Harvest and Canning

This is a deviation from my usual blog, but I wanted to share one of my passions, which is cooking. I usually post recipes and photos on Facebook, but I’ve decided to post a blog today. I’m working on being the Proverbs 31 woman!

Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. Genesis 1:28

While my husband was unemployed, we planted a garden which has been a great help to us as we get back on our feet financially. The garden has struggled in the last month in the exorbitant heat, but we have still been getting a bounty! Yes, we do share with those in need and family.

Yesterday, I canned a few quarts of salsa and wanted to share the process. Here is a picture of 2 quarts: This recipe should yield 4 quarts or 8 pints.

Kimberly’s Garden Fresh Salsa:

Ingredients:

16 Cups peeled, drained & chopped fresh tomatoes (I used more than one variety.)

2 medium bell peppers, red or green, diced*

6 fresh medium-sized jalapeños, minced*

4 medium sweet onion – (Vidalia or Walla Walla), diced*

6 cloves garlic, pressed* or minced*

1/2 Cup fresh cilantro OR 4 Tablespoons dried

2 Tablespoons Lemon Pepper, preferably without salt

1 Tablespoon Kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground Cumin

1 Cup freshly squeezed lime juice, (Key lime is best) OR 1/2 Cup lime juice Plus 2/3 Cup Cider Vinegar

4 dried red chili peppers, seeded and cut up finely (1/8 inch) with Kitchen shears

Instructions:

1. Cut an ‘x’ in the bottom of tomatoes and submerge in almost boiling water for 30 – 60 Seconds. Dip out with a slotted spoon and place them on a towel or cutting board to dry. (Don’t leave them in the hot water too long or they will be mushy to work with and absorb water.)

      

2. Peel and core tomatoes. (If using grape tomatoes, peel back & cut the end off to core, as demonstrated in the first photo below. Once they are cored, chop peeled tomatoes into 1/2 inch chunks, removing any leftover core. I don’t totally seed my tomatoes because I don’t want to lose the gel, but I do remove any bad spots and some of the gel & seeds. There is quite a bit of flavor in the gel!

      

3. Place tomatoes in a colander over a larger bowl to drain while you chop up your other ingredients. Allow at least an hour for the juices to drain & then save the juice for another recipe. As you can see from the bottom photo below, I had about 2 – 4 Cups of juice; so start with approximately 18 to 20 Cups of tomatoes to yield 16 Cups.

   

4. Now you are ready to chop up the bell peppers, jalapeños, onions, garlic, cilantro, and dried chili peppers (cilantro & chili peppers not pictured).

      

5. Juice limes to yield 1 Cup of lime juice (without pulp) or 1/2 Cup of lime juice if you are using vinegar as well. (I strain mine with a sieve to remove any small seeds or pulp.) I used my juicer that attaches to a measuring cup, but I’ve put a handheld juicer/reamer on my ‘wish list’ for new kitchen gadgets! (Key limes are small & hard to juice, but the flavor is not easily matched!)

6. Measure lemon pepper, Kosher salt, and ground Cumin, set aside. (This photo also has dried cilantro in the ramekin because I was out of fresh due to the heat.)

7. Now dump all the ingredients into a large saucepan and stir to combine. I use a 10 quart saucepan. Once it is simmering, simmer for at least 15 minutes or until desired thickness.

8. Once the salsa has finished simmering, place hot salsa into sterilized* canning jars, with a ladle and a funnel – All sterilized*. Remove any air pockets with a  sterilized canning bubble remover. Leave a half-inch space at top of jar.

9. Wipe off any residue from rim of jar with a clean towel moistened with hot water. Place a new lid, which has been sterilized*, on each jar and place rims over lids. Hand tighten rims.

10. Place jars into a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. You may check canning guides online for different altitudes.

11. Remove from water bath with canning tongs and allow to cool on a towel or a rack with a towel underneath.

Be sure to check and make sure lids are sealed once they have cooled. If the lids pop when pressed in the center, they are not sealed. If any are not sealed, you may refrigerate and still use. Do not use less lime juice or vinegar, the acid is essential for preservation! Enjoy!

