Zesty Roasted Hatch Chili Pepper Salsa

One of my favorite times of the year has finally arrived. Hatch Chili Pepper season!. In Hatch, New Mexico the Hatch Chili Pepper is grown and around August/September time they become available in the store. I really enjoy the flavor of the peppers, and I find that they’re best after they’ve been roasted.

hatch chili peppers

The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving book has a great Zesty Salsa Recipe. I use Hatch Chili Peppers in place of the the jalapeno or other spicy peppers.

Things you will need:

Tomatoes: Peeled, cored and seeded.
Hatch Chili Peppers
Onions
Bell Peppers
Apple Cider Vinegar
Sea Salt
Garlic
Cilantro

And of course: clean jars, lids and rings

As with any canning recipe the size of the batch can be adjusted as long as you keep the proportions the same. Peppers and onions are low acid vegetables and too many of them will increase the risk of botulism occurring in the salsa. One of the most important ingredients is the vinegar to keep the acidity up to a safe level.


Now Hatch Chili Peppers have an outer skin that is tougher than most peppers. To get the great roasted flavor, and to remove the skin the peppers need to be charred a bit. I normally rinse my peppers and place them on my gas grill for several minutes until the outer skin has started to turn dark and blistered. I like to keep a little heat in my peppers so I throw them on whole without removing the seeds.

Another way to char the peppers is to use the broiler in an oven or to even heat them on a skillet on the stove. The primary goal is to loosen the pepper’s skin.

hatch chili peppers on the grill

Salsa Tip: The heat from the peppers comes from the seeds and the veins inside the pepper. To adjust the heat level of your salsa to a lower level just remove some or all of the seeds and scrape the inside of the peppers. It’s very important to wear gloves if you are handling peppers to reduce getting burned. And as always wash with plenty of soap and water if you do get pepper juice on your skin.

To remove the skin from tomatoes bring a pot of water to a boil and then gently drop the tomatoes into the boiling water. After 15-60 seconds most tomatoes will start to show cracks in the skin. At that point remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and place them in a large bowl full of ice water. Leave the tomatoes for a minute or two to cool down and then use your fingers to slip the skins off. At this point you can also use your fingers to remove the core and seeds.

Don’t forget to check on your peppers and turn them as needed. I have forgotten and ended up with some very blackened peppers.

chopped peppers and onions

Dice up the garlic, onions, and bell peppers.

diced peppers and onions

Dice up the cored tomatoes, and combine all the ingredients.

diced tomatoes

Next take the peppers off the grill or out from under broiler once they are done.

roasted hatch chili peppers

Here comes the fun part, removing the outer skin. I have found laying the peppers on a cutting board and using a knife and fork is the easiest way to peel the skins off. I use the dull side of the knife to hold the top of the pepper and then use the tines on the fork to gently remove the charred peeling.

roasted hatch chili peppers

At this point you can also remove or keep the seeds to modify how hot your salsa will turn out.

roasted hatch chili peppers

I kept about half of the seeds for this batch.

hatch chili pepper salsa hatch chili pepper salsa

Once the peppers are all ready dice them up and add them with the rest of your ingredients in a large pot. Bring the salsa to a full boil and simmer for about 10 minutes until slightly thickened. At that point it’s ready to go into the jars if you want to can it.

empty jars

Ladle the salsa into each jar with 1/2 inch head space. This will allow enough room for the salsa to vent during the canning process.

canning hatch chili pepper salsa

Make sure to wipe the rims if any salsa splashes on to the jars.

canning hatch chili pepper salsa

Place the jars into a water bath canner for 15 minutes at a full boil for half pint jars. Adjust for altitude if needed.

canning hatch chili pepper salsa

Once 15 minutes have passed turn the heat off and remove the lid. Wait 5 minutes and remove the jars from the water bath canner.

roasted hatch chili pepper salsa

Now yummy delicious hatch chili pepper salsa all year long! This salsa works great with chips, tacos, nachos, or even as a topping on burgers.

