That’s how it started. With 15 pounds of organic carrots, water bath canning equipment, cans, lids, rings and a book: Canning for Dummies. Except that Niki hadn’t cracked the book before arriving at my house.And I’d never canned carrots. (Insert large red flag, flapping in the breeze…)
On the surface, the idea was a sheer stroke of genius. We’d get together before Christmas and can some very special homemade concoction, tying the jars with pretty ribbons and attaching homemade labels, wishing those lucky enough to receive such an inventive gift the merrriest of Christmases and most prosperous of new years. Apparently, that’s the magic of carrots.
Unless they can’t be canned in a water bath because they’re low in acid. That’s right. If you’re gonna can carrots, you need a pressure canner. Which is where the old adage that no good deed goes unpunished kicked in. There we stood, with 15 pounds of carrots and well, no where to go, if you will.
So after a bit of laughter, tinged with absolute self-loathing that we hadn’t thought this whole process through, we discussed plan B. The over-riding temptation was to forget the whole thing – crack open a couple bottles of wine and wallow in utter defeat. Or we could pick something else to can – something that didn’t require a pressure canner (where’s a good pressure canner when you need it??). In all honesty, we weren’t about to let 15 pounds of carrots defeat us…
We toyed with the idea of pickling the carrots with cucumbers and onions or whatever, quickly nixing that one. We discussed the prospects of a nice preserve, too. But that one was shot down as well. Of course, we returned to the wine drinking at several points as well, until we finally decided on salsa.
Our new idea meant a trip to the store, which Niki volunteered to do. I stayed back and started a batch of olive cheese balls (you’ll need a copy of In the Kitchen with Liz and Kate for that recipe, now won’t you? )
Ten pounds of tomatoes, 20 jalapenos, a dozen limes, a basket of cilantro, garlic and the biggest red onion I’ve ever seen later, we were ready. All we needed now was a partridge in a pear tree.
Luckily, fate smiled on the rest of our canning adventure, and in less than three hours, we had eight jars of the prettiest salsa you’ve ever seen. And for any of you out there wondering, it tasted pretty jolly good to boot!
There’s still the question of what we’ll do with the 15 bags of organic carrots. Suffice to say, Santa’s reindeer look to score in a big way…