It has been a very busy couple of weeks. The vegetables have been coming in dribs and drabs, which means I have to create smaller batches for canning and freezing, but more frequently. No sooner do I get one thing frozen or canned, when a few days later something else needs to be done. It is sometimes harder to do so many small batches, but it is the way I have had to do most of my canning this year.
I have been looking at the tomatoes, hoping they would turn red in bulk, but instead I am only getting perhaps 8 or so every few days. This means that I can't can my salsa in bulk. This year I have taken to making fresh salsa, but the recipes I have tried to create have not been the tastiest, so until I get a really nice batch of fresh salsa, I won't post my attempts. Suffice to say that I tried combining things like red tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, chili peppers and basil. Not the best salsa, but it is now gone.
As I looked at all the green tomatoes, I decided to try a Mexican tomatillo salsa, substituting green tomatoes for the tomatillos. This morning I was able to pick about 3 pounds of green tomatoes, and I noticed that many of the tomatoes I didn't pick have gotten just a tad beyond the green stage, so I will continue to cross my fingers that there will be enough ripe ones to make at least one batch of red tomato salsa next week.
A note about green tomatoes. If you want to try your own green tomato salsa, be sure the green tomatoes you pick are a pale green. If they are dark green, they have a substance in them that may give you some very bad stomach aches and diarrhea. The substance disappears as the tomatoes ripen.
I have also been collecting pickling cucumbers all week. The bees have been busy pollinating, but the cukes have not come as abundantly as I would like. However, I finally had enough to make a few quarts of pickles today, along with the salsa.
The day began at 7 a.m. First thing I did was take out the Bisquick and a jumbo muffin tin. From that, I made 6 fresh blueberry muffins. So we had muffins with coffee for breakfast.
Then I got out my collection of cucumbers and began scrubbing. They were still nicely crisp, even though a few of the cukes were just about 5 days old. They had been in the refrigerator from the time I had picked them. I do not scrub the cucumbers until they are ready to be used.
This particular recipe is very good for a change of pace. It is a cross between a dill pickle and a bread and butter pickle, so it has a unique combination of sweet and sour. They will taste better if your seasonings are relatively new. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn't keep your jarred herbs and spices for more than 6 months in your cabinet. The flavor loses much of its pungency the older the herb or spice is.
Sweet Garlic Dills
4 pounds small pickling cucumbers (About 12 - 16)
I discovered that I was able to fill 5 quart jars with only 5 pounds of cucumbers. The
measurements of this recipe is for 2 quarts, but the cucumbers are difficult to gauge
as to how many you actually need.
4 large cloves garlic, split
4 heads fresh dill or 4 teaspoons dill seeds (I used dill seeds this time)
1/2 tsp. celery seed
2 cups white vinegar
2/3 cup water
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons pickling salt
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1. Wash cucumbers thoroughly, then cut a thin slice from the ends of each cucumber. Cut cucumbers
lengthwise into quarters. I mostly cut them in half, but if the cucumbers were very large, I did
cut them into quarters.
2. Remove hot quart jars from canner. Place 2 cloves of garlic, 2 head of fresh dill or 2 tsps. dill
seeds and 1/4 tsp celery seeds into each jar. Pack in your cucumbers. You may have to use
different lengths of cucumbers to fill the jar. Tuck as many cucumbers as you can in each jar.
3. Meanwhile, combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt and turmeric in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Pour boiling vinegar mixture over cucumbers to within 1/2 inch of rim (head space.) Process for
15 minutes for quarts.
How to process. Clean jars, then place in large canner or stockpot. Fill pot with water about 1 inch above the jar rim. Heat and let boil while you prepare your recipe. 5 minutes before you are going to fill jars, place your lids and caps in the boiling water. Take out each jar, dumping a small portion of the water back into the pot, but the bulk of the water you want to dump into the sink. I use tongs to remove my jars. Then when you have all your jars filled, place back into canner, and bring water back to boil. When it is boiling rapidly, put cover on pot and begin timing. 15 minutes later you will remove the jars and place on a rack to cool.
Now that we have the pickles under our belt, it is time to start the green tomato salsa. This salsa I have made in the past and it is very tasty. The first time I made it I combined green tomatoes and tomatillos, because I didn't have enough tomatillos. That was okay, but I wasn't thrilled with the combination of tomatoes and tomatillos.
The next time I made it I just used tomatillos, and instead of green chili peppers I used a wonderful chili pepper called bulgarian carrot. This is a type of thai pepper. The salsa was awesome. It has
very little spice when you first eat it, but when you swallow, then you get a burn. This time the salsa has been made only with green tomatoes. Try it if you have lots of green tomatoes. It will be a little different then using tomatillos, but the flavor is still quite good.
Green Tomato Mexican Salsa
Makes 2 cups. Increase accordingly when making larger batch
1/2 pound green tomatoes (pale green)
2 hot green chili peppers, seeded and chopped. (I used a combination of bulgarian carrot chilis,
red chili peppers, and green chilis)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/4 cup each apple juice and cider vinegar
3/4 tsp pickling salt
1/2 tsp each cumin and dried oregano.
1 tblsp sugar
1. Wash tomatoes and coarsely chop in a food processor or by hand. Transfer to a medium stainless
steel or enamel saucepan. Add chile's, garlic, red pepper, onion, carrot, apple juice, vinegar, salt
cumin and oregano. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat, cover and boil gently for
2. Stir in sugar; return to boil and boil gently, uncovered, for 20 minutes or untill mixture is
thickened. Remove from heat.
3.) Remove hot jars from canner and ladle salsa into jars to withing 1/4 inch of rim. Process 20
minutes for half pint and pint jars.