Thursday, October 4, 2012

Homemade Canned Salsa

Summer is officially over. The howling wind and my yard covered in leaves confirm it. The bright side is that I have several pounds of fresh, home-grown produce to show for the end of the season.


Specifically, tomatoes.

I wasn't sure what to do with them, as I can only eat so many slices of toast-with-butter-and-sliced-tomatoes-and-salt-and-pepper (a family favourite). But I knew I wanted to can some this year, as I had never canned tomatoes before, and I wanted to be able to enjoy that sweet taste of summer in the middle of cold friggin Alberta winter.
So, I made a tomato sauce!
I cored all the tomatoes, made a small X on the bottom and placed in simmering water for a few seconds. Peeled all the skins off, roughly chopped and simmered them uncovered, in a large pot for about 40 minutes. I had a sterile can all ready to go, poured the sauce in, put the lid and ring on and then...

...remembered that I don''t really like tomato sauce.
So I put it in my fridge for a day while I thought up something better to do with it.

What's made out of tomatoes, is usually canned, would be good in the middle of winter and that I actually like??


I love salsa. When I was a kid, my Dad always had a giant jug of salsa and some tortilla chips somewhere nearby. And my Mom would make the best Salsa Cruda (until I started making it, that is). Also, my partner is Mexican. Which, though cliché and somewhat of a generalization, means he loves salsa too.

So why not combine my dad's store bought, always-on-hand salsa with my mom's fresh, spicy, homemade goodness? El Señor and I can have summertime tasting, spicy homemade salsa in the middle of January without leaving the house!

And so, without further ado, I give you:

Homemade Canned Salsa

4 pounds tomatoes (or so) [to be honest I didn't measure]
1 red & 1 green bell pepper
2 whole serrano chillies (could use 3 jalapeño, 1 habanero or whatever you prefer)
1 medium red onion, chopped
4 chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
5 cloves garlic
1/2 cup vinegar (I used a combination of my homemade mango vinegar -recipe to follow- and white vinegar) [I didn't measure this either]
1/2 cup tomato puree (or 1/3 cup tomato paste if you want a thicker salsa) [or this]
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
2 Tablespoons salt (canning, sea, whatever) [I didn't measure any of the spices, so really, here's hoping that you get the same salsa as me!]

Peel and chop tomatoes and place them in a large pot to simmer uncovered, stirring frequently, for 40 minutes.Seed and coarsely chop peppers. Place all peppers, chillies, onions, cilantro, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until somewhat smooth (you still want some chunks and texture), then add to tomatoes. Add all remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes. Ladle into hot, sterile jars, leaving 1/2" head space. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath (make sure you understand the basics of canning before you begin, and follow the directions for the brand of cans you're using).

This recipe makes 6 1/2 cups of salsa.
Adapted from: luluthebaker.
(I'll add some pictures of the salsa when I open the jars, promise!)

I had about half a cup left over after filling the cans, so I just put it in a bowl. I left it in my fridge for a day to let the flavours mingle. Guess what? Those flavours mingled, got married, had a baby and named it YUM! (I don't know what that means, but we're going with it).
It looked like store-bought canned salsa; slightly thick and chunky, but tasted way better! The surplus of cilantro and spices give it an extra burst of flavour, and it wasn't too vinegar-ey. I had used a combination of small and large tomatoes, and the small ones gave it a delicious fresh sweetness that I know will be appreciated come winter. My friends who discovered it in the fridge also gave it high praise and, unfortunately for me and El Señor, ate it all.

Now I just have to perfect the homemade tortilla chip!
Buen provecho!

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