Thursday, July 26, 2012

Pear Relish Recipe

This recipe is from an old church cook book. It is not a new recipe. If this bothers or concerns you, please feel free to choose another recipe. I have made this recipe 2 years in a row. It is my mother-in-law's favorite thing and she is very good to us. It is the least I can do.

I like to eat it over beans, and peas. Served over rice, it reminds me of a Thai sweet and sour sauce that I have eaten at local Thai restaurants.


4 quarts pears--peeled, cored, chopped
2 1/2 green peppers (or 2 large) (Take out the seeds and white veins inside the peppers and rough chop.)
2 1/2 red peppers (Take out the seeds and white veins inside the peppers and rough chop.)
2 to 3 hot peppers (with seeds makes it hotter. without makes it milder)
2 1/2 large onions (rough chopped)
2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Grind pears through food processor.

Grind all peppers, and onions through the food processor.

You are looking for a very fine chop on all the vegetables.

Put all ingredients together into a non reactive pot and boil 20 minutes.

Fill pint jars. Leave 1/2 inch headspace.

Process in water bath canner 10 minutes.

Makes 5 pints. (Most of the time. One time, it made 7 for me. I don't know what I did differently.) 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Update to the Canned Salsa Taste Test

The original post on this topic can be found here.

My husband and I decided that the only way to definitively decide which was our favorite salsa was to do a side-by-side taste test for comparison. Individually, we liked each one.

I made the family quesadillas, using my normal recipe. We divided our quesadillas into four triangles and tried one salsa on each triangle, saving the last triangle for our favorite.

The results were surprising. Both of us were in unison about our choices. We liked number one the best. This is the one I had said was soupy, and not very eye-appealing. But, oh, the flavor! Wow! It is definitely the one I will use to make the last of my tomatoes into salsa.

Our second choice was number three. It is the spiciest, and the simplest to make. It was second best tasting.

In a side-by-side comparison, number two was our decidedly least favorite. I hasten to say that we like it when we don't have the others to compare with it, but with the others there, I almost don't like it at all.

As I said, the results surprised us.

Since number one recipe is something I obtained from our local county cooperative extension, I will post a recipe when I have time. (I know that I owe y'all a recipe for pear relish, too.)

Note: Those jars of salsa were not full when we started. They were the little bits left over after canning the others. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Taste Test Canned Salsa Recipes

Salsas: From Left to Right call them #1, #2, and #3
I started canning last year and thoroughly enjoy it, so I decided to buy 25 pounds of tomatoes and try three different recipes for salsa. 
I looked around online for recipes I liked, and used one I had in my recipe file. The salsa on the far left in the picture was from a recipe the local Mobile County Extension (Alabama). When I called them, they were very nice and sent out an entire package of recipes on every type of canning you could imagine.

The second recipe was's Zesty Salsa For Canning.

The third recipe was Byron's Salsa, found on this link.

The results were entirely unexpected. I liked every single one of them enough to make them again. They are, however, very different in taste, texture and amount of salsa made according to the recipe.

The Breakdown
Salsa #1 : The recipe had quite a few ingredients, including oregano, which was kind of exciting to me, since I have a good bit of oregano in the garden. It also included cumin, which is a flavor I love. This recipe called for white vinegar. Of the three recipes I tried, this was the only one to call for white vinegar. It had specific times to cook the mixture (20 minutes, after it comes to a boil). 

At the end of the recommended time, the salsa was really loose and runny. I was following directions as much as possible, so I took it out and ladled it into the canning jars. I canned it for the recommended 20 minutes, ending up with 6 full jars and one that was only partially filled. I was really disappointed with the way this salsa looked. I put the jar that I wasn't able to can into the refrigerator. When I tasted it after it cooled, I was amazed. The taste was really good, and right on the money for heat--along the lines of medium salsa you can buy from the store. 

Salsa #2 : This recipe has 65 reviews on and has 5 stars. It also had a pretty long ingredient list. The list included cider vinegar rather than the white vinegar required in the previous recipe. Interestingly, this recipe requires one to add a can of tomato paste right at the end to thicken it up. I lowered the amount of hot peppers to 5 large jalapenos. 

When I canned this recipe, I had enough for 8 jars of salsa, though the site said I would only end up with 6. I was happy with how much salsa I was able to get from this effort. It has a beautiful look--just what I expect when I open a can of salsa. The flavor was very good. I really liked it, too. 

