Summer seems to be slipping away quickly, despite any efforts on my part to hold on to it a bit longer. As much as I love the autumn season, all the changing of the leaves, sweaters and scarves, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, there are a few particular things I will miss about summer. Waking up to the sun already rising, the birds chirping in the morning, the crickets singing in the evening, the warmth of the sun and the bounty of local produce. At summer’s end, once winter has come and settled in, I begin to start longing for the fresh ripe in season produce that summer shares.
Although the daylight is longer during the summer, the days seem to still race by, leaving me an allotted amount of time to preserve food. Currently, my freezer is filled to the brim with fruits, hand picked by my family and vegetables from our garden. How lovely it will be to indulge in them throughout the cold and dark days of winter. But of all of summer’s tucked away treasures in my freezer and pantry, what I truly look forward to savouring every year are canned tomatoes.
When canned, they maintain that summer fresh taste all winter long. No sooner does the first snowflakes fall, when the world has turned to white, I reach into the pantry to grab some summer tomatoes, preserved and waiting for us. Perfectly imperfect, oblong, vibrant red and no longer firm to the touch. Opening a jar of canned salsa is like welcoming summer back into my home even after I’ve said goodbye to it. When the nights are bitter cold, and I cannot wear enough layers to keep warm, this spicy salsa does the trick. Curled up under an enormous pile of blankets, engaged in a book on tape or possibly indulging in a movie, remembering summer and how it always comes back, every year, without fail. (my apologies for speaking such dreadful words such as winter, snow and cold while we’re still in the heat of August, but when it comes to eating locally, one has to not only think seasonally, but also ahead to the coming seasons).
makes 2 500mL jars of salsa
adapted from Ellie Topp’s recipe in Small Batch Preserving
8 roma tomatoes
1 large onion
4 cloves of garlic
5 hot jalapeños
2 small hot peppers (or jalapenos)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoons salt (or pickling salt)
1 teaspoons clover honey
Rinse and dry tomatoes, slice off the ends and then chop in half, place them in a food processor on a lower speed and pulse until coarse. Remove, add into a clean, large, heavy bottomed pot.
Chop the onions and garlic, throw them into the food processor.
Now this step is very important, put on some gloves, otherwise your hands will be burning (trust me on this one!). Remove the stems of the hot peppers (remove seeds for a slightly less spicy salsa) and slice them in half, toss them into the food processor along with the garlic and onions. Pulse until fine. Throw into the pot along with the tomatoes.
Pour the cider vinegar and honey into the pot and give everything a good mix. Sprinkle in the oregano and salt, stirring. Place the pot on the stove, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the salsa is thickened.
At this point you can ladle into jars to eat within a week, freeze, or can. Personally, I prefer to can the salsa, allowing us enjoy it months later when fresh peppers and tomatoes are not bursting from the garden.
Now that the temperature has dropped here quite a bit, I am gearing up for the return of autumn. I’ve already taken the comfy blankets from the attic down and draped them loosely across the back of our armchair and couch. Nothing like cozying down after a long day with a cup of tea and a blanket. Although, I am not going to wish summer goodbye quite yet… but I get excited about every season, there isn’t a season I don’t love.
Are you a food preserver? What is your tried and true recipes that you stock away for the winter?
Kristin Jukes blogs at The Seasonal Family about the changes of life as a family from season to season. After the birth of her and her husband’s first child in 2008, she began to slowly change their families diet to one high in whole foods. With various food allergies, many of the recipes are wheat free, egg free, peanut free and refined sugar free. Now, a mommy of two little ones, her site content continues to expand to homesteading and homeschooling while striving to be a Godly wife and mother.