The “Recipe”~G. Totten, Sioux Falls

Following is the recipe mentioned early on this season for the tomato and pepper canned mixture I have grown so fond of.  My daughter and I came up with this combination some years back, and I’ve used it for everything from salsa (just give it a quick spin in the blender or food processor, then return it to the jar and refrigerate) to a chunky dressing for baked chicken or grilled seafood.  It makes a good pasta sauce addition and is also great in chili and chicken gumbo.  I’ve combined it with macaroni and cheese (drain excess juice first, and this can be frozen and reused, as it is very flavorful) and topped it with buttered bread crumbs for pot luck suppers.  I have also thrown a jar into jambalaya and Spanish rice.  It just has a good flavor that adds depth and compliments a lot of foods. 

*Note:  I often do this in small batches as the tomatoes ripen, perhaps using a dozen or so at a time, and this usually equates to 4-6 pints per effort, but as it is an easy operation, that doesn’t bother me.  If you have a real glut of big juicy tomatoes, get out the quart jars!  The ratio of peppers, and onion to tomato is roughly 2/3 tomato to 1/3 onion and peppers combined.  Garlic is simply to taste, probably two full heads per the pan or tray holding these proportions.  A little more or less won’t make any difference.  

The Recipe 

Freshly picked, cored tomatoes, washed and cut into chunks (no need to remove skins or seeds)

Freshly picked peppers, Anaheim (my personal choice), Jalapeno or bells, whatever pepper you prefer, or a mixture of them, washed, seeded and cut into larger pieces

Fresh, mild onions, like Vidalia or Spanish yellows, peeled and cut into medium-sized pieces

Fresh garlic, peeled and left in whole cloves

Small amount of oil to coat, either olive or a good quality vegetable oil

A generous teaspoon of kosher salt and some freshly ground coarse pepper to taste

Fresh or dried herbs, as you prefer.  I use fresh oregano. 

Combine all on an un-greased cookie sheet and mix with clean hands.  Roast at 425 degrees until the peppers and onions begin to brown at the tips.  The time will vary depending on the size of your vegetables, so just keep an eye on them.    

Ladle the hot mixture into hot, sterilized canning jars, pushing down a bit to release some of the tomato juice.  Fill to ½ inch of top (if you don’t have enough juice from the tomatoes, I have added commercially canned tomato juice to supplement, or distilled water would probably work, as well), then remove any air bubbles by running a plastic (or other non reactive) knife down the insides of each jar.  Wipe jar tops with a clean paper towel moistened in hot water, then hand-tighten sterilized lids and screw bands and process in a pressure canner at 10 lbs for 20 minutes (pints) and 40 minutes (quarts).  

Please note that this is one of those items I mentioned in an earlier entry here that I used to can using the hot water bath method.  I learned from the extension educator that because the peppers, garlic and onion are all low acid vegetables, it really is not a safe method.  So, please–get a pressure canner!  In this writer’s opinion, it is well worth the investment. 

As the dismal year of my near garden continues, even my tomatoes have been uncooperative, only ripening a few at a time, and the few not eaten right away are being tossed into the freezer whole.  The few peppers I got from the two potted plants were also frozen and supplemented with some I bought at the Market; I even froze the garlic purchased there.  Although I won’t have my lovely jars ready to pop open as in past years, my plan going forward will be to simply roast the peppers, onion and garlic as needed and combine them with the thawed freezer tomatoes.  It will be the first time for this procedure.  I hope you have lots of tomatoes to use and enjoy this versatile mix.