Tomato season is finally upon us. You have no idea how giddy this makes me. Yesterday I pulled off two Sungold cherries, two Jaune Flamme saladettes and who knows what the other red variety was. I've lost track. And my peppers are not far behind. It's time to start thinking about salsa!
It's easy to create a signature garden salsa of your own. While you can use raw vegetables, I find fire roasting is the key to incredibly flavorful canned salsa. There's nothing like opening up a jar of fire roasted tomato salsa on a Polar Votex night in January to make you feel all warm and cozy.
My tried and true canned salsa recipe works for me every year. It uses weight instead of volume for measurements. The only rule is that you DO NOT CHANGE THE RATIO of tomatoes, peppers, onions/garlic and vinegar. This recipe has strict proportions to keep it safe for canning, as everything but the tomatoes are low acid vegetables which can harbor botulism. See the USDA's recommended ratios for canning salsa for even more information. As long as you keep the total weight for each category of vegetables the same, and use all the 5% vinegar (no substitutes), you can vary the varieties of each produce, like more hot peppers for sweet, or cherry tomatoes for slicers.
If you want a thick salsa, use plum or paste tomatoes. If you like a thinner salsa, use heirlooms slicers or beefsteaks. You can also switch out tomatillos for tomatoes for a salsa verde. Feel free to change up the types and colors of peppers, too, by mixing the sweet and the hot to suit your taste. For instance poblanos have great deep flavor, especially when roasted. Sweet red and orange peppers mixed with a few habaneros make a tasty tropical salsa.
Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa Recipe
5 lbs paste tomatoes, preferably from your garden or local farmers market
2 lb mix hot & sweet peppers (adjust ratio to suit your taste)
1 lb mixed white onions with 1 head garlic (not to exceed 1 lb total)
1 cup apple cider or white vinegar (must be 5 percent acidity)
1 tbsp salt
For extra fire roasted flavor, fire up your charcoal grill. Place the whole tomatoes, peppers, skin-on onions and the whole head of garlic on the bbq until their skins are blistered and burnt. Flip the vegetables and grill them on the other side.
Remove from the bbq to rest until cool. Core the tomatoes, if necessary, and remove the stems from the peppers. Remove the peels from the onion and garlic. Weigh the remaining ingredients, and add more raw veggies to equal the total amount required for each vegetable. It's important to keep your ratios the same for safe acid levels.
In a food processor, blend all the roasted vegetables to desired consistency of chunkiness. Add the puree, vinegar and salt to a pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer the salsa for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the salsa is simmering, prepare a hot water bath. Heat pint jars and lids. Ladle hot salsa into clean, hot pint jars, leaving 1/2” headspace. Wipe rims and add the lids. Process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes at a full rolling boil. Yields 6-7 pints.