Summer is here! The gardens are growing fast and just waiting to burst with all kinds of treasures! Now is the busy time of year, as we prepare to work like busy ants and prepare for the long winter months ahead.
I enjoy making relish type preserves. Be it pickle style relish or hot pepper style relishes. A common relish made by the Amish is called Chow Chow. The recipe below is for a spicy Chow Chow. Canning steps are included.
Recipe makes 12 pints
2 quarts of green beans
1 large head of cauliflower (separated into floweretes)
3 cups of shelled baby lima beans
3 cups of fresh whole kernel corn
1 quart of chopped onions
4 sweet green peppers chopped
1 – 4 of your favorite hot pepper chopped and deveined and seeded (Note: You choose your level of pain, jalapeno pepper on up. If you want no heat, add in a sweet bell pepper of a different color other than green to the peppers above.)
2 quarts of chopped green tomatoes
3 quarts of apple cider vinegar
4 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of pickling salt
2 tablespoons of celery seed
2 tablespoons of yellow mustard seed
2 tablespoons of dry mustard
1 tablespoon of powdered turmeric
Cut the green beans into 1/2 inch pieces.
Cook the green beans, cauliflower floweretes, lima beans and corn separately in boiling water until barely tender.
Drain, mix with the onions, peppers and tomatoes in a very large kettle.
In a separate pot, bring the vinegar to boil.
Add in the sugar, salt, celery seed, mustard seed, dry mustard and turmeric into the boiling vinegar and stir until the sugar is dissolved completely.
Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables.
Bring to a boil and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir throughout the boiling process.
Ladle into sterilized canning jars leaving 1/2 inches headspace (approximately 12 pint jars will be needed).
Process your lids according to the water bath or steam bath method you are using for your canner.
Place lids and bands on a clean top canning jar and screw on tight (not like Sampson tight, but tight enough to hold well.)
Water bath/Steam bath can for 25 minutes.
Take out of the canner and let rest for 24 hours (don’t move from their resting place for 24 hours).
Listen for the glorious pop sound of the jar sealing.
If any of the jars do not seal, you can exchange lids and re-can the jar or put that jar in the refrigerator to be the first to enjoy.
Always refrigerate after opening a jar or an unsealed jar.
The sealed jars will last about 2-3 years in a cool pantry.
One of the most basic garden vegetables are tomatoes, cherry or normal size. Its how many people get hooked on growing their own food. One reason is because they are so prolific and easy to grow. Note, Prolific! Cherry, grape, salad tomatoes especially will create a ton of tomatoes during a season. While in February as you long for the taste of a fresh, real, non-store bought tomato, by September you never want to eat one again. Yet, they still continue to cover your plants! What to do with all of them.
Unless you pickle the cherry tomatoes, you will have to find many friends to pawn them off on, they are too much trouble to can, in my opinion. If you have larger tomatoes and don’t can, you will be in this same boat. I don’t like to freeze tomatoes, they take up too much room and it is a messy processes. What I like to do is dehydrate them and turn them into powder. Yes, you read that right.
Powdered tomatoes are perfect for a vegetable thickener in sauce and pasta dishes as well as a base vegetable bullion for soups and stews. The best thing is that 5 pounds of tomatoes can fit into a half-pint jar! Space! I really like this for my cherry tomatoes because the prep goes so fast, they add up fast and nothing is left to waste.
Here are the directions.
Wash your tomatoes.
Cut out any blemishes and stem area.
Slice thin and place on your dehydrator rack (or on a cookie sheet with parchment paper if you are going to use your oven).
Make sure they are not overlapping. Tomatoes contain a lot of water.
I place my dehydrator on medium heat and this takes about 7 hours. If you are using your oven, use the lowest heat and crack the door open to dry your slices.
Dry until they are completely crispy with NO MOISTURE.
You can leave in this state if you want to vacuum seal at this stage and use like sun dried tomatoes as well. I have one friend that will use vinegar and oil and put the in the refrigerator to use in salads. I prefer not to utilize refrigerator space in that way. This state also makes a wonderful sun dried tomato salad dressing.
Place your ‘chips’ in a grinder and grind until a powder.
You can also add dehydrated garlic, onion, peppers, pretty much anything you want at this stage and grind all together to make sure its well mixed. This would make a lovely stock base.
Next transfer into an airtight container that is resistant to air and to moisture. I prefer to vac-seal my jars with the exception of one that I will use often and that one will be put in my spice cabinet.
This powder has so many uses. My favorite way is to add a little tomato flavor and a thickener to dishes without all the water content. It works great as an alternative to a small amount of tomato paste as well.