Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Start of Tomatoes - Salsa

During last week's canning madness, tomatoes went on super sale at one of the local markets. I could not resist; they were Romas. I went into full tomato canning mode. I decided it was time to make salsa. Now some of you may be scratching your heads looking at this ingredients picture as there are no tomatoes in this one. Well that is because I also wanted to try my hand at peach salsa this year as well. I cut up all the ingredients that both salsas shared in the morning and then cooked them up that afternoon. I made one critical error however.

After cutting up all the peppers, onion, and garlic, I peeled the peaches and started to notice my hands were tingling a bit. I decided to ignore this and start cooking up the peach salsa. My hands seemed to be on fire, but I just thought it was the overly hot day and the hot items on the stove. I gave it no thought as I stirred away and then put the very pretty peach salsa in the jars. I loved the way the colors all complimented each other in this salsa. It looked pretty and while I did not taste test it, the salsa also looked mighty tasty.

The burning started to get worse as I was working on cleaning up from this batch of salsa to prepare for the other one. By this time two hours had passed from the cutting of ingredients to now, and as I washed off the pots and canning equipment, the burning got worse. It was then that I realized the error of my ways. I had cut all the jalapeno peppers with no gloves on... all six of them. Now it is a big joke around the house and family as to my whimpiness when it comes to spicy food, but at this point I was in full on pain. I was having an allergic reaction to the capsaicin in the peppers.

Now some of you may be wondering why this did not happen last year, and I was doing this too as I was trying to wash off my hands as well as I could. Then it dawned on me that my wonderful husband had cut them last year and had a similar, all be it less crazy, reaction to the capsaicin. After much soap and water, nothing was improving. I turned my attention to milk. I rinsed and soaked my hands in milk. All seemed to be fine. We left to go out to the Eat Real fest for lunch.

Once in the fest, I thought all was okay. I figured that at this point the burning was just part of my mind thinking it was still burning. I hoped that the distractions of the food and festivities would make it all go away as it was just in my mind after all. Wrong! Dead wrong. The burning came back with a vengeance. My hands started to swell and turn purple. It was time for some serious intervention. We returned home quickly and moved up in butter fat, from skim milk to half and half!

After repeated dunks into the half and half interspersed with alcohol scrubbing, my hands finally were free of the burn. It was a six hour odyssey of skin numbing pain, but it was finally over. I vowed to only use the food processor or rubber gloves from here on out when touching any spicy peppers. It was then time to cook up the tomato salsa. I slipped the skins off the tomatoes using boiling water and then an ice bath. Boy did that ice bath feel good. It helped with the residual swelling that my hands were still experiencing.

From there it was just dicing of the peeled tomatoes and then adding in all the already prepped vegetables into the pot for their cook and then filling up the jars and water bath time. I was happy to see this project end. I ended up with some left over in the pot for this batch, so I let it cool in the fridge. The taste test of the left overs made me very happy and made Dan ask why I did not make more. This salsa was much improved over last year's salsa debacle. I cannot wait to pop open a jar of the peach to see how that one tastes. I need to remember to save some from now on to taste later. I guess my zeal to stop the burning of my hands and to finish off two canning projects in one day just took over. The pantry is starting to fill up to capacity, but there are more projects to show off and still finish. Check back tomorrow for tomatoes day two!

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