Ball’s current “Blue Book” ( I say current because I snapped a picture of the one at Wal-Mart) has a recipe for Spicy Tomato Salsa in it. This salsa is delicious by my way of doing it. I altered the recipe slightly out of necessity. You will see the necessities in parenthesis as I type it out. So give it a try if you have tomatoes this winter or even next Spring.
6 pounds of tomatoes (I used twelve, period. )
6 jalapeno peppers
9 dried hot chili peppers (I used three fresh hot, red peppers, not habanero but the other fresh red ones, and NOT bell pepper)
3 cups diced red onion ( I used one large red onion)
1 1/2 cups chopped cilantro (I used a whole “bunch”)
15 cloves garlic, minced ( mine: two to three heaping teaspoons of already minced garlic from the jar)
3/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (just add what looks like a teaspoon)
3/4 c. red wine vinegar ( I used straight vinegar with Cabernet Sauvignon wine to top it off. On the second batch I used Scaia wine, which is a corvina grape and can be purchased at Marcello’s in Lafayette LA) : I didn’t have red wine vinegar so I made my own!
Now there are complete instructions with the Ball guide, but this is how I did it.
Chop all ingredients, and do not blanch or remove skins from tomatoes. Throw all ingredients into a good size pot. (The older generations didn’t measure things or go to such long lengths of removing the skins from their tomatoes (except for sauces), they were happy to get it done and happier to have it to eat!)
Bring this mixture to a boil and then simmer for ten minutes. Fill your pint jars, add lids, process in a hot water bath (boiling water) for 15 minutes. I will say it is important to cover the jars with at least one inch of water in the hot water bath. That part I don’t mix up.
Then listen to the little pops as the jars seal once removed from the hot water bath! Enjoy now, or later! It really is just right, not too much heat and nothing else overpowered.
Preserving lemons is very useful for this winter fruit because it makes them last throughout winter until the next crop arrives. Not only does preserving them mellow out their boldness and tartness, this also heightens their flavorful essence. As I said in the other lemon post, preserved lemons are great (and a staple) in Moroccan foods, North Africa meals and of course used easily here in the States on any baked or grilled fish recipe.
When using the preserved lemons you only use the rind. Some sites say you can use the meat too, but I would stick with the rind, as preserved lemons are powerful.
Here’s the easy how to: (but don’t get in a hurry as they have to sit for three weeks!)
About 3 small to medium cleaned lemons
1 pint jar
1/4 c. Kosher salt, sea salt or canning salt.
2/3 c. juice from fresh lemons
Cut the lemons into quarters and place in a large enough bowl. Add the salt and toss with a spatula to cover the wedges with salt.
Place the lemon wedges in the pint jar, compacting as much as you can. When half full, sprinkle with some salt, then continue adding lemons wedges. Scrape the remaining salt from your bowl in to the jar when filled. Add the juice to cover the top of the lemons. Wipe the rim of you jar and seal the lid
Place in a cool dark place for three weeks, turning the jar upside down every 3-4 days for a few hours to distribute the juices.
The lemons are ready when the rind is soft and easily comes away from the flesh and pith.
To use, just pull a wedge out of the jar with tongs so as to not contaminate the others. Rinse the salt off quickly before use under cold running water. Use as much as the recipe calls for.
This is the time of year that lemons are ripe and ready to be picked here in Louisiana. So, I’ve been reading up on the various ways to preserve these tasty fruits. There are so many easy ways to preserve them and even more ways to use them.
The simplest way to preserve a lemon is cut it into quarters and slices, place on a cookie sheet to freeze individually, then transfer to a airtight container or Ziploc until you are ready for use. Any recipe that calls for slices of lemon are at your fingertips and ice cold water in the summer is a refreshing drink with lemon wedges added to it.
Whole lemons can be frozen as well. Although they may be a bit more soft when thawed, they will juice real well. You can even zest a frozen lemon! To thaw a frozen whole lemon, place in cold water for 15 minutes and proceed as usual.
Juice your lemons and freeze in ice cube trays, then when frozen transfer to a Ziploc for easy individual use. A regular ice cube tray holds two tablespoons of juice. You can use the juice to pour over other fruits to keep those fruits from discoloring. You can gargle with equal parts lemon juice and water to ease a sore throat. Eating a lemon wedge or sucking it’s juices can help cure scurvy, a common infection overseas for those of you that travel.
Zesting lemons is another way to preserve the flavor you long for, with a punch! The oils from the sexted rind are intense and can add an intense flavor to any meal, or baked good. If cooking with zest add it to the end of cooking. Zest only the color of the rind because the white pith will make dishes bitter. Store unused zest in a Ziploc, and again you can freeze this too.
Some final tips:
Adding juice during cooking contributes a bright, tanginess but little fruit flavor.
Never add juice to a still cooking sauce, add it after you remove the sauce, stew or gravy from the heat.
Add zest to get the impact, and add it toward the end of cooking for more impact.
Lemon wedges can also be preserved for use in Moroccan and African meals, as well as baked or grilled fish. (Look for the recipe to preserve lemons in the near future)
Lemon juice can be added to vinegar for a household cleaner
Drop a lemon rind or two in the garbage disposal for cleaning.
dry some lemon rinds after you’ve juiced them and use them as a fire starter with a great scent.