James and I created 14 pints of salsa the other day. Most of the peppers that went into the salsa came from our garden.
It is very rewarding and enjoyable to garden, grow produce, use it in meals, can salsas and relishes with it.
Our family eats a lot of salsa so we made a big batch. We’ll be making more soon so that we have plenty for the year ahead.
Here is the recipe I used. The original recipe can be found in this book
But, as I view recipes more as suggestions rather than mandates I tweaked it to our liking. So here is my recipe:
Garden Fresh Salsa
- 20 cups chopped, cored, peeled tomatoes
- 6 cups chopped onion
- 4 cups coarsly chopped green bell pepper
- 1 or 2 cherry bomb peppers (depending on how much heat you want to pack)
- 16 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped (or leave seeds in for more heat)
- 2 cans (5.5oz) tomato paste
- 2 cups vinegar
- 1 cup fresh, finely chopped cilantro OR 1/4 cup dried cilantro
- 1 1/4 tsp. cumin
- Mix all the ingredients together in a large stainless steel pot. Over medium heat, stir frequently and bring to boil. Reduce heat and boil gently until thickened, about 30 – 45 minutes or so.
- Ladle hot salsa into hot pint canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim, put canning lid on. Screw band down and tighten by hand.
- Process in boiling water bath for 20 minutes. Remove canner lid. Allow to sit in water for additional 5 minutes. Remove jars from water, cool on towel undisturbed for overnight. Label and store.
If you want to find out more details on the how-to’s of canning, I highly recommend the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving or The All New Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving: Over 350 of the Best Canned, Jammed, Pickled, and Preserved Recipes.
I haven’t always been a gardener. But over the course of 12 years in the Philippines, my interest in gardening grew. Many Filipinos have small garden plots that produce edible items constantly. I loved being able to buy fresh produce all year round from the market.
I decided when we returned to the USA and had a house, I’d do a vegetable garden. I can’t grow items year round but I certainly enjoy planning my garden, planting, and harvesting the produce when the seasons allow.
I love working the soil, pulling weeds, watching the seeds grow into plants, eating and preserving the results. I am thankful that my mom did so much canning and taught me by her example how to can goods.
And I find that as my interest in gardening has grown over the years, so has my interest in spiritual growth. Why is it some people grow in their faith while others seem to whither? God calls us to produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit – Galatians 5:22-24
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.Galatians 5: 22 – 24
Growth in our spiritual life entails pulling weeds, tilling soil, fertilizing, planting seed, prayer. Spiritual practices such as contemplative prayer, meditation on scripture, self-examination, solitude strengthen our walk with Christ.
Colossians 3 tells us to put to death what’s earthly in us. This is the pulling weeds part. Some weeds send their roots down deep and if only the growth above ground is pulled, the root will send new growth. The root needs to be pulled. This is not an easy process.
The Holy Spirit helps us in growing the fruit of the Spirit. Just as a pear, which starts out small, hard, and sour matures into a fruit green and delicious, so our growth in Christ matures. As disciples of Christ our lives will grow increasingly loving, kind, gentle, patient, faithful, self-controlled, joy-filled, peace-filled, and good.
Jesus gives us many analogies of our spiritual growth compared with plant growth –
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.John 15:1-8
Abiding in Christ, setting our minds on Him, on things above, seeking Him first in all our ways – these are all attitudes of the heart, disciplines of the mind that can be cultivated in the soil of our spiritual growth. Faith is active. Just as gardening can be hard work yet so richly rewarding, so is actively living as a follower of Christ. Read His Word. Hide His Word in your heart. Seek Him first in all your ways. Only God gives the growth (1 Corinthians 3: 6-9).
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.John 15:5