The container maters, being a touch on the small side, kept us in a steady stream of fresh salsa and tomato salads, however they didn't leave much for preserving. I did get a batch of incredibly tasty tomato jam out of the little guys, recipe courtesy of one of my favorite blogs, Food in Jars. As for the rest of my tomato needs, I had to look to the farmers market.
Adriana at Tomatero set me up with 60 plus pounds of San Marzanos. It took me over three days to slog through the boxes and get them all canned up, but it was well worth it. I preserved a good number of jars of sauce, salsa, and catsup. Yes, I'm totally crazy for bothering to make my own ketchup, but it's so much better than the stuff at the store. Really. Truly. I'm totally not lying. I used this recipe, just in case you want to be a nutter like me.
With my vintage Wedgewood and its eternal heat from the pilot light, I dried four trays of tomatoes. They never even made it to the fridge. I soaked them in some Bariani olive oil (Best. Olive oil. Ever.) and gobbled them up in less than a day. I call it tomato candy.
Salsa has been a struggle. I can't eat things that are too spicy due to a delicate stomach and it seems that everyone who bothers to can salsa goes for the butt burning kind. So for a few years now, I've been looking for a yummy mild salsa suitable for canning. This one seemed like it might do the trick, but I was worried about the 2.5 cups of hot peppers. A commenter noted that they had reduced the hot peppers by half, which made the salsa "too" mild. I wanted a bit of kick, but didn't have enough peppers for the full 2.5 cups so I thought I would add one of the habeneros that my brother grew in his garden. I cut into the tiny, seemingly harmless yellow pod and didn't notice any of the eye burning that can accompany such an act. Since peppers of the same variety can often vary in BTU heat units, I thought I should do taste test in order to determine how many I would need. Oh shit, was that thing hot! After I sputtered and choked my way to the sink to spit the damn thing out, I washed my hands at least five times and removed the pepper from the rest of them. Too late. The juice had already leaked onto its neighbors. The end product tastes like a spicy Pace salsa. It's alright, but not exactly what I was going for.
And it gets worse. I found out that no matter how many times you wash your hands, capsicum oil does not come off. Almost never cooking with hot peppers, i did not know that. Men who are sensitive about discussing women's things should stop reading now. Shortly after compulsive hand washing, I needed to use the restroom to take care of some "ladies things". I'm not sure whether or not the oil got on the toilet paper or what... well, you get the picture. I tore through the house screaming "it burns", laughing and crying at my stupidity. I had been very careful not to touch my eyes, yet didn't think about "down there". I cured my nether regions with some vinegar and witch hazel, though no matter what I did I couldn't get my hands to stop burning. Desperate for relief and not wanting to use up any of my precious dairy products to fix the issue, I soaked my hands in bleach as I had read that would work. It did. My hands reeked of bleach for two days. Now I know why folks recommend using gloves. Next time, eh?
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