Category Archives: Farmgirl Kitchen

Tie on your apron, time to get to work!

Salsa for Home Canning

8 cups tomatoes (chopped roughly – I do not peel my organic tomatoes)
2 cups onions, minced (we prefer the sweet onions)
1 1/2 cups green bell peppers, de-seeded and chopped
1 cup jalapeno peppers, chopped (de-seed if you prefer less heat… and wear gloves!)
10 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/8 cup canning salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 12-oz jar or can of tomato paste

* Mix all ingredients together in large stock pot; bring to slow boil for 10 minutes.
* Ladle into hot canning jars; seal and process in hot water bath for 15 minutes (at 3000′ elevation).

I’ll be honest… salsa is one of those things that lend themselves very well to the “fast and loose” approach I have to recipes, even canning recipes. As long as you maintain the ratio of tomatoes (acidic) and apple cider vinegar (to tweak the acid level even higher for food safety) to vegetables by about 3 to 1, your food should be safe. For example, have other types of peppers than just jalapeno? Red bells instead of green bells? Like lots of garlic? Hate cilantro? Make those changes and keep the ratio.

I mentioned that I don’t peel my organic tomatoes; if your tomatoes are not organic, or you prefer them peeled, by all means peel away! Dip them in boiling water for 30-60 seconds, scoop out with a big slotted spoon and dip in ice water. The skins should slip off fairly easily.

And never, please, NEVER chop up peppers without rubber gloves!! My first experience with my beautiful canned jalapeno peppers back in 1997 later involved wrapping my fire-filled fingers with wet cloth, taking Tylenol, and struggling through the night trying to sleep. 🙂 There is a very good reason why the best, strongest deep-muscle pain relief creams involve capsicum, the active ingredient in peppers… it’s strong stuff, and your skin and anywhere you accidentally scratch will rue the day!


Canning Trout

This gallery contains 15 photos.

  My kids *LOVE* to fish, especially my boy. He’ll wake up talking about it after dreaming about it at night. Can spend hours drooling down the fishing aisles at local sporting goods stores. Tells stories about it (he won … Continue reading

Incredible Ranch Dressing

Can’t do storebought ranch dressing. Just can’t do it. Soybean oil is bad enough, let alone the host of other ingredients (many of which are unpronounceable). I’ve tried several recipes for ranch dressing, but never knocked one out of the park like this one did! The unfortunate thing is that I have no remembrance of where I originally saw it online… so I can’t give credit where it is due! 😦 But I have to share it, it’s JUST THAT GOOD.

Incredible Ranch Dressing

3/4 cup mayo (we like Real or Hellmann’s brand – you can make your own if you’re awesome like that)
1/2 cup milk kefir
1 tbs minced parsley (fresh or dried)
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder (or fresh cloves, minced)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt (we use RealSalt, never the bleached stuff)
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
Optional: 1/4 tsp dill, minced

Combine in a cool jar and shake like the dickens. It’s better after it’s had a chance to rest awhile, and lasts for about 2 weeks unless your children decide to let their supper swim in it and eat the entire jar in one sitting. Or you have a really huge, fresh, crunchy salad for supper. 🙂

Pressure Canning Organic Dry Beans

To start off I have to admit that I didn’t come up with this nifty idea… just found it elsewhere online. But wanted to share… it’s fantastic!
I have previously been frustrated with my efforts to pressure can dry beans. Whether pinto or turtle, garbanzos or Great Northerns, the silly things always come out terribly messy and mooshy. The currently accepted method of home canning beans involves pre-soaking and then cooking for 30 minutes before loading into hot jars. By the time you finish the suggested 90 minute processing time, your beans are pre-fried. 🙂 Yuk. Not that I don’t enjoy refried beans as well as anyone who ever lived in Texas, but, I want my chickpeas/garbanzos to LOOK like chickpeas/garbanzos. I want a Great Northern to have a shape, a navy bean to salute, a black-eyed pea to wink at me. Well, you know what I mean.
Enter the PREVIOUSLY accepted method of home canning beans.

