Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Garden Salsa

I have been looking for a great garden salsa recipe that doesn't require a mix such as Mrs. Wages (granted, Mrs. Wages is my favorite seasoning packet to use for salsa; and its very easy, but unfortunately, a little expensive) I found this recipe on one of my favorite canning recipe websites call "Pick Your Own".  I found this to be a yummy recipe and made 8 pints. My husband prefers fresh salsa, but unfortunately, fresh salsa will not last through the winter and remain fresh and frozen...YUCK!

Ingredients:
  • 15 lbs of tomatoes
  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 6 jalapeño peppers, seeded, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 12-ounce cans tomato paste (adds body)
  • 2 cups bottled lemon or lime juice (if you are using a mix, be sure to follow their recipe; the packet mixes often use vinegar instead of lemon juice)
  • 1 tablespoon salt (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons oregano leaves or chopped cilantro (optional) 

Step 1. Removing the tomato skins.

Put the tomatoes, a few at a time in a large pot of boiling water for no more than 3 minutes (1-2 minutes is usually enough). Then, Plunge them into a waiting bowl of ice water. This makes the skins slide right off of the tomatoes!  If you leave the skins on, they become tough and chewy in the sauce.

Step 2. Removing seeds and water.

After you have peeled the skins off the tomatoes, cut the tomatoes in half.  Now, remove the seeds and excess water.

Step 3. Drain and dice the tomatoes.

Toss tomatoes into a colander or drainer, while you work on others. This helps more of the water to drain off.  You may want to save the liquid: if you then pass it through a sieve, screen or cheesecloth, you have fresh tomato juice; great to drink cold or use in cooking! Next chop them up in 1/2 inch size cubes. You'll need about 3 quarts of peeled, cored, chopped tomatoes.

Step 4. Sanitize the jars and lids.

The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle.  I start that while I'm preparing everything else, so it's done by the time I'm ready to fill the jars.

Step 5. Chop seasonings.

I use an electric chopper (food processor) to dice the seasonings fairly fine, about 1/8 inch cubes (everything but the tomatoes).

Step 6. Mix ingredients and bring the sauce to a gentle simmer.

Start with the chopped tomatoes in the pot.  Add the seasonings and bring to a gentle simmer, just to get it hot (180 F, if you have a thermometer) there's no need to cook it; only to get it hot enough to ready it for water bath processing to kill any bacteria and enzymes. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 7. Fill the jars with sauces and put the lid and rings on.

Fill them to within ¼-inch of the top, seat the lid and hand-tighten the ring around them. Be sure the contact surfaces (top of the jar and underside of the ring) are clean to get a good seal!

Step 8. Boil the jars in the canner.

Put them in the canner and keep them covered with at least 1 to 2 inches of water. Keep the water boiling. Process the jars in a boiling-water bath for:
Recommended process time for Tomato/Tomato Paste Salsa in a boiling-water canner.
Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size 0 - 1,000 ft 1,001 - 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Hot Pints or 8 oz jars 15 min 20 25
IMPORTANT:
The USDA says the only change you can safely make in this salsa recipe is to change the amount of spices and herbs. Do not alter the proportions of vegetables to acid and tomatoes because it might make the salsa unsafe. Do not substitute vinegar for the lemon juice.

Step 9 - Done

Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight).  You can then remove the rings if you like. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed, verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok.