It’s farmer’s market season…! Hoorah! Sadly, I have to report that there are no farmer’s markets nearby the Ryan and I, so I am stuck buying grocery store produce. 😦 But that doesn’t stop me from making a kickass batch of homemade salsa.
Last week, for about three days, hell itself came to Maryland and we reached ridiculous temperatures of over 100 degrees with the heat index (don’t laugh, midwesterners, I’d take your dry heat over our 105 heat index with 88% humidity any day). As soon as I would walk outside, the air would get heavy and all of my clothes would stick to me. I couldn’t even get my hair dry with a blowdryer. Oh humidity, how you make my life miserable.
As you can imagine, this meant that the last thing I wanted to do was freaking cook hot food. I did, because dinner is pretty essential, but I wasn’t happy about it. I wanted something light, cool and snacky that wasn’t a salad. I also managed to get all of my canning supplies back from my Mom, so I decided it was the perfect opportunity to make some salsa! A friend of mine moved this past weekend and I wanted to give him a pint as a housewarming gift. I also wanted to punch him because, dude, move in the fall..it’s bloody hot!
Anyway, I found a highly recommended recipe online at Food.com and decided to get to work. To find the original recipe, click here.
So one trip to the store later, here we are:
You will need: 6 pint jars, washed and dried. 10 cups tomatoes (I used vine tomatoes and big boy tomatoes..I think), five cups onion (I used red and yellow), 2.5 cups seeded bell peppers (one of each color for …color!), 2.5 cups of hot peppers (I had 1 pablano, I actually had 5 jalapenos and I ended up grabbing 2 habaneros..still not enough kick, either. 😦 ), 3 cloves minced garlic (you know us, I used like 5), 3 tsp of salt, Cilantro (I used an ungodly amount because I’m a cilantro freak) and I added the juice of 2 limes. I also added some cayenne and cumin while the pot was cooking because, what the heck?
I forgot to add them to my photo, but you will also need a 6 oz can of tomato paste and 1.25 cups of cider vinegar – I backed down to 1 cup because I read that the cider vinegar can make the salsa too sweet.
If you’ve never canned anything before, it’s a super fabulous idea (and kind of the rule) to warm your jars in the oven at 200 degrees in about 3-4 inches of water. This helps the jars not crack when a) hot food is poured into them and b) they are dunked into boiling water in a water bath canner.
The same should be done for the lids – sadly, I had to use my two bread pans with 3 sets of lids each because my small brownie pan was compromised by some fudge I thought I’d try – it wasn’t that good, but don’t let chocolate or peanut butter go to waste, you know?
Be ready – if you’re doing this on your stove, the water bath canner will need a LOT of water, and therefore take a LONG time to heat…it takes a lot of energy to bring that much water to a rolling boil, so get fire under it early. On the other burner, I have a 5 quart pot I brought to a boil and then next to that is a bowl of ice cold water.
Blanch your tomatoes in boiling water for 1-3 minutes each until the skin has cracked.
Once the skin is popped, dunk the tomato into ice cold water to stop the cooking process. The split skin makes the tomatoes easy to peel.
Peel all of your tomatoes and set them aside to cool.
In the mean time, I chop and set aside your bell peppers, jalapenos, pablano, habanero, onions, garlic, cilantro and lime juice in a bowl.
A word to the wise – wear gloves when you work with peppers. The oils will give you the equivalent of chemical burns on your skin if you are not used to working with them.
Finally, chop your tomatoes and add them, all of your veggies, salt and the cider vinegar to a pot and allow to simmer to the desired consistency (I let mine simmer down quite a bit, as I like my salsa thicker).
Once your salsa is the desired consistency, stir in the 6 oz can of tomato paste. Then, add the salsa to the warmed jars and wipe the rims of the jar before putting on the lid and tightening the neck band. Note to self: I need a funnel. That made a hot mess.
Either turn your heat down or pour ice cold water into your water bath canner to allow the water to cool enough to add the jars without shattering them. Add each jar to the water bath and then bring the water back to a boil. Process at a rolling boil for 15 minutes – do NOT start the timer for the 15 minutes until your water has reached a constant, rolling boil.
Remove your jars and allow to sit and cool for 24 hours. Test the seals to make sure they took. Then, go buy some tortillas and tear it up, this salsa is beyond yummy!
**Since you’re working with such a large batch of liquid, if you want a kick in your salsa, feel free to add any kind of peppers you like – I will definitely be adding more habaneros to this next time!**