Posts Tagged salsa

The beauty of long weekends

Two days without work is one thing. Three days is something completely different, and 40+ jars of tomatoes and tomato sauce obviously were not going to be enough. It was time to finish up those tomatoes, time to experiment, and time to have a little fun.

First up were the elephant plums I bought at the farmers’ market on Saturday — they look beautiful and they have a wonderful summer-fall taste.  After careful consideration, I decided to pair them with ginger, and I decided to wing it with the recipe because I really have not got a clue what elephant plums really are. (Edit: After a few internet investigations, I think they might actually be pluots, which are a plum apricot cross. If so, may I recommend pluots as a fruit to jam.)

I’ve had success with other fruits with a 4-3-2 mix (4 cups fruit, three cups sugar and juice of two lemons), so that was what I did, chopping the fruit and adding a half cup of chopped up candied ginger for a bit of a kick. I brought the mix up to a boil until it stopped foaming and let it boil for another 3 minutes or so until I thought I had a set. It’s a little runny, if truth be told, but nothing wrong with that.

And I think I consider this to be success — a glorious deep red jam with a little bit of a bite from the chewy ginger chunks. I think I should cut the sugar next time though. The ginger has sugar after all. It would be a little less of a jam.

From there things moved on at lightning pace as we processed the rest of the tomatoes and saving a few for a peach tomato salsa with a slightly-too-gentle kick. It was also a made up recipe of sorts, in that I took my favorite bits of two that I found online and hoped for the best.

Peach tomato salsa (inspired by the blueberry files and long distance table)

5 cups chopped, peeled peaches (half were ripe, half less so)
3 cups chopped, peeled tomatoes
1 chopped, peeled apple
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red pepper
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp sriracha (1-1/2 tsp would have been better)
1 cup cider vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup sugar (I used a mix of white and brown)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Mix all ingredients except the cilantro and simmer for 15 minutes or so until thick. Add cilantro, and bottle in hot jars. Water bath 15 minutes.

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Shame about the salsa

A tomato pepper salsa made with the summer’s tomato glut is really one of the prettiest can-stuff I’ve made for ages, with a deep red-orange base with flecks of green chile and stripes of deeper red from the roasted red peppers. But to be honest, I just don’t like the taste.

I mean this baby looks beautiful, and I’m glad we gave it a go. But to me it just tastes of heat, while a chutney, even one with chile, has a far more rounded sugar-spice-vinegar offering.

Or maybe it was that ready-made spicing that did it. It’s a first time, and maybe a last, but we used a mix. I admit it made things easier.

But never again. That’s all I can say.


1 (out of five). It gets a point for looking so beautiful. It loses four because I don’t like it.

Please note: these ratings are deeply personal. The spouse, who likes his food spicier than I do, thinks this one is just fine.

Anyone want the final jar?

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Red shirt day

Thought for the day: When canning tomatoes, it really helps to wear a red t-shirt.

Saturday was the second of two tomato sessions, as canning buddy and I transformed a half bushel of Roma tomatoes into stuff that will keep us in pasta sauce for a while, liaising from time to time with a parallel can-o-rama venture over in New Jersey. There were jars of tomato sauce, with carrots, peppers and onions, jars of tomato salsa, with peppers, onions and spices, and a few more jars of plain old crushed tomatoes when we got fed up with looking up recipes. We made tomato jam too, but more of that anon. And of course there were spatters of tomato over clothes, and every surface of the kitchen. Why is tomato juice so much more likely to end up sliding down the white rim of the stove than on the black cooking surface itself?

Mindful of dire internet warnings about nasty bugs growing in canned tomatoes, we kept to the recipes pretty religiously, using bought lemon juice instead of fresh (apparently the acid content is more reliable) and using a package for the spicing in the salsa (I know, I’m shocked too, but it was an experiment). The only change was omitting celery and adding red pepper to the main sauce. It’s curious, but celery is one of the few things that I really detest.  Strong taste, lots of water and nothing but crunch.

And then, thanks to the Internet, there was a glorious green-flecked, rust-red tomato-basil jam, where three pounds of ripe tomatoes melt down to just two jars of something that seems to be half way between a jam and a chutney, with ingredients that include vinegar, sugar and lots of basil.  I was aiming to open that solitary jar for a celebration dinner last night, but forgot, so guidance on the taste will come a little later.

I can, however, offer a taste test of that zucchini lemon jam from a few weeks back. It’s heavy on the lemon and somewhat chewy from the lemon peel, with a perfect set and a few strands of zucchini that don’t actually taste of zucchini at all. There’s not much of a basil taste, perhaps because I actually used lemon basil rather than actual basil.

Rating: 4 (out of 5). It gets points for taste, set, novelty value, and for the color, which is a delicate shade of kiwi green with flecks of dark (basil) and light (zucchini). But it loses a point because it just doesn’t wow me as much as I thought it would. Shame.

So let’s see. I did jam from tomatoes and zucchini already. Is there an eggplant jam that I could use to complete the ratatouille?

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