Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Canning Salsa

I, being the logical person that I am, and knowing that I have infinite time available with an almost one year old, decided that it would be best to make favors for the adults coming to my almost one year old's first birthday party.  Since he loves Mexican food (what baby doesn't?), we decided to go with a fiesta theme.  And the adult favor?  Why, home made salsa, of course! 

I will say that this salsa is pretty darn good.  I took a pint to my aunt's, and my husband and I barely even got any it was gone so fast.  That being said, it is extremely time consuming, labor intensive, and requires a TON of ingredients.  If this sounds like something right up your alley, read on.

Until Google told me, I had no idea that salsa recipes had to be FDA approved-- or at least the tomato-vegetable ratios have to be.  I used two sites to guide me: one and two.  Here is what I came up with:

*If you are new to canning, you may want to check out some more detailed instructions on my Pickles or Jammin' posts.

J'adore: Fiesta Salsa

14 cups peeled, seeded, chopped plum tomatoes
2 1/2 cups diced onion
2 1/4 cups diced/minced peppers
           My pepper breakdown was as follows:
           1/2 a green bell pepper
           1/2 a red bell pepper
           3 jalepenos
           2 Hungarian wax peppers
           2 long, green chillies, medium heat (can't remember the name)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup lemon juice from a bottle, not fresh squeezed
1 Tbsp salt (add 1 tsp. at a time; 3 tsp. may be too much salt for you; it almost was for me)
1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper
1 Tbsp minced, fresh oregano
5 Tbsp minced, fresh cilantro

You'll need at least 15 pounds of tomatoes to get those 14 cups. Bring a pot of water to a boil, and prepare another bowl with ice water.  Put a colander/strainer in a second bowl to the side.  Slice a small X in the bottom of each of your tomatoes.  (I'm assuming you've washed them first.)  Put your scored tomatoes in the boiling water for 30-60 seconds.  Remove them with a slatted spoon, and put them in the ice water.  Remove from the ice water, peel away skin, cut in half across, not longways, and scoop the seeds out into your colander/strainer.  You may also want to remove the tough cores.  Ahh, you'll need a third bowl or a food processor bowl to put your processed tomatoes in.  Repeat with the rest of your tomatoes.  Dice your prepared tomatoes or pulse them in the food processor until you have the consistency you want.  

Once you've gotten all of your tomatoes prepped, dice or mince your onion, peppers, and herbs.  I pulsed everything but the onions in the food processor but separately so that I could measure the appropriate quantities.

Using a large sauce pot, bring your tomatoes to a simmer.  Add the other ingredients and return to a simmer.  Adjust the spices and herbs according to your taste, but you can't adjust the tomato/onion/pepper ratios.  You may change the types of peppers, but you'll need to have 2 1/4 cups total.  We did a lot of taste testing by scooping small amounts of the salsa into a bowl and adding ingredients before I put them in the big pot.  We decided that cumin made it too cuminy, and I wanted a fresh tasting salsa, so we skipped it.  We also skipped the chili powder for a similar reason.  The instructions on one of the links above says to let it simmer for 30 minutes.  Let me tell you, mine simmered for way longer than that while I was trying to get 6,000 other things accomplished.

This recipe made 16 half pints and 2 pints, so 10 pints total.  I liked the squat jars for gifts because they're more visually appealing (i.e. cuter).  I processed the jars for 15 minutes a batch in the boiling water bath.  Again, if you haven't canned before, please do some reading up on it.

I almost forgot: as an added bonus, keep the tomato juice you caught in your second bowl.  Scrape everything through the strainer so that you're left with only the seeds.  At my house, the seeds and skins go in the compost which is why you see that white yogurt container in the picture.  Drink the juice, if you like tomato juice, or you can chop up some basil in it and freeze it to add to soups and other recipes later on.