meanwhile, I chopped up my homegrown tomatoes, along with a few peppers and some cilantro from the Durham farmers market. I added in some of our own jalapeños, onions from my mother-in-law, garlic from a friend, and a dash of vinegar and salt. (This is a half-recipe of Zesty Salsa from the Ball Blue Book). The key to thick, saucy salsa was freezing the tomatoes beforehand so much of the liquid was squeezed out.

Salsa cooking

Tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, bell peppers, cilantro, vinegar and salt get happy for 10 minutes.

Basket full o bounty

Tomatoes and peppers from a friend’s garden and the farmer’s market.

We filled the hot jars with the cooked salsa, wiped the jar rims (to help the lid seal properly), topped them with lids and rings, and placed the jars down in a boiling water bath for the amount of time the recipe called for (in this case, 20 minutes). Easy!

Hot water bath

Jars stewing in the hot water bath. Set an alarm, and go watch a TV episode!

Meanwhile, we chopped up a bunch of jalapeños and some cucumbers for pickling.
Jalapenos chopped

Time for brine (vinegar + canning salt) simmered and poured over the veggies for pickling, then a shorter version of the salsa process (wipe down the rims, put on lids and boil for a little while).

From our vantage point in the TV room, we enjoyed the lovely sound of lids “popping” as they sealed. Now, I can look forward to:

  • 2 jars of pickled jalapeños
  • 4 jars of salsa
  • 6 jars of garlic dill pickle spears

Yum!!

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