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Saving Summer’s Bounty: A Foolproof Guide to Canning Late Summer Produce



Photo: Andrew Beeston/Flickr

 

In the midst of summer, our farmers’ markets and vegetable boxes are bursting with so many incredible fruits and vegetables. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with it all!

Canning is a great way to make your produce last long after the season has ended. With just a little prep, you can enjoy summer’s bounty all year long!

 

Oven-roasted tomatoes

There’s nothing better than opening a jar of these oven-roasted tomatoes in the middle of winter and enjoying a bright taste of summer.  They’re perfect with a loaf of crusty bread and a wedge of cheese, or even as a sauce for pasta.  Bring your kids to the farmers’ market with you and have them pick out their favorite type of tomatoes; the more colors you choose, the prettier the jars turn out.

Makes 6 half-pint jars

8-10 pounds tomatoes

Extra virgin olive oil (amount varies depending on tomatoes, but make sure you have a few cups on hand)

2 heads of garlic, cloves separated but not peeled

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon dried oregano

3 teaspoons salt

Handful of fresh basil

Red wine vinegar

 

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees and line two baking sheets with foil.  Rinse your tomatoes, then slice in half crosswise, or into quarters if they are particularly large.  Line the tomatoes on the baking sheets in a single layer, cut side up.  Drizzle generously with olive oil, then scatter over the garlic cloves, thyme, oregano, and salt.  Place the baking sheets in the oven and roast for about 4 hours, until much of the juices have evaporated, and the tomatoes have shrunk to about half their original size.  Remove from oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, set a large pot of water to boil.  Add your canning jars to the pot and boil for at least 10 minutes to sterilize your jars. Scoop some of the boiling water into a bowl and add the bands and lids to soak (don't boil them as you'll damage the rubber).  Once the jars are done, drain them back into the pot, then remove to a clean surface and set upright.  Keep the water in the pot on heat.

As the tomatoes cool, peel the cloves of roasted garlic.  Transfer the tomatoes and the garlic to your sterilized jars, alternating them with the fresh basil.  Fill the jars with olive oil, leaving about 1 inch of space at the top of each jar.

Add 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar to each jar (the added acidity helps prevent any bacteria from developing), then top off with olive oil if necessary, leaving a final half-inch of space.  Use a clean chopstick to knock out any air bubbles, then use a clean paper towel to wipe off the rims.  Top with sterilized lids, and tighten bands until just finger-tight.

Place the jars back into the pot of boiling water (on top of a canning rack or kitchen towel to keep them from clattering around), make sure they’re covered by at least 1 inch of water, then keep at a steady boil for 30 minutes. Carefully remove the jars with canning tongs and let them cool for a few hours without disturbing them, until the buttons on the lids depress.  Store in a cool, dry place for up to one year. (If any of the buttons fail to depress, keep jar in refrigerator and use within a few months.)

 

Quick dill pickles

Pickles are a great addition to a plate, whether it’s on top of a burger, aside a tuna sandwich, or as part of a cheese board. If you’re growing your own cucumbers, have your kids help you pick them for this project.  It’s a fun job and helps them learn about food and where it comes from.

Makes 4 pint jars

Pickling spice:

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 tablespoon dill seeds

1 teaspoon peppercorns

2 bay leaves, crushed

 

3lbs pickling cucumbers

2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 cups cider vinegar (5% acidity)

1 teaspoon sugar

8 cloves garlic

4 sprigs fresh dill

 

Combine the ingredients for the pickling spice and set aside.

In a nonreactive pot, combine the salt, vinegar and 2 cups of water, and bring to a boil until the salt is dissolved.  Set aside. Meanwhile, set a large pot of water to boil.  Add your canning jars and boil for at least 10 minutes to sterilize your jars.  Scoop some of the boiling water into a bowl and add the bands and lids to soak (don't boil them as you'll damage the rubber).  Once the jars are done, drain them back into the pot, then remove to a clean surface and set upright.  Keep the water in the pot on heat.

Cut your cucumbers into quarters lengthwise. Place one sprig of dill and two cloves of garlic in each jar, then divide the pickling spice between them. Pack the cucumbers into the jars snugly, then top with the vinegar/salt mixture, leaving ½ inch headspace.  Use a clean chopstick to knock out any air bubbles, wipe the rims with a clean paper towel, then top with sterilized lids and tighten bands until just finger-tight.

Place the jars back into the pot of boiling water (on top of a canning rack or kitchen towel to keep them from clattering around) and repeat steps above for sealing jars; however, only boil for 10 minutes. If any of the buttons fail to depress, keep jar in refrigerator and use within a few months.

 

Roasted tomatillo salsa

This tangy salsa makes a great addition to any taco feast (or just alongside some grilled chicken or fish) and knocks the socks off anything you can buy in a jar.  Roasting the ingredients adds smokiness and helps to temper the acidity of the tomatillos. Have your kids help to peel the papery husks from the tomatillos: it’s a fun (and safe) kitchen project for them.  (Feel free to omit the chiles if you don’t like spice; this salsa still bursts with flavor even without them.)

Makes 4 pint jars

3 ½ lbs tomatillos

5 medium jalapeño peppers, stemmed

8 cloves garlic, peeled

1 medium white onion, diced

1 bunch of cilantro leaves, chopped (about 1 cup)

1 cup lime juice

1 tablespoon salt

 

Peel husks and remove stems from the tomatillos.  Rinse well, then cut in half crosswise.  Set a nonstick skillet over medium heat, then dry-roast the tomatillos, jalapeños and garlic, turning a few times, around 8-10 minutes total.

Meanwhile, set a large pot of water to boil.  Add your canning jars and boil for at least 10 minutes to sterilize your jars.  Scoop some of the boiling water into a bowl and add the bands and lids to soak (don't boil them as you'll damage the rubber).  Once the jars are done, drain them back into the pot, then remove to a clean surface and set upright.  Keep the water in the pot on heat.

Once the tomatillos are browned and soft, remove from heat and add everything from the pan to a blender along with the onion and cilantro.  Blend to a coarse puree, then transfer to a large nonreactive pot and bring to a boil.  Stir in the lime juice and the salt.

Ladle the salsa into the jars, leaving ½ inch headspace.  Use a clean chopstick to knock out any air bubbles, wipe the rims with a clean paper towel, then top with sterilized lids, and tighten bands until just finger-tight.

Place the jars back into the pot of boiling water (on top of a canning rack or kitchen towel to keep them from clattering around) and repeat steps above for sealing jars; however, only boil for 5 minutes. If any of the buttons fail to depress, keep jar in refrigerator and use within a few months.


Jo Eike is a writer and a cook always in search of her next favorite recipe.  She lives in Seattle with her husband and three children.

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