Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tomato Salsa For Canning

Pin It Now!
Tomato salsa
Tomato salsa

Making tomato salsa for canning is a lot like trying to solve the childhood classic "The Three Little Bears".  It is either too hot, too mild, or just right and there is no pleasing everyone all the time.  With a family that ranges from something-barely-spicier-than-ketchup to habaneros-are-for-beginners in taste it can be challenging to make salsa you can feel confident about having on hand year round.  This recipe works because it is a flavorful foundation that is delicious on its own and it can easily be adjusted at eating time with the addition of some fresh jalapenos, hot sauce, cilantro, roasted corn, black beans, or a squeeze of lime to brighten it up.

Roasting tomatoes
Roasting tomatoes

My salsa is based off of roasted and peeled tomatoes and peppers.  I do not like peeling tomatoes. Seriously, I really really do not like peeling tomatoes!  I do like the flavor of roasted tomatoes and I love how the skin of one will pull right off, so that is how I prepare them.  This lets me get the 14 cups of diced peeled tomatoes, with the juice, without making myself nuts.  I think the flavor of a roasted tomato is significantly improved, bringing out sweetness and richness.  I slice the tomatoes in half and roast them under the broiler, turning the pan to get an even char on all of the fruit.

Roasting peppers
Roasting Anaheim peppers

Roasting peppers is a hands on activity and for the little kids tons of fun to see.  I place the Anaheim peppers right over the flame on our gas cook top, turning and re-positioning to make sure every green area is blackened.  Any area of the pepper that you do not char well will not peel - and the peel on the pepper is surprisingly chewy and tough.  Take the time to blacken it well either over a flame or under the broiler and you will be far happier with the final result.  Pop the charred peppers into an air tight container or zip lock bag and let them cool until easy to handle.  This will let the peppers steam and help the peels come right off.

Last, but not least!  It is the acid in the recipe that makes it safe for home canning, bottled lime juice.  It is important that you use bottled lime or lemon juice in this recipe, not fresh squeezed, so that the acidity is the proper level.  Tomatoes are pretty acidic but onions, garlic and peppers are not and the bottled lime juice is the key for home canning.  If you alter the recipe make sure you adjust the ratio of tomatoes/vegetables/bottled lime juice exactly right, maintaining the same ratios.  The spices you can alter without worry to fit your tastes.

Tomato Salsa for Canning
This tomato salsa will be a favorite year round, pleasing everyone.
  • 14 cups plum tomatoes, roasted, peeled, diced with the juice (I use Roma)
  • 2 cups Anaheim peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded, diced
  • 2 1/2 cups onion, diced
  • 3 whole jalapenos, seeded, finely diced (leave seeds of one for 'medium', seeds of 2 for 'hot')
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup bottled lime juice (or lemon)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbs kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

  1. Roast your tomatoes under the broiler or on the grill, charring the skin. If you you are roasting under the broiler, slice them in half and put them cut side down. If using a grill, roast them whole. Once charred and cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and roughly chop the tomatoes, keeping the juice as well. Set aside.
  2. Roast the Anaheim peppers over a flame or under the broiler, charring them all over. Transfer the hot charred peppers to an airtight container or plastic bag and let them rest until cool enough to handle. Peel off the skin, remove seeds and veins, and chop. Set aside.
  3. Prepare your jars, lids, rings and canner. If you are new to water bath canning, or it has been a while, be sure to refresh your skills from a reliable and official source to guide you through this process. My tips and tricks can be found here.
  4. In a large non-reactive pot combine all of the salsa ingredients over a medium-high flame. Bring to a boil and then simmer together for 10 minutes.
  5. Fill your hot jars with the salsa leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove any bubbles and adjust the headspace one last time.
  6. Clean the rim of the jar thoroughly, apply your hot lid, and then the ring. Tighten the ring just until "finger tip tight", not too tight, but not loose either.
  7. Process your jars in a hot water bath for 15 minutes measuring the time after the water returns to a full boil. Adjust your processing time as necessary depending on your elevation.
  8. Remove your jars from the water bath to a cloth covered counter. Let them cool completely for 12-24 hours before testing the seals. Any jars that do not seal properly are still perfectly good to eat, just keep them in the refrigerator.
  9. Store your salsa in a cool dark place. This salsa can be eaten immediately, no wait time necessary.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8 - 9 pints
Last, but not least, if you are brand new to water bath canning be sure to follow best practices outlined by reliable sites such as the National Center for Home Food Preservation or the University of Missouri Extension. Home canning is something anyone can do!