It’s time to stock up on Mason jars

Nature's bounty will keep your pantry stocked up for the winter

We are well into canning season now, and with the huge supply of fresh vegetables and fruit in our area, it’s the perfect opportunity to can, pickle, and make  all those special recipes that we love to eat and give as gifts.

I have my favourite salsas, pickles, antipasto, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauces, and spaghetti sauce recipes ready to go.

There are many great salsas to make and enjoy fresh or canned: tomato-based, green salsa, corn, pepper, fruit, mild to fiery hot, some with vinegar, others, especially fresh salsas, with lime juice, there is no end to the variety. Salsa can be served with tortilla chips, or try spooning warm salsa over scrambled eggs or an omelette for breakfast. Salsa makes a healthy dip for raw veggies such as cauliflower, carrot sticks, celery, cucumber slices, etc. Pour salsa over beans and rice for authentic Mexican flavor. Another idea is to mix sour cream or yogurt for a quick, low fat salad dressing.

Our first salsa below is a fresh delight I’m sure you’ll love. The second salsa is a simple tomato based salsa to can for the months ahead. This past week I saw the biggest supply and variety of peppers anywhere at Swan Lake Nurseryland so if you need peppers you’re sure to find what you need there. Happy canning.

Avocado Feta Salsa

2 plum tomatoes, chopped

1 ripe avocado — peeled, pitted and chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon snipped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar

4 ounces crumbled feta cheese

In a bowl, gently stir together tomatoes, avocados, onion and garlic. Mix in parsley and oregano. Gently stir in olive oil and vinegar. Stir in feta. Cover and chill 2 to 6 hours.

This is a chunky, savoury summer salsa that tastes great with pita or tortilla chips.

Simple Tomato Salsa to Can

8 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped, drained

2- 1/2 cups onions, chopped

1- 1/2 cups green peppers or mix colours

1 cup jalapeno peppers, chopped

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons pepper

1/8 cup canning salt

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup vinegar

1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (12 ounce) can tomato paste

Cut jalapenos in half, wear gloves — discard ribs and seeds; chop finely to make 1 cup.

In large heavy non-aluminum saucepan combine everything and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring often for 1 hour or until thickened; place 1 Tbsp. of salsa on a plate and tilt the plate — the salsa should flow slowly in one stream.

Meanwhile, fill boiling water bath canner about two thirds full with hot water; bring to just below a boil and keep it hot. Wash and rinse canning jars and bands. A few minutes before filling the jars, bring pot of water to a boil, and boil new lids for 5 minutes, turn off heat and leave the lids in the water to use right away.

Using a funnel fill each jar with hot salsa, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace; cover with lids, screw on bands firmly without forcing. Place jars in rack set on edge of canner, lower filled rack into water, pour in enough simmering water to cover jars by 1 – 2 inches; cover canner and bring to a full rolling boil; boil for 15 minutes; turn off heat.

This is a medium salsa and is chunky, so if you want a smoother salsa cut your veggies into smaller pieces.

Yields 3-6 quarts or pints.