(When my husband is my sous chef, he asks me the difference b/w minced, diced, and chopped finely, coarsely, etc. I have provided a key to the terms below.)

*Key to terms: Minced is about as small as you can get when chopping, about an 1/8 of an inch in size. Diced is a bit larger – about 1/4 inch in size. Chopped finely is comparable to diced. Chopped alone would be approximately 1/2 inch in size, unless otherwise noted. Pressed is put into a garlic press & squeezed out, minced is almost the same & will do for garlic. Sterilization is key in canning. You should boil all of your equipment; lids, rims, tongs, lid magnet, in a saucepan to sterilize before using. Boil 10 minutes at altitudes of less than 1,000 ft. At higher elevations, boil 1 additional minute for each additional 1,000 ft. elevation. For the jars, you can sterilize in a dishwasher with very hot water and dry with the heat, not air dry. Leave in dishwasher until ready to use. I usually run my jars through a complete cycle before I start preparing my recipe. (Some dishwashers have a sterilization cycle, which you can use.)

Praise God for his provision!

“You take care of the earth and water it,
    making it rich and fertile.
The river of God has plenty of water;
    it provides a bountiful harvest of grain,
    for you have ordered it so.
You drench the plowed ground with rain,
    melting the clods and leveling the ridges.
You soften the earth with showers
    and bless its abundant crops.
You crown the year with a bountiful harvest;
    even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.” Psalm 65:9-11

Sharing Love

This morning I was thinking about our local outreach ministry. This is a ministry that distributes food to people once a month through government and state agencies. Food is also donated through one of the local grocery stores several times a week for dispersion. They have a thrift store which sells clothing, furniture, appliances, toys, and other items. Another service they offer is to help people with their utility bills when they can’t afford them due to hardship through an application procedure. When there is a tragedy such as a fire or personal family traumas, they furnish essential belongings such as food, clothing and furniture. The first time I toured it, I had tears in my eyes hearing about all of the wonderful things they are doing. It really touches my heart! I’ve only been able to help distribute the food one time and volunteer a few times in other ways. The people who come to collect their food once a month really grab my heart. I cannot imagine what some of them have gone through. I’m crying as I write this because  I’m sure it is difficult for them to show up and have to take handouts each month. There may be a few who are ‘using the system’ but they need Jesus too! Those who work there may be the one person that is able to connect with them and show them love. I don’t know how they ended up where they are in their life today and it isn’t any of our business. We should just share God’s love. If Jesus met them he would love them. What a transforming power love is!

“If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:3-7

I was reminiscing of when I used a pressure washing brush to scrub the sidewalk around the ministry. As I washed, I prayed for the people who come in there that they might be touched. I prayed that every person who walked across the sidewalk might be touched by the power of God and that none of them would leave without a seed planted in their hearts. I also prayed for the people who work there that their hearts might have the right attitude to share Jesus’ love and to see others with God’s eyes not human eyes.

As I was washing, I saw how the soap and water washed away the dirt. In the areas that were exposed to light the dirt wasn’t as thick. Isn’t this how our own lives are? People who are exposed to the light (Jesus and the Word) are freer from sin but those who live in darkness have more sin in their lives. It was in the dark recesses that the dirt was harder to clean. Think about places where sin is more rampant, they are places which are busier at night and are dimly lit. I also noticed how some blemishes on the sidewalk came up right away while others could not be removed. I thought about how many of the people who come through those doors will have scars. Some of the scars will be visible and some will not. It’s easy to remember or have empathy for the ones who have visible scars but we have to remember those with invisible scars need love and empathy as well; scars from emotional turmoil or illnesses that aren’t evident. I prayed for all of these people and I cried and sang praise songs as I cleaned. I thought if Jesus were here he would reach out and touch these people. Jesus isn’t here, but I am and I hope that everywhere I go, I allow the Christ in me to be sensitive to reach out and touch others.

“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

I truly hope that I reflect the image of Christ and his love.

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13