Thursday, September 5, 2013

Chili For the Chilly Months

    Of all the things we can/freeze, Chili has got to be the thing we eat the most of. Our family LOVES Mexican food because it's healthy, we can grow a lot of it ourselves and my Mom and Dad are both from the southwest and grew up eating it. Someday, Dad hopes we can perfect a tamale recipe (he just loves those).
    Until then, we love our taco salad, burritos and fajitas ... all of which require canned chili.

    We get our beans in large bags from our church storehouse because we haven't been able to find a place that sells them cheaper. When Mom and Dad come home with their dozen bags or more we put liners in 5-gallon buckets and pour the beans in. We then suck all the air out we can, tie the liners closed and store the buckets in the basement.
    Before we do anything with the beans (pinto or kidney) they have to sorted. When they're harvested sometimes little pebbles can sneak in and stored along with the beans so we have to look through every handful very carefully before placing it in the pot. We wouldn't want someone to break a tooth or something. 

    Ideally, the beans should soak over night. But we got home late last night and didn't have time to sort and soak the beans so we soaked them for two hours, washed them under the sink until the water ran off clear and then boiled them for a half hour. This makes the beans just as soft as if they were soaked all night, but it isn't as healthy because we have to heat the beans.  

Wash the beans until the water isn't cloudy anymore ...

... then boil for an half hour.

They're Ready To Turn Into Chili!

    We did two batches of chili: pinto chili and kidney chili. We've made black bean chili before but it never was very popular (in fact, we still have some of that original batch in the basement) so we stopped making it. I can hardly tasted a difference between the pinto and the kidney, but some people can so we always keep both kinds in the basement. 

   Our chili is a mixture of pureed tomatoes, chopped peppers, raw corn and chopped onions. While my brother and I prepared the beans my sister prepared the onions. These are from our garden ... don't they look great? We did better with onions this year than ever before.

The chili before it's cooked.

The chili after it's cooked.

    My brother works at a furniture shop for an Amish friend of ours every Tuesday and my mom paid an this friend to make her a canning box. She designed it herself. It has a slot for wide mouth rings, wide mouth lids, narrow neck rings, narrow neck lids, canning funnel, magnet wands (for pulling the sanitized lids out of the boiling water), pressure caner gauges, timers and two jar lifters (or whatever they're called :).

Add a tsp of salt to each jar

    Fill the jars up with solids first and then add the juice. If there doesn't seem to be enough juice mix a little water with the beans/tomatoes/onions/corn/peppers. If the jars are filled too full they will run over while they boil in the pressure caner and not seal. Trust me, you don't want jars upon jars of chili filling up your fridge.
    Remember to wipe the rims before putting the sanitized lids in place and to only screw the rings on finger tight before placing carefully in teh pressure caner.

    After the jars have been removed from the heat and cooled overnight, wash them, label them, load them into boxes and send them downstairs where they will wait patently for you to crave some homemade Mexican food.