Tomatoes! They have inundated our life. Ah, such a blessing to be able to pick fresh tomatoes, and to enjoy sliced tomatoes or bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches.
But, had we known when we were planting, that each tomato plant that Fred lovingly placed in the ground, would survive? Well, maybe we wouldn’t have been so gung ho to plant so many.
Fred goes to the garden every other day to pick. He leaves the house like a trooper going out to war: uniform (old clothes, insect spray, and dirty old grody tennis shoes). But, when he returns with the five gallon bucket full of tomatoes, he looks like someone has sprayed him with the garden hose, and rolled him in the mud.
I can tomatoes because they are delicious additions to stews in the winter, but Fred makes salsa. Yesterday, after a full morning of activity, I decided to finally sit down and read. But, Fred had just come in from the garden with the big bucket of tomatoes. (I should have known, and hid in one of our closets).
Fred said, “I think I’m going to make salsa.” Uh oh. Am I a part of this? He continued, “where is the food processor? Me: “It’s easier for me to get it than to tell you.” He followed me and helped carry the parts to the kitchen.
“Where are some large bowls? I showed him. I took two out of the drawer. He said, “When I am done, I’ll put the bowls of salsa in the refrigerator and you can can them when you want, OK?”
Me: “Oh, I’ll can them today. We may as well get it all done. Will you get the pressure cooker?”
Him: “Where is it?”
I was now actively involved.
Since canning is such a mess and needs two to clean up, I jumped off the cliff, and we created 16 pints of salsa, mixed and canned. You should have seen the kitchen. There was tomato sauce everywhere; spots on the floor, junk in the sink, counter tops full of utensils, pans, and canning equipment. Once, the concoction pulsed too fast, and Fred didn’t have the lid “quite” on ... the red, hunky mess flew everywhere. It splattered and blended in with the rest of the red decor..
We tasted, and I think Fred made a masterpiece. The salsa turned out well. We’ll see.
I have no recipe to share on this project. Fred adds by whim and tastes as he goes. This time, he bravely added hot peppers, jalapeno type. As we tasted, too many hots made our sinuses open up, so we did have a guide ... our noses.
When making salsa, it is not necessary to peel the tomatoes. Wash them well. Quarter them with generous amounts of onion chunks, add garlic or garlic salt, some green peppers, a jalapeno or two, cilantro (if you like it), a bit of lime juice, and voila!
My part in the salsa factory ...
I drain extra liquid out of the salsa in a colander. Then I scoop the salsa into clean jars, wipe the rims well, heat the lids in a pan of hot water on the stove, then slap on the lids, screw on the rings, and into the pressure cooker they go. Add about a cup of water to the pressure cooker if it is a large cooker. The pressure is 5 pounds, but I have occasionally forgotten and used the 10 pound pressure adjustment. Whatever. Ten minutes when it starts processing or jiggling. After ten, turn the pressure cooker off, and when it has released the pressure, then take the lid off, and remove the jars. If some have not yet sealed, tighten the lids and place them upside down on a toweled surface.
I saved some raw salsa for the refrigerator to eat with chips. Actually, the raw salsa is the best.
Soon, all of us will be buying tasteless, red, round something or others (called tomatoes) in the grocery store. Get hold of some garden tomatoes and at least chop up an onion, add garlic, chopped tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro. Get a bag of chips or cut up some cucumbers to save calories. But eat the salsa immediately. That’s the best way.
Judi Tabler lives in Pawnee County and is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune. She can be reached at email@example.com or juditabler@awomansview.