Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Homemade Salsa Adds Flair and Nutritive Value

Any High Country gardener knows the rain has made this a bad year for tomatoes. Fortunately, I was able to purchase Roma tomatoes at the Watauga market last weekend for a salsa cooking demonstration. Although any kind of tomato may be used, Romas are the meatiest and hold up when canning salsa.

Salsa definitely adds nutritive value to tortilla chips, with ½ cup of it qualifying as a serving of vegetables. Boneless chicken or pork tenderloin topped with salsa makes a quick, elegant dinner entrĂ©e. And of course, it’s great with any kind of Mexican food.

This recipe is almost impossible to stop eating on tortilla chips. Since the peppers are seeded, it is pretty mild, and even children love it.

Tomato and green chili salsa
Makes 6 pints

6 cups peeled, cored, chopped tomatoes
6 cups seeded, chopped long green chili peppers
1 ½ cup chopped onions
2 jalapeno pepper, seeded, finely chopped
12 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 cups vinegar (5 percent acidity)
1 teaspoon ground cumin, optional
4 teaspoons oregano leaves, optional
3 teaspoons salt

Do not touch your face while handling chilies. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face. Wash and rinse canning jars; keep hot until ready to use. Prepare lids according to manufacturer’s directions. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan, and heat, stirring frequently, until mixture boils. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle hot into pint jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Wipe top of jar with clean cloth, adjust lids and process in a boiling water canner: 15 minutes at 0 to 1,000 feet altitude; 20 minutes at 1,001 to 6,000 feet. Start timing when water (1 – 2 inches over jars) starts boiling.

If you aren’t able to find tomatoes or would like a tropical flair, try this recipe. Mango is available in stores at a reasonable price.

Mango salsa
Makes 6 pints
12 cups diced unripe mango (about 7 or 8 large, hard green mangoes)
3 cups diced red bell pepper
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
4 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
2 cups light brown sugar
2 ½  cups cider vinegar (5 percent acidity)
1 cup water

Wash and rinse canning jars; keep hot until ready to use. Prepare lids according to manufacturer’s directions. Wash all produce well. Peel and chop mangoes into ½- 1
inch cubes. Dice bell pepper into ½-inch pieces. Finely chop yellow onions. Combine all ingredients in an 8-quart Dutch oven or stockpot. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce to simmering, and simmer 5 minutes.

Fill hot solids into clean, hot pint jars, leaving ½ -inch headspace. Cover with hot liquid, leaving ½ -inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars, then apply two-piece metal canning lids. Process in a boiling water bath: 10 minutes at 0 to 1,000 feet altitude; 15 minutes at 1,001 to 6,000 feet. Start timing when water (1 – 2 inches over jars) starts boiling. Let cool, undisturbed, for 12 to 24 hours, and check for seals.
Margie Mansure, M.S., R.D. is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and extension agent with NC Cooperative Extension. She offers personalized classes to improve the health of citizens in Watauga County through worksites, schools and community groups. (828)264-3061

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

It's Fair Time

Share the bounty of the summer.  What has kept you engaged and creative this year?  The Mountain State Fair is an opportunity to display your talents.  All sorts of fun will be taking place at the Mountain State Fair on September 6-15 at the WNC Agricultural Center in Fletcher.  Rides, foods, cooking contests, entertainment and exhibits will be in store for visitors.  Exhibits range from crafts, photographs, art, and jewelry to honey products, fruits and vegetables and animals.  While attending the fair is lots of fun, getting your entries down there beforehand may be inconvenient.  The Pony Express picks up your non-perishable items and delivers them to the fair so all you need to do is go down and see all the goodies.  Your items will be delivered back after the fair, along with any ribbons you may have earned.  You can find the whole catalog online now here.

Items are due to the Cooperative Extension office by August 19.   Be sure to include an entry form.  See here for Pony Express details.

Youth are encouraged to participate.  Perhaps they made lots of crafts this summer or grew some beautiful veggies.  See here for a summary of youth entries.