Home Canning 101 | Boise Food Photographer

Those tomatoes I planted by seed, way back in March, are suddenly ripening.  Although my intention all along was to plant a lot of starts so I could can tomatoes,  I still found myself a bit surprised when I found I needed to start canning so soon.  Thankfully I had a weekend off from weddings and found the gumption to not only to can a batch of tomato salsa but also a batch of tomatillo salsa.


Tomato salsa and Tomatillo Salsa (salsa verde)
This is not my first experience with canning and when talking to friends I’ve discovered that many people, (especially my age) don’t know how to can their own food.  I grew up watching my grandmother and mother can all sorts of foods…. but of course, I never paid attention.  In 2003, my husband and I planted our first garden.  That garden was the largest we have ever had and we had vegetables coming out our ears.  I had to learn how to can and quick.  Thankfully the internet is a wealth of information.
Canning food is actually very easy.  It is a bit time consuming, but most good things are.  The absolute basics of home canning do not change from recipe to recipe.  Wash, sanitize and process with proper acid levels.  As long as you follow these basic rules you’ll have safe, preservative free foods to eat all year long.
There are many websites full of canning information and recipes.  Here is just one place to go for more information.


Canned Tomato Salsa Basics
All great recipes start with fresh ingredients. My recipe for salsa includes tomatoes, onions, anaheims, jalapenos, garlic and cilantro.


Step 1:  Wash tomatoes


Step 2:  Blanch tomatoes
For the best quality canned salsa the tomato skins need to be removed.  Although this is admittedly tedious, you will be much happier with your final result if you take the extra time and remove the skins.


Blanching is a quick process.  Usually a 10-30 second dunk is all that is required.  Pull the tomatoes out of the hot water as soon as you see the skin begin to split.


Step 3:  Remove skins


Step 4:  Remove seeds and liquid portions and dice the tomatoes, place in a colander and drain excess liquids.


Step 5:  While diced tomatoes are draining, chop all the remaining ingredients except cilantro.


Step 6:  Combine all the ingredients in a stock pot and slowly bring to a boil.
Time to boil varies depending on the quantity of ingredients, anticipate your wait time to be approximately one hour.  Don’t forget to occasionally stir the ingredients while you wait.
Once the mixture has reached a boil, lower the heat and simmer for approximately 30 minutes (don’t forget to stir) … Add the chopped cilantro during the last five minutes for a brighter flavor.


Step 7:  Wash jars
To prevent spoilage it is very important to make sure your containers are clean and sanitized.   There is absolutely no room for shortcuts here.


Step 8:  Boil jars for about 5 minutes. 
This kills all germs that could be potentially growing on the surface.  I can’t stress enough… don’t skip this step!  A food born illness is not worth the risk.


Step 9:  Remove the jars from the hot water bath and immediately fill with contents.  
In the case of salsa and almost any tomato product you need to add 2-3 teaspoons of lime juice,  lemon juice or vinegar to the jar before adding in the hot salsa mixture.  I prefer lime juice for salsa.  The lime juice acts as an additional acid which helps preserve the food and prevent botulism.


Using a canning funnel helps keep the rims of the glass clean while filling jars.  Before placing lids on jars wipe around the ring of the jar with a damp cloth.  Doing so will ensure a tight seal in the canning process.


Step 10:  Process jars in a boiling hot water bath
Actual processing time varies depending on the items you are canning and your elevation.  Refer to your specific recipe for instructions.


Once the jars are cooled, all you need to do is store them and enjoy; but save some, cracking one of these jars in the middle of winter comes with a taste of summer.


Holy Tomatoes! / Boise photographer

 A few months back I wrote about how I had once again started some of my summer plants from seed (previous post).  I spent this past weekend at home with family & discovered a few yummy delights ripe for the picking.
This bowl contains a mixture of brandyboy (similar to brandywine) & amish paste tomatoes.
Yep, that’s me holding just two of my gigantic finds.

With gigantic tomatoes like these all I could think was,
Let’s Make Salsa!!
Step 1:  Dice tomatoes

Step 2:  Place diced tomatoes in colander to drain excess juice.

Step 3:  Salt tomatoes while draining excess fluids.
I prefer to use a spice blend I picked up from Molly’s Mills, a local Boise business.  Her spices are sold at the Capital City Public Market every Saturday or online at www.mollysmills.com

Step 4:  While tomatoes are draining chop cilantro, onion and jalepeno

Step 5:  Mix together, onion, jalepeno and cilantro.

Step 6:  Incorporate the drained, diced tomatoes into the above mixture.
(notice the large glass of tomatoe juice in the background.  All that juice came from the diced tomatoes.)

Step 7:  Add fresh lime juice to the mix

Now that the Salsa is complete you’ll need something like a great bag of chips to add to your creation.  My husband and I prefer Juanita’s.

Yummy!  Chips & Salsa

Brian + Joan / Boise Wedding Photographer

Joan and Brian chose Boise’s  St. Michaels Cathedral as the backdrop for their traditional Episcopalian ceremony.  This Cathedral is one of Boise’s oldest with the first church services being held in 1864.  Although these are not the original four walls that the founding congregation met under, this cathedral is still over 100 years old.  It’s one of Boise’s finest examples of architectural beauty and intricate craftsmanship.
Many families have celebrated joyous occasions in this church and Joan’s family is no exception.   Joan was not the first of her family to get married in St. Michael’s and she brought a little bit of her families history & traditions to the event.  A penny, one given to Joan’s mother when Joan was born, was tucked into the beading of her dress for good luck.  In addition the family tartan could be found in details throughout the day, including the ribbon on Joan’s bouquet and the bow in her sister’s hair.  The colors of the tartan were also incorporated into the wedding colors.
It’s always such a pleasure to be welcomed into peoples lives and have the honor of photographing their wedding.  Thank you Brian and Joan for making me feel like a part of the family.

Joan’s father walked her down the aisle.

A Greg Marsh cake design.

 Joan’s family tartan was used in many details throughout the wedding, including her bouquet.
Tartan colors were incorporated into the wedding colors.

VCI Audio Entertainment helped set the mood for the first dance.

Joan & Brian rented a photo booth from Captions Vintage Photo booth for guests to enjoy.
 Joan & Brian have just followed in another of Joan’s family traditions.  The family even has a custom ring design.  Brian, Joan, Joan’s sister and her husband all have the same rings.

Look what the stork brought! / Boise newborn photographer

This little bundle of joy came to be from two great people that I’ve known for quite a while now.  Dakota is only two months old and oh so cute.  You just want to pinch her cheeks and give her lots of hugs and kisses. 

My favorite shot from the bunch.  I just love the sparkle in her eyes.

Soft little baby feet came from Mommy and Daddy’s love.
Brian and Mandi, this was a fun shoot.  Congratulations!

To view photos from Brian and Mandi’s wedding you can view them here.

Ben + Nicole / Boise Wedding Photographer

Family and friends gathered at St. Mary’s Catholic church one afternoon to watch Ben & Nicole tie the knot.  The recently remodeled church was a gorgeous backdrop for their formal ceremony which included Catholic Mass.   Following the ceremony guests relocated to The Arid Club to join in the evening’s festivities which included cocktail hour, dinner and dancing.

Just a few of the wood details that can be found throughout the church.

Ben & Nicole’s first dance as husband & wife.

A touching moment during the father-daughter dance.