Ready for the canner

Ready for the canner

Yes, those beans are dry, uncooked, unsoaked… or they were, before they were loaded 1/2 cup at a time into clean pint jars (warm from a recent scrubbing bath, but not boiling hot), had seasonings added (in this case, the green-tinted jars had 1/2 tsp summer savory added), then boiling water poured over them. Seal them with your warm lids and rings, load them up in the canner.
Placed in pre-heated pressure canner

Placed in pre-heated pressure canner

Process according to pressure cooker directions (full steam vent for 10 minutes, apply weight – in my case, 15# due to elevation here in Montana, then begin timing) for 90 minutes for pint jars. I haven’t tried this with quart jars yet, as I expect that the more densely-packed beans may take longer to absorb liquid. Let the canner cool down on it’s own and release pressure before removing lid.

I just can’t bring myself to pay over $3/can for organic beans… but I use beans ALOT. And I like to cook what inspires me, so pre-planning and going through the process of cooking a pot of beans in the morning (having soaked overnight, or done the 2-hour quick soak method) doesn’t always work for me. I like to have beans to make a quick soup (or to bean-up the soup I’ve already made, or stretch leftovers), to top a salad, to provide a fast side dish… beans are inexpensive (if you’re not buying them already canned) and great for us. So spending an afternoon running the canner saves me time and money later.
From start (with equipment, beans, clean jars all assembled) to finish (pulling the bubbling jars from the cooled-down canner) takes me about 3 hours and 30 minutes. Since I have two canners (I’m rich! I’m rich!!) I can get 18 pint jars of beans in the same length of time! But even with a single canner, 9 pints is an excellent return on the investment of your time, since you can easily do other things while the canner is roaring away on the stove. It’s a great way to spend a wintery day… do try to keep outside doors opening and closing to a minimum, as you want to maintain a steady temperature in the kitchen to prevent pressure changes within the canner… these can result in liquid boiling out of the jars during canning.

Now that's a bean!

Now that’s a bean!

Pressure Canning Dry Beans

1/2 cup dry beans (of any type)
1/2 tsp sea salt or other canning-type salt
seasonings as desired (garlic, savory, black pepper, etc)

1 – Add ingredients to warm pint jars.
2 – Cover with boiling water or broth to 1″ from rim. Be careful to be no more or less than this for best results!
3 – Process for 90 minutes at pressure recommended for your elevation (10# for sea level, 15# above 3,000).

Remember when you reheat your beans to eat them that they love a little fat for best digestibility – a nice glug of olive oil, for example! Bon Appetit!

Homemade Pizza Sauce

16 cups tomatoes, diced
1-2 sweet onions, minced
4 tbs garlic, minced
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp fennel seed
1 tbs sugar
2 tbs parsley, minced (can substitute kale)
1 tbs oregano
2 tbs basil
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp celery seeds
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp summer savory

1 – Puree tomatoes in food processor.
2 – Add all ingredients to crockpot, stir well to combine.
3 – Cook on low with crockpot lid ajar (to allow steam to escape) for up to 24 hours! Liquid will reduce by half.
4 – Ladle into hot pint (or half-pint jars), add hot lids and rings, process for 30 minutes (at 3500′ elevation) in boiling water bath.

Stretching the Pesto

This is a yummy, nutritious way to stretch your basil into a great pesto!

2 cups kale leaves, stems removed, roughly chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Briefly steam kale in steamer basket (about 30 seconds), then dunk into ice water to stop cooking. Drain.

Add kale, basil, walnuts and garlic to food processor. Process about one minute. Slowly add olive oil until pesto is smooth.

Stir in parmesan cheese.

Serve over pasta, or freeze in flat quart-sized Ziploc bags (as a thin slab of pesto).

Plain Canned Tomatoes

I make a bunch of jars of these tomatoes each year; I use at least 1 pint per week and sometimes several more. Tasty, easy, fast!

4 cups tomatoes per quart jar
2 tablespoons lemon juice (per quart jar)
1 teaspoon sea salt (I use RealSalt – per quart jar)

I do not peel my tomatoes, primarily because I can my own organically-grown fruit. If you’re using non-organic tomatoes, they should be dipped in boiling water for 60 seconds then into ice water, to peel.

Core tomatoes if necessary; quarter then dice roughly.

Heat diced tomatoes in juice in a large stock pot, stirring frequently. Boil gently for 5 minutes.

Fill hot, sterile quart jars with hot tomatoes, leaving a 1-inch headspace.

Add lemon juice and salt to each jar. Top with hot lids and rings. Process in boiling water canner for 60 minutes (at 3500′ elevation – 50 minutes for lower elevations, adjust for higher).

To use this recipe to make pint jars, use 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt per pint jar, process for 45 minutes.