...if you have a backyard and a kitchen, this blog might be for you!

a chronicle of tips and recipes on everything from gardening to canning and baking your produce, even if you're planted in suburbia...in fact, especially if you are planted in suburbia.

Friday, August 5, 2011

What's It Worth to You?

Who isn't familiar with the idea "if you can't do 100% then don't even try..."

Well, You need to forget that saying--or at least modify the definition of 100%--when it comes to backyard urban gardening. True, yesterday I was swept away with visions of permaculture: its sprawling urban forests, replete with fruits and nuts, mushrooms and goats, and of course chickens everywhere! But my reality is that my HOA does not permit small farm animals, in fact, I just might be pushing the limits by having a modest little compost heap in the corner of myback fencing. Does that mean I abandon all endeavors at self-sustaining urban farming? My answer would be "Absolutely not!"

Even a modest little plot like mine can offer what I'd call enhancements--both to taste and nutrition. Ingenuity and creativity make it possible to bridge those gaps between the kitchen whose pantry is filled with nothing but what's processed and packaged and the one whose pantry holds an active butter churn, meat grinder and pressure cooker. Case in point: the salsa ingredients shown above. So what if your garden doesn't produce enough fresh tomatoes to make a full batch of salsa, take what you do have garden-fresh and supplement with diced canned tomatoes. So what if you don't have time or space to have fresh-from-the-garden herbs on hand for that salsa, mixes--both for salsa and pickles--offer a pleasing blend of flavors, and a quick and easy prep time with only vinegar needed to complete your ingredients list.

Can you still taste that homemade, fresh-tomato difference? My family says yes.

Hint about canning tomato recipes other than salsa though--many experts recommend you add a teaspoon of lemon juice to each jar if your recipe doesn't involve vinegar. Tomatoes overall have been bred to be less acidic than they were years ago when your grandmother canned them, making spoilage an issue. This step isn't necessary, however, if you are making freezer sauces. Also, you'll need to allow extra time with the waterbath canner. Tomato recipes generally require twice as much time in the canner as many pickle recipes do.

Happy supplementing!


  1. Do you have a good salsa recipe that isnt sweet...My sister makes canned salsa, but hers is kinda sweet for me ...i would rather have spicy

  2. Sure! Here's one for jalapeno salsa: combine 3 C chopped, seeded, peeled, cored tomatoes, 3 C chopped jalapeno peppers, 1 C chopped onion, 6 cloves minced garlic, 2 tbsp minced cilantro, 2 tsp oregano, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 C cider vinegar all in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 10 min. Ladel into hot jars leaving 1/4 in. headspace. Process 15 min. in boiling water canner. If you're not a canner, I have good luck freezing my salsa (that's what I did here.) And if you want to change it up, you can seed the jalapenos first (less hot) and/or add a few hot chili peppers, exchange the onions for red onions and the cider vinegar for red wine vinegar. Still processes for 15 minutes, or freezes. Hope that helps! Personally, I haven't made either of these, but now that I look at it, I think I might try it. Sounds good!

  3. thanks for the nice recipe...Your a nice garden gnome

  4. so are you! You should check out my last post...I personified my compost heap because your blog inspired me that direction!