This summer is winding down and it proved to be another banner year for many summer vegetable crops. When I talk with other gardeners, they are in the midst of harvesting and enjoying every minute of it. Some gardeners tell me they are on their third picking of beans, and it is can be difficult to keep the zucchini picked fast enough before it gets too big. Tomatoes are loving this season. I always tell people to plant an assortment of tomato varieties to assure success as if we have a cool summer and fall, the late maturing types might not ripen. There has been no need to be concerned about late maturing tomatoes ripening this year!
I am already having neighbors telling me to come and pick tomatoes as they have more than they need. A few tomato plants can often supply a family with all the fresh tomatoes they need and many times tomatoes seem to all ripen at about the same time and they cannot be eaten fresh fast enough. Although there is no such thing as too many tomatoes! In my neighborhood, neighbors share and at this time of year, I do not think that very many of us are buying tomatoes from the store.
There is hardly a tomato recipe that I do not like, but I must admit that salsa is a favorite. I could also say that there is hardly a salsa that I do not like but there is something special about the taste of homemade salsa that is hard to beat. My wife often makes what we call “traditional” salsa and below is her recipe.
Salsa – Makes 18 pints
20 cups chopped and peeled tomatoes, about 12 lbs
3 cups long green chilies, (such as Anaheim), seeded and chopped
1 cup chopped and seeded jalapeno chilies, (optional, depending if you want it hot)
8 cups chopped onions
10 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 Tablespoons salt
1 cup lemon juice
Wash pint jars and keep hot until needed. Prepare lids and rings as per manufacturer directions. Combine tomatoes, chili’s, onions, garlic, cilantro, lemon juice and salt in large saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle hot salsa into one hot jar at a time, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe jar rim with clean damp cloth, attach lid and ring. Fill and close remaining jars. Process in boiling water canner for 15 minutes.
This is just one recipe, of which there are probably hundreds for making salsa. I see many gardeners also growing tomatillos which are a tomato relative and used for making salsa verde. Personally, I am a big fan of salsa verde as well as tomato salsa.
If you don’t want to do the traditional canning method, you can also rely on Mrs. Wages mixes to help you along in the spice and preparation categories. Wilco carries a great selection of these proven mixes.
If you have excess tomatoes or any other vegetable, keep in mind that not everyone has enough to eat and local food banks are an excellent way to share your harvest. Churches will also often accept food items and perhaps there is someone in your neighborhood that would welcome home delivery of fresh produce.