Late summer our farm work turns towards preserving some of the bounty of vegetables overflowing our gardens. Recently farms members and staff harvested tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers, onions and cilantro and made a delicious salsa that we then water-bath canned.
Canning is a way of preserving food that can then be stored without the need for refrigeration. Water-bath canning is a method that preserves foods that are considered “high acid foods” using boiling water. Our farms’ canning recipes follow USDA research-based food preservation techniques and the curriculum we use is from Cornell Cooperative Extension’s New York State Master Food Preserver program.
To make our most recent farm’s Salsa we peeled and chopped a variety of tomatoes, mostly orange variety called Jubilee. We diced King of the North sweet peppers, habanero and jalapeño peppers, along with our mild-flavored New York Early variety onions and fresh herb, cilantro. We put all these together in a pot along with salt and vinegar, to insure a high enough acidity.
Once our salsa simmered for 10 minutes we quickly put it into pint-sized canning jars; this is called hot-packing. We then put the closed jars into a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Once we removed the jars from the water they sat, undisturbed for over 12 hours. The result was a delicious, shelf-stable salsa we can enjoy anytime over the next year; mid-winter seems like a particularly nice time to enjoy the colors and tastes from a summer garden. -Melissa MacKinnon, Farms Manager