Note: This recipe forgets to tell you to peel the tomatoes before canning. And I found a tip on another site that suggested cutting up your tomatoes one night, placing them into a colander over a bowl or pan, salting, and placing this entire thing into the fridge overnight. This way the tomatoes can drain into the pan and cooking times are greatly shortened. This also helps keep the salsa fresh tasting, as opposed to the taste of something that has been cooked to death. 

Salsa #3 : This recipe has a wonderful short ingredient list, just tomatoes, onion, jalapeno peppers, salt and cider vinegar. I added garlic and cilantro to the recipe, since I can't imagine salsa without cilantro. I used 4 large jalapenos, since I had 8 cups of tomatoes, and it is spicier than the other two recipes. It made the family's eyes water while it was cooking. This was my husband's choice for lunch today. The flavor is really nice, if slightly on the spicy side. It made 4 cans with a little left over. 

It cooked quickly and worked really well. The taste was amazing. 

So now what do I do? I like all of these recipes. I can see that I would make salsa #3 if I were in somewhat of a hurry or if I didn't want to use anything other than the most basic ingredients. I would make salsa #2 for a good all-around salsa. And salsa #1 would be great as a marinade or served over grits or rice. I was hoping to get one great recipe that stood out from all the rest. What I discovered was that there are many great recipes out there, and all of them taste better than those I have purchased from the store.

You can see my update, where my husband and I did a side-by-side comparison here. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mississippi Cream Peas

Mississippi Cream Peas before shelling

Mississippi Cream peas after shelling (with flash) 

Mississippi Cream peas after shelling (no flash) 

Cooked Mississippi cream peas with mashed potatoes and
a side salad of tomatoes and cucumbers

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Canning Pear Relish

This has never happened to me before. I ended up with almost 2
pint jars of relish left over. I didn't plan for that much, so I couldn't can it.
I had to refrigerate it, and now I will have to eat it up pretty quick. 

Boiling, Boiling
The five pints I was able to process in a water bath canner. 

A close up on the finished pear relish.
Pear relish is an unusual thing made with red peppers, green peppers, jalapenos, onions and pears in apple cider vinegar. (That's not the recipe. I am sure I left a few things out.)

It tastes pretty spicy and savory. There is not much sweet taste to it.

As far as I know, it is mainly eaten over "peas and butterbeans." I have also tried it on white rice and like it very much. On white rice, the taste resembles sweet and sour Thai sauce that I have had in a local Thai restaurant.

In the past, my recipe has always made 5 pint jars. Today, I could have canned 7 pint jars, but I only had 5 sterilized and only had 5 canning lids ready. Any canners out there have suggestions about this for me for next time? 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What Has Grown in My Life Since I Started Gardening--You Can Grow That

I have been thinking this month about all the things that have grown in my life since I started gardening two years ago.

    I knew I would buy less green beans, since I grow green beans. What I didn't know was that I would buy less hamburger meat.
      I knew I would buy less canned green beans. I didn't know I wouldn't buy any frozen vegetables. Or cook any of the frozen vegetables I already had on hand. Instead, I would be trying to eat up the vegetables that came from the garden.
      I didn't know that I would have to buy salad fixings in order to face yet another salad.
      I didn't know that I would end up eating way more than "5 a day" just to keep up with the garden.
      I didn't know I would coerce my family to eat vegetables "just so we can use it up. I have so many_____."
      I didn't know that people would give me their garden excess, thinking that if I garden, I would actually eat it.

    A bushel of pink eye purple hull peas brought to my door last week. 
      I didn't know that some of the things planted on a whim would give the most joy. 

    Mississippi Cream Peas make me smile every time I go to the
      I didn't know if my kids would actually eat more vegetables if we had a garden. But they do!
      I was surprised to find out that my husband will eat more vegetables, too, if they are here in the house straight from the garden. 

    • The whole family has gained better health because of the increased amount of vegetables. 

    • I have gained better health because of the vegetables and the exercise.

    • My children and I have learned a great deal about nature. It is a fascinating science experiment to watch corn grow and discuss the parts of the corn plant, watch bees almost make themselves sick buzzing all over the pollen on the corn, try to fight aphids and much more. 
    • Nature observation has also come in other forms. I am fond of watching hummingbirds flit in and out of my flowers, just in front of the house. 
    Hummingbird on my gladiolus

    You can find out about the 4 Words on the Fourth: You Can Grow That program by clicking on the link.

    So what has grown in your life since you began gardening? 
(Forgive the formatting. Blogger is giving me trouble.)