I spent the labor day weekend with my family, and came home to West Virginia with about 3 dozen pints of salsa.
Delicious. Fresh. Summer in a jar.
My mom and one of my best friends and I spent about 4 hours picking, chopping, stirring, mixing, cooking and canning on Saturday.
Here are the ingredients for a tested recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation
- 7 quarts peeled, cored, chopped paste tomatoes
- 4 cups seeded, chopped long green chiles
- 5 cups chopped onion
- ½ cup seeded, finely chopped jalapeño peppers
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 cups bottled lemon or lime juice
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin (optional)
- 3 tablespoons oregano leaves (optional)
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro (optional)
We started by gathering the necessary produce- including picking peppers straight off the plant.
The next step was to chop everything. Be sure to wear plastic gloves when chopping hot peppers- capsaicin is a potent compound!
After removing the skins from the tomatoes by submerging them in boiling water for about twenty seconds and then dropping them into ice water, we removed the pulp and seeds with our fingers and cut the tomatoes into chunks.
Chopping peppers by hand keeps a slightly chunkier texture, although we used the food processor for onions to minimize the tear-inducing effects of this powerful vegetable.
For a bit of background on why cutting onions makes you cry, onions and other members of the allium family, are odorless until they are cut or bruised. Slicing open an onion causes an enzymatic reaction that releases a distinctive-smelling sulfur compound. Pyruvic acid is also formed, contributing to the pungent odor of an onion and irritates tear ducts.
Combine ingredients in a large pot, except cumin, oregano and cilantro, and heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture boils. Then reduce the heat to a simmer for 10 minutes. Add in the spices, and simmer for another 20 minutes. Pack into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe, and put on canning lids, and process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath for altitudes less than 1000 ft.
For more detailed instructions on water bath canning, refer here.
Salsa is a great way to add flavor to many dishes- including omelets, rice, tacos, and baked potatoes. Two tablespoons of this salsa is only about 9 calories, and 75 mg of sodium. Compare that to the 20 calories and 160 mg of sodium in 1 tablespoon of ketchup (or 40 calories and 320 mg sodium in 2 tablespoons if you eat that much), and you can see that salsa is a great choice nutritionally.