Ecoholic Adria Vasil kicks off a canning revolution with this step by step DIY.
Home Made Salsa (for preserving)
NOTE: all the ingredients listed below are optional and you can leave out or add in anything you like.
* About 1 1/2 pounds of tomatoes, diced (can be whatever kind you like but using a roma or plum tomato makes things a little less juicy, if you like it thick)
* 2 to 3 sweet red, green or orange peppers, diced (green will give you more colour variation; orange unfortunately just kind of blends in with the rest)
* 2 to 3 chilies, finely chopped (jalapeno, red, hot banana, whatever suits you - or you can just chili flakes, chipotle chilies from a can or even powdered chipotle pepper; McCormick's is now making a really amazing ground chipotle powder). If you like chilies a bit more mellow, try roasting them on a dry skillet for about 10 minutes, rotating frequently, or on a barbecue. To get chili flavour without all the crazy heat, remove the seeds. If you LOVE the fire, keep them.
* 1 large onion, chopped
* several cloves of garlic, minced (you can also roast garlic on a dry skillet, skins on, for about 10 minutes, then peel and crush
* a big handful of cilantro, chopped
* about 1/2 to 2/3 cup of vinegar (you can also switch out for apple cider vinegar or lime juice, if you prefer a different flavour)
* about 1 tsp of salt (to taste)
Makes about 7 to 8 cups of salsa.
Tools needed for canning:
* Two large stock pots (also known as canners)
* a rack for placing in the bottom of the pot you'll use for sterilizing jars - this protects them from the direct heat and the potential to crack. You can use a baking rack that fits in the pot, or stores like Canadian Tire and Home Hardware sell canning equipment and racks.
* Jars with snap lids and rings. I prefer 250 ml jars by Bernardin - especially their wide-mouth versions. Note that you can always buy snap lids and rings separately. Experts say you really shouldn't re-use the snap lids in case they get damaged when opened, but I often do, I just check them really well for dents to see if the rubber seal has been compromised in any way. If there's any kind of damage (from say a knife being wedged under it), ditch it and use a new one. Jars usually come in a box of a dozen, and are about $6 to $8 each - buy more than you think you need, just in case, and note that usually there are coupons in the boxes to save more on future boxes of jars!
* A jar lifter. This is a special type of "tong" that helps you grip hot jars and lift them out of the canner. I would say if there's any tool you can't do without, this might just be it. You can buy it as part of a tool kit made by Bernardin for about $10 or less.
* A funnel. This is a special funnel designed for filling jars - not exactly necessary but it makes the job a gazillion times easier. Often means you never have to wipe down the edges of your jar (more later). Also part of the above tool kit.
* A magnetic tool for pulling hot snap lids out of the water - another amazing tool. Also part of the above tool kit.
* A medium-sized saucepan for heating snap lids.
1. Prepare your ingredients. Wash everything, chop it up and throw it in one of the stock pots for cooking.
2. While you're prepping, put your other stock pot on the stove with the rack in the bottom and put in about as many of the jars (minus the lids) as you think you need, plus a few more. Heat this to a strong boil (may take some time depending on how much water there is) and boil for a minimum of 10 minutes to sterilize your jars.
3. At the same time, put your snap lids into the medium-sized saucepan and heat on medium-low for a minimum 10 minutes. These can be boiled for a short period but the main point here is to keep them nice and hot, just below a boil, until the last second you need them.
4. Start cooking the salsa. You aren't cooking it so much for the sake of cooking it as you are for the sake of killing off bacteria. Bring everything to a boil and then simmer for about 5 minutes. You want to time things so that your cooked salsa is ready at about the same time your jars are ready.
5. While things are cooking, set up the packing station. Get the jar rings ready and handy, have a spot for your hot salsa pot to sit and a spot for your saucepan of snap lids to sit. Put down a tea towel for setting down hot, sterile jars. Get your clean funnel and your magnet stick thingy ready. Have a ladle handy for scooping salsa into hot jars
6. Packing: One at a time (this part's easier if you have two people, but not necessary) pull your hot jars out of the hot water and bring them to your packing station. Put the funnel in the jar and then ladle in your hot salsa. Don't over fill the jars! You need about 1/4 inch of space at the top. If you spill salsa on the top edges of the jar, you need to wipe this off with a clean cloth to ensure a good seal. The funnel really helps prevent this though.
7. Once jars are filled use your magnet to grab a snap lid and put it on the jar without touching the underside. Then carefully place a ring over the whole thing without burning your fingers! Don't over tighten - the jars should only just be finger-tight (this allows air to escape while processing - coming up next).
8. When all your jars are filled and lids are on, return them to the hot water using the jar lifter. You can process in batches if you have a lot of jars. The water in the canner should cover the jars by about an inch. You may need to add water or scoop some off. As soon as your jars hit the hot water you should notice a few bubbles begin escaping from the jars. This is good - its forcing more air out and creating a better seal.
9. Processing: boil your filled jars for about 15 minutes for 250 ml jars (you need to boil for longer for larger jars). Using the jar lifter, remove your processed jars from the water and place them on a tea towel to cool. They will be VERY hot! Often, as soon as you remove them from the water you'll hear the lids pop into a concave position which indicates the seal, but sometimes this happens as they're cooling.
10. Any lids that don't pop down snugly should be refrigerated and the contents eaten soon. You can also put these ones in the freezer to preserve them longer. Well-sealed jars can be labeled and stored in a dark, dry, cool place.
11. EAT your preserved food all through the long dark winter!