Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Canning Chili - All in the Sauce

For first time gardeners our little garden did very well at the beginning of summer, my son and I were able to freeze a lot of green beans and can a ton of banana peppers. I'm not sure why everyone says 'canning' when they go in jars but that just shows my lack of experience. I'm sure there is a good reason, I just don't know it. Anyway, our tomatoes seemed to be just flourishing at the beginning of summer, lots and lots of green tomatoes, the vines seemed to be growing quickly, and both my husband and I thought we would get too many. Ok, that's not exactly true, I was afraid we'd get too many and I would be juicing them for chili for many, many hours without much help. Well as summer progressed the tomatoes didn't seem to be ripening and no matter how many time we tied the vines to stakes they always seemed to collapse. Now I became a little disappointed because I did want to have some chili sauce stored for fall and winter.

The worry of too many tomatoes comes from when I had juiced them once before when my son was just a baby. It was my first time, it took me all day, did I mention my son was a baby (2 months old) and I was a first time mom and my father-in-law set it up for me in my kitchen with a carpeted dining room attached and I don't like huge messes. I knew I had to do it but I really didn't enjoy it. I remember crying.

After that first experience I was a little hesitant to be excited about doing it again, five years later. I knew it would be great to have the chili but wasn't exactly looking forward to the process. Well this time was completely different - it was FUN!

My husband and I picked as many as we could and he had guessed that we had at least 20 pounds and they should give us a couple quarts. I washed and cut the tomatoes while he put the juicer and table together OUTSIDE! If you can do this outside, do it outside; the tomatoes and juicer make such a mess.

Once we juiced all of them, we brought the pot inside to mix the chili seasoning and bring to a boil. I boiled the chili sauce for about 15 minutes while I brought the cold water bath up to a boil. As you can see from the pictures we don't have the correct pot for the cold water bath. I put the chili sauce into the quart mason jars and my husband lowered, kind of dropped the jars into the water. I boiled the jars for about 20 minutes and then he lifted them out. We also don't have the jar lifters to lift them out so he used mining gloves and a set of tongs. I highly recommend buying the necessary equipment if you do this because we both burned our hands and splashed boiling water everywhere. He guessed from the pot of sauce we'd get six jars, I guessed seven - we were able to successfully get 7 quarts of chili out of our little garden.

Takeaways from today's process:
1. Juice tomatoes outside
2. Have help
3. Get the right equipment

Previous gardening posts
Momma's Little Gardner
First Garden, First Peppers

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