Canning salsa can seem daunting when you read about how low-acidic foods pose all these food safety dangers. Sure, tomatoes are relatively safe to can, but what happens if you add peppers, hot chiles, onions and garlic to make salsa? If you follow the basic guidelines from the National Center for Home Food Preservation, you know you have a safe product.
The key, I've found, is to use a scale to weigh all your ingredients. This ensures that you have the right, safe ratio of acid and low-acid vegetables. There's actually flexibility in these ingredients if you follow one simple rule - Don't Change the Ratios! The ratio of acid vegetables to non-acid vegetables must remain the same. Also, the 5 percent acidity vinegar is required. You may change vinegar, but do not substitute lemon or lime juice. OK, that was two rules.
What you CAN do is change out the tomatoes for any kind of tomatoes or tomatillos (although paste-type tomatoes will give you the thickest salsa.) Peppers and chiles can be of any kind or flavor. You can use lots of garlic and a little onion, or lots of cilantro or none. This salsa could even be all yellow with yellow heirloom tomatoes, sweet peppers and yellow hot Hungarian chiles. Or make chile verde green salsa with green tomatoes or tomatillos and Hatch green chiles. My favorite is the all-black salsa with black krim tomatoes, black sweet peppers and black jalepenos. Cool!
Follow these rules and you'll get a great tasting, safe canned salsa. Since this is a basic recipe, I'm making prep as simple as possible. You may peel the tomatoes if you wish, but here I am just coring them. Get as fancy with prep as you like. Follow the usual precautions of properly hot water bath processing and checking your lids for a proper seal, and you'll be just fine.
• 5 pounds fresh tomatoes
• 2 pounds fresh sweet pepper, hot chile combination
• 1 pound onions, garlic, cilantro combination
• 1 cup apple cider vinegar
• 1 tbsp salt
• 1 tsp ancho chile powder (optional)
1. Core and seed the sweet peppers. Core hot peppers, but only seed them if you want to reduce the heat. If you like mild salsa, use jalapeños. If you like hot salsa, trade out as many hot chiles for sweet peppers as you like. Put them in a food processor and chop them fine. Check the total weight of the chopped pepper/chile combo to be sure you at 2 lbs or a bit less.
2. Peel and roughly chop the onion, as many garlic cloves as you'd like, and a handful of cilantro. Check the total weight to be sure it's one pound.
3. Core the tomatoes and quarter them. Drop them in a food processor and chop to desired level of chunky or smoothness. Check that the final weight is 5 pounds.
4. Combine all the vegetables with the vinegar, salt and chile powder in a stock pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes once it starts boiling.
5. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a canner pot with rack large enough to hold 8 pint jars. Wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water, rinse and set aside on a dishtowel or rack.
6. When the water is boiling and the salsa has simmered for 10 minutes, fill the pint jars with salsa, leaving 1/2" head space at the top. Clean the rims with a towel dipped in hot water, then top with the canning lids until finger tight. Lower the jars into the canner until it's full. Bring the water to a boil and process the salsa for 15 minutes (I go 5 minutes longer than recommended.) Remove to a rack to cool completely.
7. Once cool, remove the rings from all the jars and check your seals. If a jar did not seal properly, reprocess it for 15 minutes or store it in the refrigerator.
8. Store jars in a cool, dark place without the rings, in a single layer. Do not stack jars on top of each other as this may hide defective jar lid seals. Use within one year.
Tammy Kimbler is the blogger of One tomato, two tomato. A cultivator at heart, Tammy’s passions lie with food, preservation, gardening and connecting to her local community through blogging and urban agriculture. She eats well and love to feed others as often as possible. She currently resides with her family in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
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