Canning Green Beans

When your parents end up with far more green beans then they expected what do you do? Why pressure can them of course. This year’s harvest has been quite abundant and so it has resulted in large amounts of green beans almost every week since they came in. Since green beans are a low acid vegetable they have to be pressure canned. So out comes the good old Presto Pressure Canner.

Now I use a 23 quart pressure canner with an extra canning rack to allow for double stacking. In fact I had so many green beans I completely filled the pressure canner. Double stacking pints means 19 pints and 6 quarts of green beans!

So here is what you’ll need if you want to pressure can your own green beans

A Pressure Canner

Canning Jars – make sure to only use jars designed for canning, that spaghetti sauce jar will not work, and will most likely break

Canning Equipment – I like to use the funnel and a measuring stick

Canning/Pickling Salt

Pots and pans

Lots and lots of green beans

A good canning recipe. I like to use the Green Beans recipe found in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. All the canning recipes in that book have been tested as being safe to use as long as the directions are followed.


 

First up you want to read the manual for your pressure canner. Each pressure canner model can be different.

green beans in a bowl

Next sort through your green beans. You’ll want to snap them into a size that you like to eat and that will fit into the jars. Make sure to discard any discolored/rusted or diseased looking green beans. Only the best for you. Give them one final rinse and they’re ready to go.

rinsed green beans

After sorting the green beans add them to a large pot with water. Make sure you include enough water for your jars as well. The water in the pot is what fills the jars with the green beans.

green beans in a pot

Turn the stove on and let the beans come up to a boil. The goal here is to have them boil for about five minutes and then pack them into the jars.

Wait, you haven’t got your jars ready yet? Better do that quick while the water and beans are heating up. Whew, there done just in time.

washed canning jars

canning tools

I like to use a canning funnel, a canning measuring stick, and ladles.

Canning Tip: I like to lay a dish towel out on the counter to put my jars and tools on. It’s very helpful when whatever you canning can stain as well. Nothing like scrubbing up blackberry juice from the counter.

Now that the green beans have boiled at least five minutes it’s time to put them in the jars. If you are adding salt to your green beans put 1/2 tsp per pint or 1 tsp per quart. Leave a one inch head space to allow for expansion. If you are using Tattler Lids only tighten the metal band finger tight.

green beans in jars     green beans in jars in pressure canner     pressure canning gauge

Time to load up the pressure canner. Make sure enough water has been added to the pressure canner for the model you’re using. In the case of my pressure canner that’s three quarts.

Canning Tip: Add a tablespoon or so of vinegar to your water when canning. Aluminum pots can react to certain foods and discolor. Also, the vinegar helps prevent mineral build up on the jars and lids.

 

presto pressure canner

Once the pressure canner is loaded and the lid is on bring the temperature up and start the venting process. Air needs to be vented from the canner to allow room for the steam. Vent for at least 10 minutes. Again, check the manual for your pressure canner as the process may be different.

After the canner has vented it’s time to bring the pressure up. With my model I place a weight on the venting tube to allow pressure to increase. At sea level you want to bring the pressure up to at 10lbs. For higher elevations consult your manual to adjust for the pressure difference.

At full pressure start the timer. For pints 20 minutes and for quarts 25 minutes.

Now that the timer has beeped, you did set a timer right? It’s time to allow the pressure canner to cool. Opening the canner at this point would be very dangerous, and in fact, depending on the design, may be impossible if it has a pressure lock. Let the canner cool and once cooled pop the lid open.

Canning Tip: I use a pair of silicon gloves to open the canner since they are water proof and won’t get soaked by the steam. Also, open the lid away from you to allow steam to vent safely in the opposite direction.

Use a jar lifter and lift the jars out one at a time. Place each jar on a kitchen towel to allow it to cool. If tattler lids are being used remember to tighten the metal bands fully on each jar to ensure a proper seal.

canned green beans

Now you have home canned green beans that are far tastier then the cans of green beans from the store. Remember to save at least some for that green bean casserole at Thanksgiving!

– Jason Snell

Homemade Fruit Vinegar

Ever look at the selection of vinegars in the store and found them a bit… lacking?

