This weekend in Pickle Preserving Mania.
Mom and I are making about 5 different batches of goodies--I can hardly wait for the satisfaction of seeing my pantry cupboard stocked full of deliciousness (...and although my Mom always says it is my Dad who craves the satisfaction of a full cupboard, I think she enjoys it just as much--am I right Mom? :)
When I posted last about making pickles, I had a couple of questions about safety--so I thought I would address that issue (because I know if you have never canned before, it kind of freaks you out...). Let me start by saying, our family has been eating homemade pickles, salsa, tomatoes and relish since we were born--no one has ever gotten sick. Also, my Mom (and now me) have given countless jars of jam, dill pickles and relish as gifts--no one has ever gotten sick. That being said there are some "canning rules" you need to follow to ensure a successful batch.
1. Always use clean, sterilized jars. ( you can sterilize a couple of ways: in the dishwasher on the sanitize setting, boiling the jars, or placing them in a hot oven for 15 minutes)
2. Always make sure the utensils you are using are clean and fresh from the dishwasher (or hot soapy water)
3. Make sure if you are adding brine to the packed jars, that it is simmering or almost boiling--the heat is necessary!!
4. Always use clean lids-- you can reuse lids, but remember if they are dinged, rusty or otherwise damaged don't use them!
5. Soak your lids and rings in simmering water before you put them on the packed jars.
6. Make sure you wipe the top of the jars with a clean cloth just before applying the lids--you want to make sure that it gets a good seal, and if there is anything on the rim--you won't.
7. Generally speaking we only "heat process"--which means boil the packed jars--when making anything with tomatoes (mucho important!). Although many recipes recommend a heat process, we find it an unnecessary step--but use your own discretion!!
8. Have fun! And enjoy the fruits of your labour!!
Here is a favourite...and one we will make this weekend. Please note it is very hot and spicy!!! Beware!
8 cups chopped peeled tomatoes (if you pre-boil the tomatoes for a few seconds, the skin will peel right off)
4 cups chopped hot banana peppers
1 cup chopped hot red peppers
2 chopped fresh cayenne peppers
1 cup chopped and seeded jalapeno peppers
2 cups chopped onion
4 cloves minced garlic
2 cups cider vinegar (do not substitute)
1 can tomato paste
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp hot paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
In a large saucepan combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour or until thick enough to coat a spoon. Stir in additional heat such as dried cayenne, hot sauce, dried chilies if you want more heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Fill in sealed jars and process in boiling water for 20 minutes. (makes about 9 cups of sauce )
Tip: this recipe easily doubles or triples--just adjust the quantities...