Keep canning safety in mind

When canning up your summer fruit and vegetables, there are a few simple tips to remember

Cathi Litzenberger

Morning Star Columnist

If you’re new to home canning, my recipes today will fit the bill for simplicity and up-to-date methods.

Does your family likes salsa? If so, now is the time to try making and preserving your own, as nothing store-bought can compare to the freshness or flavour of homemade salsas. Markets and home gardens are full of tomatoes, peppers and onions, not to forget fruits, which lend themselves to unique blends of salsas. Another nice thing about making your own salsa is having the control over adjusting the heat to your own taste.

A few tips to keep in mind when making salsas include: using a stainless steel saucepan to cook the ingredients in, using a non-metallic utensil to remove bubbles from the jars, always use gloves when handling hot peppers, ladle hot salsa into hot jars, and don’t over-tighten the rings, finger-tight is perfect.

Today I have a very simple recipe for beginners wanting to give it a first try. It’s from the Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving book, which I recommend everyone obtain, since knowledge for safe methods of canning have certainly changed over the years.

The second recipe I started using when I’d have leftover cobs of corn. It takes a little time to prepare but is well worth the effort.

Tomato and Pepper Salsa

(courtesy Bernardin)

9 cups coarsely chopped tomatoes, about 5 lbs.or 20 medium tomatoes

6 cups chopped red and green peppers

1 pkg.(115g) Bernardin Salsa Mix

1-1/3 cups cider vinegar

Wash, seed and coarsely chop tomatoes and peppers; drain off excess liquid. Measure 9 cups tomatoes and 6 cups peppers.

In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine salsa mix and cider vinegar. Add tomato/pepper mixture and stir continuously until well-mixed; bring to a full rolling boil; turn heat down so mixture boils gently, uncovered for 5 minutes.

Ladle into hot jars to within 1/2-inch of the rim. Remove air bubbles and wipe rims clean. Seal and water-process in canner for 15 minutes (250 ml jars) or 20 minutes (for 500 ml jars). Cool upright, undisturbed for 24 hours before checking seals and cleaning for storage.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

8 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped and drained

2-1/2 cup onions, chopped

1-1/2 cups green and red bell peppers, chopped

1 cup jalapeno peppers, chopped

1 hot pepper of your choice

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. black pepper

1/8 cup pickling salt

1/3 cup vinegar

2 tbsp. lime or lemon juice

2 tbsp. sugar

1 (15 oz.) tomato sauce

1 (12 oz.) tomato paste

1 (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups fresh corn niblets, frozen or canned

Put all ingredients into a large stainless steel pot and mix well. Heat to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally to prevent any scorching. Lower heat and boil gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until salsa reaches desired consistency (about 30 minutes).

Ladle into hot, sterilized jars to within 1/2-inch of rims. Remove air bubbles and seal. Process in hot water bath canner for 15 minutes (250 ml jars) or 20 minutes for 500 ml. jars. Remove from water and let sit for 24 hours before checking seal, cleaning jars and storing. Makes 7-9 pints or 4-5 quarts.