Well now you can do something about it. Surprisingly, homemade vinegar is very easy to make, and delicious too!

I started off following the directions from this site rural-revolution.com to make my own homemade vinegar. The main thing I was looking for was the ratio of sugar to water and the timing of how long to let the vinegar sit before it was ready.

So what do you need to make your very own vinegar?

Empty glass jars

Rubber bands

Thin cloth

Water

Sugar

Fruit scraps or whole fruit


To start this whole process off you’ll want to make sure your jars are sanitized. The entire process for making vinegar works off of beneficial bacteria. You want to make sure the jars are thoroughly cleaned before using them. This includes making sure all soap or other cleaners, such as bleach, are fully washed out.

Next I used quart canning jars. There were two reasons I used canning jars. One, we have lots of them and they’re a convenient size. Two, glass is non-reactive. Going into a little science here, you’re going to take a sugar, convert it to alcohol, and then into a vinegar. This means metals such as aluminum will have negative reactions to the acid being produced.

empty quart jar

For each quart jar use 1/4 cup of sugar. If you’re using a gallon sized container just scale it up to 1 cup per gallon of water.

Next add in your fruit scraps. I made two kinds of vinegar from leftover fruit scraps. Pineapple vinegar, and pomegranate vinegar. Make sure none of the fruit you’re using has been eaten on, or you will be introducing bad bacteria to your batch.

Cover the container with a thin cloth and secure with a rubber band or other restraint. The cloth allows the vinegar solution to vent as the bacteria go to work converting all the sugars into alcohol. This also draws out flavor from the fruit. This process can take a couple weeks to several weeks. Just sit the container in a cool dry area and let it be.

Once the fermentation process has completed, after letting it sit for a few weeks, open your container and drain out the fruit, keeping the liquid.

Congratulations, you’ve now made alcohol, but I wouldn’t drink it. You’ve passed the sugar water solution, and made it to the alcohol stage, next up vinegar. Yep, those busy little bacteria aren’t done yet. Place your liquid back into your jars and cover with the cloth again.

pomengrante vinegar

Now let the solution sit for a few weeks up to a few months. This allows the acidification to occur and will produce a nice tangy vinegar.

Preservation Tip: You’ll notice a kind of gel like scum floating in your vinegar solution. This is referred to as the “mother”, and is actually what is helping your fruit water convert into vinegar. Leave it in there and don’t worry about it. Nature will take its course.

So now you’ve waited and waited and are finally ready to open up you jars and see what’s inside. Would you look at that, your very own homemade vinegar. Lets see what it looks like.

pomengrante vinegar pineaple vinegar

As you can see above, the pomegranate vinegar turned a nice purple as it processed. The pineapple vinegar actually has a slight yellow tint to it.


At this point you could place your vinegar into the fridge and start using it for all kinds of things. A nice marinade for some steak, or for making a homemade vinaigrette dressing. If you want to make it last a bit longer you can also can it.

Preservation Tip: Now homemade vinegar is untested and may not be very acidic. While the vinegar in the store is tested to ensure it’s strong enough to can. If you can this you do so at your own risk. Alternatively you can also test the pH of the vinegar to determine if it’s acidic enough to can. If unsure and you still want to can your vinegar, consider pressure canning it as you would for any low acid item.

I tested my vinegar and it came well within the safe limits for water bath canning.

preparing to can vinegar

I strained my vinegar to remove the mother, or gel like substance, and heated it to a boil.

boiling vinegar

After that I placed it into the water bath canner for 20 minutes. I live at a slightly higher altitude close to 3,000 ft. If you are higher than that you will want to adjust the canning time.

 

canning vinegar

When it was completed you can see how it turned out.

pineaple vinegar

I used Tattler Lids to reduce the amount of metal contact the vinegar would have.

There you have it. Homemade vinegar with only a few steps, and several weeks of waiting. You can make vinegar out of any fruit, so try it with apples, peaches, pears, grapes, or even something exotic like dragonfruit. The sky is the limit and you’ll have learned a fun new skill.