Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How to Make and Bottle Salsa

If your garden is giving you a plethora of tomatoes and peppers, how about canning some salsa for the winter months? If your family loves salsa, finding some inexpensive tomatoes and canning some salsa is a great way to stock up.

Ingredients: green peppers, onions, jalapenos, sugar, apple cider vinegar, salt and cayenne pepper. Are we missing something?

Oh yes. Tomatoes. Make sure you have a lug of tomatoes. A lug is roughly translated to be 30 pounds of 'maters.

First up is to round up some help. With all canning, the more hands you have to help, the better. Especially during cleanup! This particular batch of salsa is brought to you by the unwilling hands of my teenage siblings.

Chop up all your veggies. I never chop up jalapenos without gloves. I did once. And I accidentally touched my eye. I will never chop up jalapenos again without gloves. And glasses. And a good nights sleep. And a non-itchy eye.

To get the skins off the tomatoes so we can chop them, heat a big pot of boiling water and drop the tomatoes into it in small batches of 3-4 tomatoes each time.

After one minutes of boiling time, transfer the tomatoes to a sink or bowl full of ice water. There should be ice in here---but, you know, teenagers.

After this heating and cooling, the skins will easily peel off just using your fingers.

Put a rough chop on the peeled tomatoes--we just quartered them because all these veggies are going to have time to really cook down.

Then throw all the veggies you chopped, plus the spices and seasonings, into a large pot.

Simmer on the stove for four hours. Do you see how the top is mostly just liquid? Drain a few cups of the liquid off the top and chuck it. This will make our salsa a bit thicker. Yum.

The veggies will cook down, and at that point you can stick in an emulsifier and blend up the salsa a bit. If you don't have an emulsifier, you can transfer the salsa in small portions to a blender or food processor. Be careful though, because this is hot! If you like chunky salsa, leave this step out.

After your salsa has simmered for four hours, get ready to bottle. Heat your canning lids in boiling water.

And, put your bottles on a tray to catch the spills. My mom is clever like that. Ladle the salsa into the jars, leaving a 1/4 inch of head space.

Wipe off the top of the jars with a clean, damp towel. Pull a lid out of the boiling water and place on the jar. Screw on a ring, making sure it's tight.

Careful, it's hot! Turn the jars over (upside down), and let them sit overnight. Salsa is so acidic that it doesn't need to be processed in a water bath or pressure cooker.

Now you will have salsa all winter long. Or my mom will because I couldn't take glass bottles in my suitcase across the country. But I'll be thinking of this delicious salsa every time I eat scrambled eggs, burritos or open a bag of chips. Ah.

Where can I get me some cheap tomatoes?

P.S. Note: There has been some concern in the comments over the lack of processing the salsa after cooking. This recipe has been made for over 20 years without any incidence of botulism. The high levels of vinegar and tomatoes create an acidic environment which prevents the botulism toxin from being released. That being said, it is never wrong to be too careful. The Utah and Georgia extension services both recommend water-bath processing with their salsa recipes and you can check with your local extension services for more information in your area.

Also, I am "html-dumb" and can't figure out how to fix the recipe text. I hope you'll all still come back tomorrow.

Ann’s Salsa
1 lug tomatoes – peeled and chopped
1 c. sugar

1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper (add another Tbsp if you really like it hot.)
4 onions chopped
4 green peppers chopped
4 jalapenos chopped
1 c. apple cider vinegar
5 Tbsp. salt

Chop all veggies. Scald tomatoes, peel and chop. Add all veggies and other ingredients in a large pot. Simmer for 4 hours. Drain a few cups of liquid off the top. If you want a less chunky salsa, stick in the immersion blender for a couple of pulses. Pour into clean bottles and seal (put lids in boiling water for a couple of minutes first). Turn upside down until cool. Makes at least 12 pint jars. More if you don't drain the liquid off.


Emilee said...

I love making salsa, but according to extension services--salsa must be processed in a water bath or pressure canner to omit the threat of botulism.

Sena said...

You shouldn't need to pressure can salsa because even if the tomatoes used are not acidic enough, adding the vinegar gets the pH down enough so that botulism isn't a risk.

However, the upside-down method for sealing the jars is no longer recommended and you should process salsa in a waterbath canner to make sure other pathogens are killed and let the jars cool right-side up after processing so you know for sure which jars did not seal by pressing on the tops. It is less of a concern with acidic foods because if they've gone off you can tell cause they smell and taste bad. Non-acidic foods are more the concern because you can't detect botulism by smell or taste.

Flashlight Girl said...

