Tomatillo Salsa

Compared to fifty pounds of cucumbers, this singular colander of tomatillos did not seem like much of a project. Even after finding a recipe online that looked promising, and reading the ingredient list that would include eight cups of chopped onion, three cups of chopped chile peppers and a cup of chopped jalapenos, I was still thinking it wouldn’t be that big a deal. What’s a bit of chopping? Adding to my determination was the fact that my hubby grew the tomatillos, onion and garlic (just 12 cloves). It’s been hard work keeping up with the steady flow of produce from the garden, and I hate wasting food.

The only items I needed to purchase from the store were the peppers, lemon juice, some spices and more jars. My supply was depleted by the pickle party last month. When I got to PCC, there were maybe a dozen withered and lame looking Anaheim peppers out for sale. The produce manager on duty was happy to inform me that she’d just received a new box from Full Circle farms and brought it out for me to pick through. Now here were some fresh, fleshy and succulent peppers that were also local and organic! Yay.

When I got home I spent a good twenty minutes removing the paper husks from the tomatillos. The task is made much easier if you put the fruit in a bowl of water and peel the paper off underneath the surface. Once they were cleaned, I just had to chop them up. It turns out that I don’t like the smell of raw tomatillos. In fact, it is downright nauseating. I’ve never had a problem with cooked tomatillos, and green salsa is generally my favorite. Some things are just better in their cooked form. By the time I was done chopping them up, I was looking forward to replacing the scent with the onion.

I used about four of the onions we had harvested the day before to get the eight cups needed for the recipe. By the time I was done, my eyes were watering and I was over the sickly sweet smell of the tomatillos. I’ve heard there are various things to do to help with chopping onion, but I’ve never had anything work. I’ve tried burning a candle nearby, holding bread in my mouth and chilling the onion without success. I refuse to buy a pair of those silly looking goggles I’ve seen at the store.

The picture I took of the jalapenos was too blurry, but the Anaheims look pretty good. Just imagine a smaller pile next to them, a pair of rubber gloves and about an hour or more of seed removal and chopping time.

The tomatillos, onion, peppers, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, pepper, oregano (also from our garden) all went into a pot and cooked for half an hour before being packed into hot jars and then put through a long hot water bath. At the end of four hours, we have ten pints of green tomatillos salsa. By the time it had all cooked down, the inside of our house smelled like a restaurant.

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