Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

How Could I Forget About Salsa!?

I've been up to my ears in Roma tomatoes.  With our cockeyed weather this spring and summer, I was beginning to doubt that they'd ripen before our predicted first frost date of October 11th (earliest recorded was Sept 24th), I needn't have worried. My tomatoes have come in, and in, and in.

I was so concerned, I started last month picking them green and ripening fast via the brown paper bag and banana peel trick. Now, I'm picking them as soon as they start to blush because the insects are so bad. The heat wave of spring (100+ temps) killed off half of my plants and all of my marigolds. I should have gone to Lowe's and replaced them, but I didn't. Dumb move, Jo. Hindsight is always 20/20. This year, I haven't seen a single aphid, but the squash beetle infestation has been horrible and the caterpillars have started their munching cycle two months late. I'm thanking God for this. But my tomatoes are paying for it.

Tomatoes with heavy blush
I have to pick them when I first see the blush or the caterpillars will get them. I went through my row of Romas first thing after sun up, about 7 am. I counted 24 tomatoes just starting to blush. I decided to wait and pick them on my late evening garden pass before dinner. I wanted them to get a day's worth of sunshine to ripen some more. Big mistake! When I went to get them later, there were holes all in them. I salvaged eight of them. The rest went over the fence to the eagerly waiting chickens. They love following me around the garden. Well, at least they ate good. I was mad, but lesson learned. I picked all the rest of the blushed tomatoes. I was kicking myself all the way to the house. As I washed, stemmed, and placed them in the window sill, I vowed never again.

I was making sauce with my tomato harvest. Pizza sauce, BBQ sauce, even freezing them in two gallon bags. In case you didn't know, the skins slip off of frozen tomatoes as they thaw.  Between the Romas and the Cherokees, we are in tomato heaven. All those half pint jars of bacon I canned during "Operation Empty the Freezer" made fixing BLTs a breeze. I've been dicing, slicing, and quartering tomatoes like they were going out of style.

Not my salsa
I was entering the latest batch of tomato canning into Mel's Food Master List canning program when I noticed my salsa inventory... 1 half pint jar! How could I have forgotten the salsa?! Now in my salsa recipe I use at least four different types of tomatoes and four different types of peppers. I use cilantro as well as basil. Yeah, yeah. I'm cockeyed like that. I don't make salsa in NYC or TX. I make what we like my way here in the Northeast GA foothills.

I still had two of the tomato varieties I needed and only one of the four types of peppers I needed. A quick call to Cliff at Jarhead Farm, a neighboring organic farm, quickly solved this problem after I told him what I was making. He had some Rutgers and cherry tomatoes left. Not a whole lot, but enough to balance the flavor profile I wanted. He grew a new type of warmish Japanese pepper, for him, called Shishito, he said would be a good substitute for Jalapenos (he knows Mel doesn't like it too hot) and a couple other sweet peppers. While some people add stuff like sugar to their salsas, I let my vegetable do it for me.Cliff was a life saver!

I brought home my goodies and started chopping. The cherry and Rutger tomatoes were juicier than I liked so did them first in the pot and let them cook down to half the volume. Then I used a stick blender to grind them into a thick sauce. This wasn't the usual way I made salsa, but beggars can't be choosers when it came to my tomatoes. Usually, my tomatoes were firmer and gave off a little in the way of liquid. Most times the watery stuff is left in the bowl after the salsa is gone. I always felt this was a waste. I hoped to remedy this by making the liquid more sauce like.

Next, I added my diced plum tomatoes, peppers. onions, herbs and spices. I don't bother peeling them for salsa. I stirred it well and brought the whole mixture up to a simmer. After 30 minutes, the salsa was ready to be jarred and processed them.

Of all the jars of pasta sauce, diced, and stewed tomatoes, I almost forgot my jars of salsa. It turned out beautifully delicious. Only one pint jar out of 18 didn't seal. Perfect to accompany the steak burritos I have planned for supper. That reminds me. I need to make refried beans too. I better grab a pint of pinto beans I canned during winter from the stores building. While I'm at it, a half pint of my corn relish will go nicely in the rice too. Well, I'm off to "shop."

Y'all have a blessed day.
Jo



2 comments:

  1. Yum, homemade salsa. So much better to make it yourself, to taste. Never heard of Shishito peppers, but then there are so many kinds! I really like Serranos myself. Not terribly hot (that's relative, of course!) but with a very good flavor.

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    Replies
    1. Leigh, Shishito peppers are an Asian variety of pepper, (organic, heritage). Similar to Serranos in flavor, but thinner walled like a banana pepper. I actually found some in my local grocery store this week. So this year's batch of salsa has an Asian-Italian twist. U love the freedom home cannimg offers.

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