Preserves in Action: Quick Blender Salsa

blender salsa above

Every summer, I make at least a dozen jars of salsa (my very favorite is the roasted corn salsa which is in my first book). As much as I try to ration those jars out across the year, they always run out too darned fast. As things stand now, I have two lone jars left that I’m saving for special snacking occasions.

However, when it comes to salsa, not all is lost when the homemade stash runs out. I still have at least 15 quarts of whole peeled tomatoes left from last summer’s canning sessions and so have been making batch after batch of blender salsa to satisfy my dipping needs.

chips and salsa side

I published my favorite recipe for blender salsa in a Super Bowl snacks piece on Table Matters about this time last year and it remains my go-to. The only change I make is that I drain a quart jar of whole peeled tomatoes (because I pack mine in water) and use them in place of the 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes. You can use either, depending on what you’ve got in your pantry.

I pour it on scrambled eggs, I use it as a braising medium for chicken thighs, and I scoop it into my mouth with tortilla chips (preferably the freshly fried chips from Tortilleria San Roman in South Philadelphia). And it’s a very good way to press your home canned tomatoes into action.

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Apple Horseradish Conserve

apple horseradish conserve jar

It was at least two years ago that I started imagining an apple jam with a bit of sinus-clearing horseradish for punch. I made note of it on my running list of recipe ideas and promptly moved on to other things. Each time I returned to that list for inspiration or to add a new idea, I’d spot it and promise myself that I’d try it soon. But it just didn’t happen.

apple sauce for conserve

Finally, back in December I got myself a knob of fresh horseradish and set out to see what an apple horseradish jam might taste like. Of course, as these things so often work out, I didn’t actually end up making jam. Instead, I made a conserve (anytime you add dried fruit or nuts to jam, it becomes a conserve).

You see, there was a bag of golden raisins on the counter as I was cooking, and I ended up adding a couple palmfuls for sweetness and texture. After a few tastes, I determined that it needed some vinegar for balance, a scattering of mustard seeds to compliment the horseradish, and just a little bit of cayenne fire.

grated horseradish overhead

The resulting preserve lands somewhere in between a jam and a chutney. You get the apple and raisin flavors in the beginning, but the bite will always finish with the horseradish and heat asserting themselves. I’m not sure that I’ve given up on the idea of a straight apple horseradish jam (or jelly!), but I’m really pleased with how this conserve turned out. It’s particularly good with cheese or eaten alongside bites of crisp roast potato.

apple horseradish conserve  close

A word about safety and acid levels. Horseradish is a lower acid food. Apples are quite high in acid. This preserve is made almost entirely of apples, with vinegar and lemon juice adding to the acid load. As it’s written, it is quite safe. However, please resist the temptation to increase the amount of horseradish, as that could lead to an unsafe preserve.

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Giveaway: New Ball Heritage Collection Green Jars

green heritage jars

As you might remember, Ball released a line of limited edition blue glass pint jars last year. It was a fun throwback to canning jars of yore and I enjoyed using them throughout the 2013 canning season (though I will confess, they do make my peaches look a bit little sickly).

This year, Ball is continuing the special edition trend with a limited release of green jars. These jars will be available in both regular mouth pint jars and wide mouth quarts, which is particularly exciting for those of who like to use wide mouth quart jars as drinking glasses (I’ll actually have more about my habit of drinking out of wide mouth quarts later this week). Just like the blue jars, they will be making a finite number, so if you fall in love with this particular look, make sure to stock up sooner rather than later.

green heritage jars in situ

Typically, I don’t like to write about new jars and products without having had a chance to experience them personally, but we had a little shipping snafu and the jars that were coming to me got a bit delayed. However, I promised a good giveaway this week and so made an exception. When I do get these jars into my hot little hands, I’ll be posting a follow-up post and some photos, so that you can get a better idea of what they look like in the real world.

Fillmore Container recently published a post on their blog about these new jars and they have a couple of additional images if you’re interested. They’ll also be taking online orders for them soon.

