Last year at around this time, we were overflowing with tomatoes from our garden. Some of the vines, I swear, were 10 feet high. Our windowsills were stuffed with ripening tomatoes of every shape and size. We slow-roasted tons of Romas and cherries (delicious), tried fire-roasting a whole barbecue full of heirlooms (less successful), and ate lots of margarita pizzas on the barbecue. We even discovered out in our 12′ by 12′ Eden a freakish tomato that taught me much about the power of positive thinking. And we whipped up and canned huge, wonderful, delicious batches of spicy salsa.
It was a glorious, glorious time.
Fast forward to one year later, and cue the “waw waaaaaahhh” sound bite. Our barely three-foot tomato vines are brown and wilted. A few lonely green tomatoes dangle sadly, trying with all their might to turn. Exactly one Roma adorns our windowsill. Needless to say, the Seattle summer of 2010 came and went in the blink of an eye.
But heck if we were going to go without our favorite homemade salsa, gosh darnit!
Probably my most-complimented condiment ever, I found the original recipe on Food.com (the former Recipezaar), and it’s pretty much perfect. For a canned salsa, it still has a nice, fresh taste. It’s got a hint of heat (which you can adjust easily with a few more or less jalapeno peppers and their seeds), and the cumin and garlic add a nice bite. The green peppers and onions lend perfect flavor and texture. Yeah, it’s got tomato sauce and tomato paste which at first glance seems a little wrong, but just trust me. It’s actually oh-so right.
My one complaint? We can never seem to make quite enough to last us through the winter. The stuff just goes too darn fast.
And so, with a sad goodbye glance to our pitiful garden, I hopped in the car, drove down to a farm stand in the valley, and loaded up on some (far more successfully) locally grown tomatoes, onions, and peppers. And then we made our salsa.
Here’s the recipe, so that you can make some too! Just so you know, this recipe – which is VERY much worth the effort – takes awhile. Lots and lots of chopping. I decided that next year, I’m going to invite a bunch of girlfriends over for a Salsa! Salsa! Canning Party. Everyone will bring a veggie, we’ll all chop away and drink lots of margaritas, and then everyone will take home cans of salsa to enjoy throughout the winter. (Who’s in?!)
Oh, also, please read this important note on canning this salsa: When canning this salsa as I do, in a hot water bath, I advise against altering the recipe much. Specifically, you want to be careful to retain a certain level of acid in the mixture so that it keeps safely without growing any of that bad bacteria. If you want to increase the high-acid ingredients like the vinegar or the tomatoes, you should be fine. But be careful adding additional veggies – onions, peppers, other vegetables. This could cause your salsa to teeter too much on the alkaline side, and it may not be safe for hot water bath canning. Personally, I’m comfortable canning this salsa as-is, because it has enough tomatoes and vinegar, along with the citric acid in the tomato sauce, to make me feel confident – and I’ve not experienced any problems eating the canned product, nor have many other folks who have followed this recipe. You may want to print the recipe and run it by your local county cooperative extension office, just to be safe. These folks are the experts; I’m just a silly little blogger, and still somewhat of a novice at this whole canning thing.
Okay, now here’s the recipe!
Lightly adapted from this Wonderful Salsa recipe on Food.com
Yield: 3 – 4 quarts of salsa
Nutrition data from Nutritiondata.com (per 1/4 cup serving): 21 calories, 0g fat, 5g total carbs (1g fiber, 3g sugars), protein 1g. Vitamin A 8% daily value, Vitamin C 18%, Calcium 1%, Iron 3%.
- 8 cups tomatoes, peeled and chopped (this is about 10 – 12 large tomatoes worth)
- 2 1/2 cups yellow onions, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups green peppers, chopped
- 3/4 – 1 cup jalapeno peppers, chopped (go 3/4 cup and remove the seeds for a mild salsa, or 1 full cup and keep the seeds for a hotter salsa)
- 6 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons canning salt
- 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
- 1/3 cup white vinegar
- 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 (12-ounce) can tomato paste
- Prep your canning jars – clean them thoroughly, sterilize, and get everything ready for your salsa canning frenzy.
- Peel the tomatoes. This is how I do it:
- Cut out the stem end. I use my handy dandy strawberry huller – works like a charm.
- With a paring knife, score an X in the top of the tomato, kind of like so.
- Dip the tomato into boiling water for about 10 seconds (or up to 60 seconds for more stubborn tomatoes like Romas).
- Place the tomato into a bowl of ice water. This will cool it off for handling, and keep it from cooking more than you might want it to.
- The skin should slip right off, and before you know it, you’ll have a whole bunch of these:
- Chop the tomatoes, then place in a colander to drain. Don’t rinse; just stick the colander in the sink so the excess juices drain off as you’re chopping away.
- Chop up the remaining veggies: Onions, green peppers, jalapenos, garlic. Chop, chop!
Oh, and check this out! Pyrex was kind enough to send me a couple of their new kitchen tools, like this neat-o measuring cup where you read the numbers from above. I love it. (Admittedly it works a little better for liquid ingredients, but it’s also super nice when you’re piling diced veggies in there and can easily see at a glance when you’ve hit your amount).
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, stir together all ingredients, including all the tomatoes and veggies you just chopped up.
- Bring to a boil. Let boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Ladle into clean, sterilized canning jars, and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes (please read my important note regarding canning above the recipe in the blog story!) My guy likes to do this part. He’s the cutest (sorry, sorry – I’m a newlywed, I can’t help myself). (Here are thorough instructions here from the Virginia Cooperative Extension, if you like.)
- Once the jars have cooled, it’s fun (and practical, if you can a lot of stuff) to make labels. Here I just used some 2″x4″ Avery labels, printed ‘em up on our home printer, cut them out with a 1 1/2″ scalloped round punch, and stuck ‘em on to the jars.
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