Ditto Sena's comments. I'm kind of worried for you, really. Check with your local university extension service for appropriate canning/processing times for your area. It's the safest way. Especially since many people are reading this blog that live in different elevations, etc. Everyone please consult a canning book like the The Ball Blue Book or your local extension service. PLEASE!

Kestrel said...

I made some pico de gallo with a serrano pepper last night (ay caramba!) and accidentally touched my lips afterwards... THEY WERE ON FIRE.

I never use gloves to handle jalapenos or any pepper. After I'm finished touching/chopping/whatevering them, I pour a bit of milk onto my hands and rub it into my skin. Then I wash with soap. It works every time (at least so far) and I'm totally paranoid because I have to take my contacts out and peppers + contacts is just scary.

J♥M said...

I've canned mine this way for over 10 years and we've never gotten sick! A lot of people freak out about it! It was "the" method used long ago and for a very long time! Great post!

Mayberry said...

Mmmmmm..... Break out the chips! A "quick and dirty" salsa that has excellent flavor is simply chopped up tomatoes and chili petines, jalapenos, or habaneros, (or a combination) chopped up fine (better if ground on pestle). Tastes wonderful....

angelalois said...

Can someone tell me why I have to peel the tomatoes? Why can't I just chop them and cook them with their skins?

Abs said...

For all those who are concerned with processing (or the lack thereof) please see my added note at the end of the post.

Thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

The purpose of processing food is to cook it – like bottled peaches and tomatoes. Granted processing may kill some bacteria that is harbored in jars, but if the bottles are washed in a dishwasher and then the salsa (which has been simmering for hours and hours) is poured in, I think there is very little risk for bacterial contamination. When we are concerned about botulism (green beans, etc) we use a pressure cooker – that is really the only way clostridium botulinum can be killed. So I think everyone is really overreacting.

Kestrel said...

I was wondering the same thing angela. Peeling tomatoes seems like such a pain.

Andrea said...

I agree with what the extensions says... but... A lot of the recipes (and methods) My Grandma, and my mom & now I do are no longer deemed safe. But I love the recipes for sure. I converted on the method (water bath). But I will not give up on the recipe - because in the recent past the government (FDA, extensions just adopted) deemed it inappropriate. Don't get me started in what they say corporate canneries/food processors do & IS deemed safe.. But my mom's tomato soup (water bathed with Butter & Flour....) I will not give up. I'm still alive after 34 years of it - so far so good! My grandma canned jelly with the above method. Personally I think it's safe on high - acid foods, but has a higher fail rate (bad seals). to each their own.

Kendall and Melissa said...

My family didn't really like canned salsas since they had that vinegar taste, so we actually bottled tomatoes and then seperately bottled peppers/onions/jalapenos. One pint of the pepper mix and a quart of tomatoes can then be mixed with a few seasonings and you get an almost fresh tasting salsa that is food storage ready! Yummy. Thanks for all of your great info. You guys are amazing!

Anonymous said...

Can I use brown sugar?

ValerieP said...

I was excited to see this recipe and the process for bottling it! My family has been bottling stewed tomatoes and salsa for over 70 years or more using just this method with only one jar go bad that I (or my mother) can ever remember and I'm almost 50! I made some today as a matter of fact and each and every bottle sealed. I place them upside down until cool enough to touch and then stand upright. As I was cleaning up the kitchen I began to hear the distinct "ting" of the sealing lids! One thing we do that you do not mention is skim the pink/white foam off the top as it comes up. The more acidic the tomato the more foam you have.... but we skim it off and toss it just like you say to do the clear liquid that rises. To my mind, if it's tried and true for this many years with no deaths or incidents of botulism then I can see no reason to change the way we do things! I have noticed that as we migrate to more modern ways we are getting more issues with our food such as salmonella, e-coli and the like..... Thanks for posting! I can't wait to use the rest of these tomatoes for salsa!

ValerieP said...

One other item that I do now that we didn't have the equipment to do years ago is that I wash all of the bottles in the diswasher using hi temp wash, sani-rinse and hot dry cycle... just as the dry cycle is finishing the tomatoes are ready to go in the hot jars! The seals are boiled and placed on the jars just as you describe....

Polly B. said...

I can my salsa by bringing the recipe to a full boil and then putting it in hot jars with hot lids and turning it upside down for 30 minutes and then turning upright until cool. Been doing this for years. Have never had a bad one and they ALWAYS seal. But I was deleted off a canning facebook page over this method. Oh well, I will continue to do it this tried and tested method. Works everytime!