Now, here’s the giveaway scoop. The nice folks at Ball have given me 10 cases of the green pint jars to give away to 10 lucky winners (each winner will receive one case, which contains 6 jars). Here’s how to enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share how you’d use these new jars in your home.
  2. Comments will close at 12 noon on Sunday, February 2, 2014. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog later that day.
  3. Giveaway open to US residents only (so sorry, my further-flung readers).
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: The jars for this giveaway have been provided by the manufacturer at no cost to me. However, my opinions remain entirely my own. 

Links: Jar Jewelry, Links, and a Winner

Jar jewelry. It was only a matter of time.

On Friday night, I found myself in a Jo-Ann craft store. In need of a hobby beyond staring at my computer, I’ve recently started knitting (with lots of help from Knit Camp) and so wanted to pick up a few more sets of needles. However, I never leave a store like that without checking to see what they have in their jar section.

Normally, it’s just a few smooth-sided jars for crafting, but in this particular store, there was a whole quarter aisle devoted to a thing they’re calling “Jar Jewelry.” There were decorative lids (designed to sit on top of regular lids), chalkboard labels, and other little bits. I found some of it kind of charming, but the sets were small and quite pricy. I’m curious what you guys think about the idea of jar jewelry?

Now, links!

GIR spatulas

GIR spatula Many thanks to everyone who took the time to enter last week’s GIR spatula giveaway and share an update on their 2014 so far. Our winner is #230/Claire who said, “We have spent much of 2014 working on kitchen reno designs – so, 2014 has been SO MUCH FUN!”

I’ll have another fun giveaway for you guys tomorrow that I think you’ll like. Stay tuned!

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Photos from the Food in Jars Flickr Pool

Each Saturday, I dig through the Food in Jars Flickr pool and feature some of your photographs here in this space. If you’d like to see your hard work on the blog, please add your images to the group! And just so you know, Instagram and camera phone images are more than welcome. Here are this week’s selections.

Cinnamon Whiskey Jelly

Cinnamon whiskey jelly from Erin (she writes the blog Putting Up With Erin). It’s a combination of apple cider, bourbon, and cinnamon sticks and I only wish I could say that I’d thought of it first. I can’t stop imagining it with a sliver of crumbly, aged cheddar cheese.

365.25 - No more hiding under the bed.

I am just a little bit jealous of Melissa (who is also known as The Boastful Baker). She finally has a pantry big enough for her homemade preserves. Mine still live in random closets and under our bed.

apricot honey jam.

A gift of gorgeously hued apricot honey jam from Mostly Foodstuffs blogger Deena, to Cakewalk blogger Rebecca. I love what a small world it becomes thanks to the internet.

Sauced

Here’s a flashback to late summer tomatoes thanks to Christina of My Homespun Home. I’m about halfway through my own stash of tomatoes right now. How are the rest of you holding up with your home canned staples?

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Canning 101 + The New to Canning Series

jar lifter

A big part of my mission with this website it to help teach people how to can and demystify the process. That’s why you don’t just see me posting recipes and pretty pictures. Fairly frequently, I try to get down into the nitty gritty of canning and shine some light on the hows and whys.

Over the years, I’ve created two series that have attempted to create this space for food preservation education. The first was Canning 101 (which launched in 2010 with this post), which has been my catch-all for the minutia of canning. I’ve covered everything from how to loosen stuck rings to what to do if a jar breaks in the canner under that heading (all the Canning 101 posts can be found here).

The second series was the one I started last summer, under the name New to Canning? Start Here! I wrote two posts and then promptly got lost in book edits, classes, and the height of the canning season.

I want to bring back more of these education focused posts, but I need some suggestions. What are the topics you’d like to see me cover? What are your burning questions? Is there a canning term that needs more explanation? The comment box is officially open (though really, when does it ever close. This is the internet, after all) and I want to hear from you!

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