A few weeks back Sunflower Farmers Market had on the vine tomatoes on sale for $0.67/lb. On the vine tomatoes are usually at least $1.50/lb., even at Costco they are about $2.20/lb. I figured if I was ever going to experiment with making and canning fresh salsa, this was my chance. The recipe made about 13 pint jars.
I learned that canning with tomatoes can be tricky. The pH has to be just right to not use a pressure cooker – which I do not have. Tomatoes are borderline, not quite acidic enough so you have to follow recipes carefully if you don’t want spoilage and you typically add apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. The actual process isn’t too difficult, but the prep-work is a little time consuming to do alone. Cooking is always more fun with a friend!
Kerr pint canning jars – sterilized in the dishwasher
Lids – thin, flat, metal lids with gum binder that seals them against the top of the jar. You need new lids each time.
15 lbs tomatoes – I used a mixture of on-the-vine and Roma for texture variation
7 Anaheim chilies – seeded
4 jalapenos – seeded
3 c chopped onion
1/2 c fresh cilantro
4 cloves garlic
1 Tbs oregano – I used fresh from my herb garden
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbs salt
1 1/2 Tbs ground cumin
1 Tbs chili powder
1 c 5% apple cider vinegar
2 – 6 oz. cans tomato paste
Advance prep-work: make sure the jars have been sterilized in the dishwasher. Boil the lids gently for 3 minutes.
The first step is the most time intensive – removing the skins and seeds. I think it is best to have 2 people working in tandem with one removing the skins and another removing the seeds if you are able. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Put tomatoes a few at a time into boiling water (30-45 seconds), then plunge in ice water. This makes the skins very easy to remove.
After removing the skins, cut the tomatoes in half and remove the seeds and excess water. Squeeze each tomato and use your finger or a spoon to scoop and shake out most of the seeds. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Put the peeled and de-seeded tomatoes into a colander as you work. Next, chop them into 1/2 inch pieces and set aside in a large pot.
Using a food processor, process the onions, Anaheim chilies, and jalapeno peppers to about 1/8 of an inch. Process them separately so that you can add a little of the chilies and peppers at a time until you reach your desired heat.
Bring the tomatoes to a simmer and add the onions and seasonings. Start off adding half of the chilies and peppers. Bring to a gentle simmer. Taste it as it simmers to see if you would like additional seasonings or peppers. If you like a thicker salsa, you can add 4 Tbs of cornstarch to the vinegar mixture before adding. Add the vinegar, and cornstarch if using. Add the tomato paste. Simmer 5 minutes.
While you are filling the jars with salsa, bring a large pot of water to a boil to can the salsa. Fill the jars to within ¼-inch of the top, cover with the lid and hand-tighten the ring around them. Be sure the top of the jar and underside of the ring are clean to get a good seal. Put them in the canner and keep them covered with at least 1 inch of constant boiling water. Process the jars in a boiling-water bath for 15 minutes for 8 oz and pints. You will need to adjust the time if your altitude is different than sea level – it will tell you on the packaging for the lids how many minutes to add depending on your altitude.
Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed. Just press in the center with your finger. If it pops up and down, it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. If they have successfully sealed you can store the salsa in your pantry until you’re ready to eat it.
Enjoy your fresh salsa with some tortilla chips! My new favorite are multi grain chips by FoodShouldTasteGood. I have purchased them at Costco.
Cost/Time: Is it worth it to can? I decided yes! I already had my jars from making strawberry jam in the past, so that cost wasn’t added into it. In the end the cost was less than $2 per jar. It would cost even less, if we had been able to use fresh garden tomatoes. I am planning on that for next year. I have received many compliments from friends who loved the salsa.
3/19/09 This was added to the Life as Mom recipe swap: Hot & Spicy