Daring Cooks: Food Preservation and Fresh Tomato Salsa

 The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

The recipes John suggested to make and preserve were apple butter and a tomato bruschetta. I contemplated making apple butter, but as both of these recipes were for things that usually top bread or toast – something that is a rarity in our household – I opted for something that would be more popular and useful for our family in the coming months. When I visited the farmers market and scored a huge cardboard box full of “sauce-ready” (meaning less-than-perfect) tomatoes for $10, the deal was sealed. I was going to can salsa.

I have prepared salsa many times on the fly for meals during the summer months. With fresh tomatoes, jalapenos, and herbs, how could I not? But when winter comes, I’m forced to buy jars of salsa from the grocery. While I’ve found some decent brands, nothing compares to salsa made with ingredients at the peak of freshness. I have not spent a great deal of time canning in the past (I’ve made pickles and jam, but that’s about it), but I had the general process down, so I got started.

First step was roasting some of the vegetables. While it’s not mandatory to do so, roasting the veggies gives the salsa more depth and an oh-so-subtle sweetness. This took a while, as I had a lot of tomatoes. But the blitz in the food processor was easy (gotta love food processors!), and then my attention was turned to canning the salsa. And of course, the best part – listening to the cooling jars for that satisfying “pop” of the lids, ensuring that my jars were sealed and I was successful!

This recipe is for a large quantity of salsa (it makes about a gallon!), but of course you can cut it back to suit your needs, and of course, you don’t have to can it. It’s excellent eaten as soon as it’s made. Of course, if you do choose to can, you’ll have that satisfaction of knowing that in the gray, chilly days of February, you can open a jar and taste the freshness of summer all over again.

Fresh Tomato Salsa

25-30 large tomatoes

22-25 garlic cloves, unpeeled

7 large yellow onions, cut in half and unpeeled

10 hot chiles, such as jalapenos or serranos

Juice of 2 large limes

1/3 c cilantro, chopped

1 t ground cumin

1/2 t ground chipotle chile powder

2-3 t salt (to taste)

Preheat the broiler in the oven and place the top rack about 6-8 inches below the burner. Line rimmed baking sheets with foil. Place tomatoes, garlic cloves, halved onions, and peppers on the baking sheets and broil, turning as necessary, until skins are blackened and tomatoes and peppers are soft. Remove and allow to cool. (You will likely have to do this in batches) Remove skins from garlic cloves and onions, and remove skins and seeds from jalapenos. Place vegetables in food processor and process until no large chunks remain. (If you like a chunkier salsa, you might like to pre-chop the vegetables so that you don’t have to process in the food processor so long. We like a thinner salsa, so I just let it nearly puree the vegetables.) You will likely have to process salsa in batches as well. Place in a large bowl and add in cilantro, lime juice, and spices. Stir and taste. Add salt as needed and stir.

To can: Heat clean jars and new lids in simmering water for at least 10 minutes (this will prevent the jars from breaking and will help to sterilize the jars). Prepare the canning pot by bringing water to a near-boil. Remove the jars from the water and fill the jars with salsa, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace. Clean rims of jars well and add lids. Screw the threaded lids on the jar until fingertip tight. Lower the jars into the canning pot and make sure they are covered by the water by at least an inch or two. Bring the water to a boil and process for 12 minutes. Remove and place jars on a towel on the counter. Allow to sit and come to room temperature for 12 hours. You might hear the lids pop – this is a good thing. Check the jars to ensure they sealed properly – the lid should be concave in the center. Remove the threaded part of the lid and attempt to lift by just the lid – you should be able to lift without the lid coming off. If the lid comes off, then reprocess or refrigerate and use within a week or two.

Makes about 8 pint-sized jars of salsa.

This post is linked to Real Food Weekly.

Comments

  1. Lauren says

    I was a little bit scared of cannning so I went down the freezing route instead, but that salsa sounds fantastic. I think in the middle of winter I am going to definitely wish I had some of this salsa to get me through!

  2. says

    Wow, what a great recipe (I’m impressed). I used to do a lot of canning back in my hippie girl days, but I haven’t done much in recent years. I’ve never made salsa, but your recipe is so easy to read and your final product looks so amazing, I’m putting this on my “to do” list. I have a lot of tomatoes right now, so this is perfect timing.

    Thanks, Alta! I love this and can’t wait to give it a try.

    Melissa
    xo

  3. says

    I had plans to make salsa last week, but then didn’t get any tomatoes in my CSA box. Maybe this week. I’ve never done any actual canning. Maybe some day.

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