Zero Waste Living at Home: Canning

August 10, 2011

Tomorrow Sun People will be hosting three amazing women trained by WSU Extension in food preservation from 3 to 6 PM at the store. Come by if you can and get all your questions answered regarding this easy but detailed cooking tradition. All of our canning supplies will be 15% off!

Canning is not only a great way to preserve locally grown foods but also a great step toward minimizing one’s waste. Nothing beats reusable glass jars that you can use over and over again, year after year. My collection of Ball jars was given to me, by my mother—they must be at least 30 years old.

Over the past few weeks, I have been analyzing my consumption patterns and waste. I have lots of areas where I can make improvements. One area that immediately became apparent was salsa containers. My son loves salsa. He loves to lightly dip his tortilla chips in the salsa for his afternoon snack. I like to encourage this, since he is an extremely picky eater and salsa is one of the only ways to get him to eat tomatoes. As a family, we purchase about 3-4 plastic salsa containers every month. I typically try to reuse the containers for leftovers, etc., but now I am trying to move away from plastic storage containers –completely. The tubs are a number 5 plastic, which is not accepted (for now) in Spokane for recycling.

A few years ago, when Spokane had a bumper tomato crop, I made my own salsa from the book, Blue Ribbon Preserves (see recipe below) for the first time. It is a really basic recipe but received rave reviews from various family members—even my boyfriend’s extremely selective foodie of a brother, who lives in Seattle, writes for the New York Times and, who, to my surprise asked for the recipe!

I am not sure how my tomatoes will fare this year. But I have vowed to head out to Eleven Acres at Green Bluff, regardless. I need to stock up on salsa this year, and set aside the time to do so. It is time to cut out that little plastic tub out from our daily lives. Enjoy and hope to see you Thursday!


Mexican Garden Salsa, Excerpted from Blue Ribbon Preserves, p. 253

12 cups of cored chopped plum tomatoes

3 cups of chopped onion

3 cups of seeded, chopped Anaheim, Colorado or poblano chile peppers

1-3/4 cups seeded and chopped jalapeno chile peppers

1/2 cup of white wine vinegar

1/2 cup of strained lime juice

2 Tablespoons kosher or pickling salt

In an 8-quart stainless steel paan, combine all of the ingredients. Over medium-low heat, bring the mixture to a simmer and simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Ladle salsa into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Using a plastic knife, remove any trapped air bubbles. If necessary, add more salsa to maintain 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims and threads with a clean damp cloth. Cover with hot lids and apply screw rings. Process both half-pint jars in a 212F (100C) water bath for 15 minutes.




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