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Salsa Verde:
A Great Green Garden Taste Treat
by Nancy Castleman

Last year, thanks to Deborah Roers, who we met while hosting a chat for the Simple Living Network, we grew tomatillos for the first time.

What's a tomatillo, you ask? A key ingredient in salsa verde, tomatillos look like large green cherry tomatoes with a brownish paper-like wrapper (a husk) around it.

Last fall, Marc tried out a recipe for salsa verde from a back issue of Kitchen Garden magazine (that he got at the recycling center, of course). It was delicious, but very watery, so he played with the recipe some. Once Marc got the salsa thickerer, he put a few little containers of it in the freezer -- as much as we didn't immediately devour every time he made it.

Then we decided that it'd make sense for us to find a recipe that we could can, so we could make A LOT of it without filling every square inch of our freezer space with salsa verde. So I tooled around the 'Net, found some recipes, tinkered with a few, and then canned away. Here's the amalgamated recipe we used:

Ingredients for Marc and Nancy's Salsa Verde

                           2 pounds (about 8 cups) tomatillos
                           2 cups chopped onions
                           1-4 hot peppers, seeded and chopped
                           1 cup cilantro, minced
                           4-8 cloves of garlic
                           1/2 cup lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
                           1/2 cup lime juice (ditto)

After removing the husks, halve and then coarsely chop the tomatillos. (We do ours in a food processor.)

Lightly coat the bottom of a large pot with oil, turn the burner on high, and add all the ingredients. Stir frequently and bring to a boil. Lower the temperature and let the salsa simmer for about 20 minutes.

Other recipes call for cumin, oregano, water, oil, lemon thyme, salt, pepper, chicken broth (DO NOT USE the broth if you're planning to can), tarragon, cognac, sugar, tart apples, vinegar, and sweet red peppers. With the exception of the chicken broth (if you're going to can), feel free to add a bit of any or all of these to your salsa before you bring it to a boil. This year, I'm going to add some sweet red peppers (hopefully from our garden) to give the salsa a festive look, and we'll give some away come the holidays.

Most of the recipes we found called for pint jars. I thought we'd be better off with half-pints, so I carefully filled sterilized half-pint jars and processed them for 20 minutes using the boiling-water-bath method. (For complete canning directions, we recommend The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest. To order, click here.

As I write this, much to our dismay, we're about to finish our last jar from 1999. And we learned that a half-pint often wasn't large enough when we served the green salsa to company -- even kids love it, and will eat vegetables they would otherwise ignore jsut to get more of the salsa! So this year, I'm going to do LOTS of both size jars.

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Reprinted from The Pocket Change Investor© 2000, Marc Eisenson & Nancy Castleman

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