Yes You Can! Make Your Own Salsa

Wednesday, September 5
by Robin



We've been making our own salsa for more than 12 years now.  It's our late summer tradition.  We've only missed doing this 2 years.

The first lost year was when we had a newborn with colic who kept us (literally!) on our toes for 3 months straight.  (He'd cry pretty much constantly unless we held him upright and danced on our tiptoes.  That left no energy for anything else, let alone salsa-making.)

The second salsa-less year was when we lived away from home while people tore off our roof and added a second storey.  Just as the tomatoes were ripening we were moving back home and getting settled in again (not to mention finishing a lot of the work ourselves to save money).

Those stories have nothing to do with salsa.  Sorry 'bout that.

We've been making this same recipe, with only slight modifications, for these past dozen years.  This salsa was our second stab at teaching ourselves the art of canning.  (Our first try was corn relish.  It was tasty, but not nearly as useful as salsa.  I can name dozens great recipes that include salsa.  Corn relish?  Not so much.)

This salsa is fabulous!  Yes, we are completely immodest about it.  It's tastier and cheaper than store bought.  Yesterday we made 17 pint jars.  Our total cost for ingredients (including lids) was $20.74.  That's only $1.22 a jar!

It's also healthier than store-bought.  It has no added salt, just the little bit in the tomato paste.
 

One of my favourite food blogs, Simple Bites has a good basic Canning 101.  If you aren't sure that you will do it again, borrow the basic equipment from a friend or family member that cans.  We borrowed our equipment the first couple times, and we quickly realized we wanted to invest in our own.

Canning is not nearly so hard as it seems.  It's just simple steps using simple equipment.  Give it a try. 

 

Might I suggest our Salsa recipe to get you started?





Simple Salsa (Yes, you can!)

makes 5 pint (500mL) jars

Ingredients:

8 jalapeno peppers
1kg (or 2.2 lbs) tomatoes (we like Roma)
2 cups onions, coarsely chopped
1 cup green bell peppers, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 can tomato paste
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped and loosely packed
1/2 tsp ground cumin

Tip: You're gonna wanna bag of chips to eat some of this salsa fresh...



Steps:

  1. Wearing rubber gloves, remove the seeds and finely chop the jalapenos.  (Don't touch your eyes -  or any part of you for that matter - it'll burn!)
  2. Prepare the rest of the vegetables (as above).
  3. Combine all the ingredients into a large stainless steel or enamel pot.  Bring to a boil and boil gently for about 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, get ready to can:
    1. Have your clean jars ready to go.  Keep the screw bands (or rings) nearby.
    2. Heat your canning lids in hot water (to soften the sealing compound).
    3. Fill your boiling water canner about half full and get it simmering on the stove. 
  5. Ladle salsa into jar within 1/2 inch (1 cm) of the top rim.  (This is called "head space".)
  6. Wipe rim of jar to remove any stickiness.  (Food left on the rim could spoil your seal i.e. ruin your precious jar of salsa.)
  7. Centre the canning lid on the jar.  Apply the screw band until just fingertip tight (i.e. don't use all your might.)
  8. Place jar in boiling water canner.  Repeat until all your salsa is in jars.
  9. Cover canner.  Return water to boil.  Boil your jars for 20 minutes.  (If you live above 1,000 above sea level, you'll need to add more time.  Bernardin has a good description and chart here.)
  10. Remove jars.  Let cool in place for 24 hours.  Sealed lids will curve down.  (You should also hear that satisfying "pop!" sound that tells you that you did it!)
  11. Store in a cool, dark, place.

Tip: If your canner isn't full, shove in extra empty jars to  keep your full ones from tipping.

 

Here's a Free Printable (or Tablet-friendly) Recipe for you to use, click here:





Tip: On hot days we like to do our cooking and canning outside.  To keep the heat outside (and to taunt the neighbours with the delicious smells...

 

 Have you canned anything before?  What's your favourite thing to make?

 






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