Just a short while ago I took a picture of the tomatoes my husband and I harvested from our garden. Aah, it was a lovely harvest. Tons and tons of tomatoes (along with a few cucumbers and a zucchini) came inside with us and it was decided that they would be perfect for salsa.
I would have preferred making more spaghetti sauce, but the husband was quite eager to make homemade salsa. It's not my favorite pair to chips as I much prefer guacamole. Luckily, our tomato plants still have plenty of tomatoes ripening away. Spaghetti sauce will be next, along with the first experience with the pressure canner.
I awoke early this morning with the dog (apparently he missed the memo about today being a non-work day) and got ready to head to the Fleet Farm and grocery store to gather a few items for salsa making. Okay, and pickle making. We made refrigerator pickles--no water bathing required--and I cannot wait to taste their dilly goodness tomorrow.
We soon realized that our kitchen is much too small for large-scale canning. I could show you a picture of my kitchen at this point, but every picture I took today was taken without a memory card in the camera. Whoops. Anyway, we also noticed that our regular stock pot was not even close to large enough for boiling the salsa. The husband was a gem and offered his 3 gallon brew kettle for the task (I have plans to purchase a new one, a bigger one for him).
Today marked my first day of canning. I have watched my mother-in-law can cranberry jelly, but never had I completed the task from start to finish by myself.
Canning was rather intimidating. The tomatoes were overflowing on the counter. My normally large looking stock pot looked tiny. My kitchen counters were overcrowded in a matter of minutes. My hands quickly became pruned and the tomato juice rendered them itchy (possibly an allergy?). Husband chopped bell peppers, onions, garlic and jalapenos. The tomatoes held all of my attention. Blanching, peeling, blending half of the tomatoes, chopping the other half.
Canning was incredible. In a matter of hours, I will be checking the seal on each jar of salsa and will be able to store each one for up to a year. There are currently 10 pints of salsa on the counter. I'll consider the tomatoes free, since we bought a packet of seeds for a buck and that was in February (and we used about 30 tomatoes). The peppers, onion and garlic cost us just $7. Now, that is some cheap salsa! I'm not in awe of the savings alone. I'm in awe of the fact that my husband and I grew tomatoes from seeds and we will now be able to enjoy them for the months to come. Maybe I'll make some fresh tortilla chips and have a wonderful homemade snack some day.
This has provided me with motivation to can and preserve more. More pickles, spaghetti sauce (I never want to buy spaghetti sauce again because of this recipe), fruit, salsa, just tomatoes in general. I already am planning next year's garden. What should we grow? What should we preserve? What else can I provide for my family (so far it's just me and the hubs, but it's a family nonetheless)? And even though the kitchen is small, I won't shy away from canning.