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Making Salsa has become a late summer tradition at our house. Late in the summer, our garden seems to always produce more tomatoes than we can ever eat fresh, so we have to figure out what to do with them. We can tomatoes, tomato juice, and pasta sauce. We give tomatoes away to friends and family. Some years we make ketchup, and we still have surplus tomatoes. A few years ago we decided to try our hands at salsa, and the results were beyond expectations. I'll share our recipe here, as well as our method for canning salsa.
Making salsa is a pretty simple process. It only requires just a few ingredients.
-1 gallon of blanched, peeled, and crushed tomatoes
-5 medium onions
-3 bulbs of garlic
-1 bundle of Cilantro chopped
-6 to 8 Bell Peppers
Prepare onions, garlic, peppers, and cilantro, by removing skins, stems, seeds, etc and chopping coarsely. You can adjust the amount of heat in your salsa by the number of jalapeno peppers you add. about 4 in a batch this size makes mild, 6-10 makes medium, adding more makes it hotter - you get the idea...
You may note that there are small orange peppers mixed in with the green bell peppers in the picture of my ingredients - no they are not habaneros, they are actually some sweet mini-bell peppers from my garden. I added them for the color more than flavor.
That's not to say you can't add habaneros or other hot peppers, you certainly can, if you like their flavor and heat. Just remember your "audience" when you're making salsa. If some members of your family don't care for screaming hot salsa, make it mild. You can add more heat to individual servings later.
Combine all vegetable ingredients in a large sauce pan (hold back the lime juice and salt for later). Bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.
When you combine your ingredients for salsa, you really don't have to cook them. Fresh salsa with raw ingredients is a treat all it's own.
However if you're planning on preserving your salsa by canning it, you need to bring it to simmer in preparation for canning. If you are going to eat it fresh add your lime juice and salt straight to the mixture.
Salsa is a high acid food, so canning it only requires using the water bath method (also called the boiling water method). I prefer to can my salsa in pint jars, but quarts work as well. If you plan to use quarts, double the amount of salt and lime juice for each jar. Remember to clean your canning jars thoroughly before filling them.
BEFORE you start filling canning jars with salsa, do two things:
1 - Place canning lids in a pan of water and bring to a boil. This serves to sterilize the lids, and softens up the rubber gasket on the lid making for a better seal during canning.
2 - Partially fill your water bath canner with water (enough to completely cover all of the filled jars) and put it on your stove on high heat.THEN:
in each pint jar add:
1 tsp canning salt.
3 tbsp lime juice.
Ladle hot salsa into canning jars, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch of head space.
With a damp cloth or paper towel, wipe clean the top rim of each canning jar. Any residue can prevent proper sealing.
Apply lids and rings to the canning jars and tighten hand tight. Use a magnetic lid want to remove the lids from the pan of boiling water.
Place jars one by one in the boiling water canner. Use a jar lifter to prevent getting burned.
Bring the water bath back to a medium boil and maintain it for 15 minutes. If canning quarts, 20 minutes.
When time is up, remove the jars from the canner with a jar lifter, and place them on a cutting board or heavy cloth rag to cool and seal. You should start to hear the "plink" sound (the satisfying sound of success!!!) of jars sealing within a few minutes.
All sealing should be done within an hour or so. If any jars don't seal, refrigerate them and use them within a month or less - unsealed jars will not keep at room temperature.
Don't forget to write on the lids what's in the jars, and the date that you canned it.
There's something satisfying about growing, making and preserving your own food. Making salsa rates high on the satisfaction level for me. If you have surplus tomatoes in your garden, learning to make and can your own salsa, helps prevent them from going to waste. Even if you don't have surplus, learning a new skill like this will help you and your family become more self sufficient.