In the area where I live the promise of apples, pumpkins, and colorful fall foliage is right around the corner. For now, however, it’s stinking hot and one last rush of tomatoes and peppers are coming in. With that, I know I need to enjoy a few more tomato sandwiches while the getting is good. It’s also time to squirrel away some of those late summer flavors for the winter.
My husband and I recently celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. Traditionally, wool or copper are the gifts to give on your 7th anniversary, but it’s way too hot outside to think of anything wool, and have you seen the price of copper? We’re on a tight budget, you know! I decided, instead, to ditch tradition and to make my husband something that truly makes him happy. It’s a labor of love that will add flavor and spice to his life for months – salsa!
This salsa recipe is written loosely, meaning that you can use assorted paste tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, and sweet onions, while maintaining the same ratios of acid (vinegar) and salt to fruit and veg. Basically, it’s perfect for cleaning out your garden at the end of the season. Depending on the varieties that are available to you at the time, each batch may taste a little different, but that’s part of the fun!
When I say that salsa is a labor of love, I don’t mean that it’s a particularly hard canning venture. It’s just that there is so much tomato peeling and seeding, pepper seeding, and dicing of everything involved! To make it more enjoyable, I recommend putting on some good music for starters. It’s also extremely helpful to dip your tomatoes in simmering water for one minute before peeling. First slice an “X” into the skin with a paring knife, then simmer for one minute, remove from the pot and place the fruit into an ice water bath before peeling, seeding and cutting.
Below is a visual of how you will break down your tomatoes for salsa. (1) simmer, (2) peel, (3) remove top and quarter, (4) using your thumbs, scoop out the seeds and discard, and finally (5) dice. As you might imagine, to get 10 C of diced paste tomatoes, this takes a fair amount of time.
All of the hard work will be worth it in the end when you have flavorful jars of salsa ready to be enjoyed all year! I figured out that it cost me 15 dollars for produce and supplies for 9 jars, as I used some produce from our crop share. If you have a home garden I bet it may cost you even less! For me, that meant I spent $1.67 per jar. Our favorite comparable organic salsa is $4.50 a jar. What an example of how canning can really save $$$!
I know my husband was pleased with his anniversary jars of salsa. It may not have been copper, but instead something much spicier, and he can be reminded of how much I love him all winter long, one jar at a time!
- 10 C assorted peeled and seeded diced paste tomatoes (about 8 lbs)
- 5 C assorted seeded and diced sweet and/or green peppers (about 2 lbs)
- 1 C assorted seeded and finely diced hot peppers (about ⅓ lb)
- finely chopped seeds of hot peppers to taste (be careful)*
- 5 C assorted diced sweet onions (about 1½ lbs)
- 1 head of garlic, minced
- 3 tsp salt
- 1¼ C cider vinegar
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp minced cilantro
- water bath canner or large pot
- 8-9 pint sized canning jars
- 8-9 canning lids and rings
- hand-held blender
- wide mouth funnel
- canning bubble remover
- magnetic lid grabber
- jar grabber
- clean dish towel
- clean paper towels
- Place 9 canning jars in the dishwasher and wash on high heat without soap in order to sterilize. If you don't have a dishwasher, boil the jars in a large pot for about 10 minutes. Fill a water bath canner or a large pot three-quarters of the way full with water and begin to bring to a boil over high heat.
- Prep and combine all of your ingredients together in a large pot, bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer. When handling hot peppers wear disposable gloves, and don't rub your eyes. Before peeling tomatoes, place them in simmering water for 1 minute, and the peel should slide right off. Simmer for 10 minutes. If the salsa seems watery, simmer longer until it reaches the consistency you like. The longer you simmer it, the the thicker your salsa will be.
- While your salsa is simmering, place the head of a hand-held blender, a funnel, a ladle, a canning bubble remover, and a magnetic lid grabber into your boiling water. Sterilize for 10 minutes and then remove them with tongs and place them on a freshly cleaned dish towel.
- Using a hand-held blender, puree your salsa until it reaches the amount of chunkiness/smoothness you like.
- Place 9 lids and rims into a saucepan with water, and bring to scalding temperature (just before a simmer or a boil). Do not boil, as this can damage the seals. Allow them to sit in the water for 10 minutes before using.
- Remove your sterilized canning jars from the dishwasher. Being careful not to touch the inside of your jars, and using your sterilized funnel and ladle, ladle your salsa into each jar. Leave ½ inch headspace between the salsa and the top of the jar.
- Dip a clean paper towel into your boiling water and then use it to wipe the rims of your jars clean.
- Using a magnetic lid grabber, place the lids and rings on each jar, making sure not to touch the inside of the lid. To place the rings on the jars, screw them on until you start to feel resistance, and then loosen them about ⅛ of an inch. This is important because a small amount of air can be released while it's in the canner, which will create a vacuum as the jars cool.
- Place the jars into a water bath canner. Process by boiling for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes have passed, remove the jars from the boiling water using a jar grabber and store them someplace where they won't be disturbed for 24 hours. You should hear "popping" sounds as the jars seal. If you have a jar that doesn't seal, put it in the refrigerator and use it within 1 month. The sealed jars are shelf stable for 1 year if stored in a cool, dark space. It's best to store them with the rings off so that moisture doesn't get trapped under them and compromise the seal. Once opened, each jar may be stored in the refrigerator for 1 month.**
**For food safety purposes, that acid and salt balance relative to produce was based on a recipe for Zesty Salsa from the Ball Blue Book. I have simply further explained the steps of the canning process for you, have added the step of pureeing the mixture with a hand blender, added seeds for extra heat, and added sugar and lemon juice. Always use canning recipes that have been tested for food safety. Never decrease acid, sugar, or salt in a canning recipe.
Nutritional Information is reflective of 4 servings per a pint.