I passed a food milestone yesterday. A friend of my mothers came through town last week bearing an armload of a gift: my mother’s old hot water canner. (Basically, a big black speckled pot with a metal rack inside.)
My late-summer dreams of salsas, jams, and chutneys are inching ever closer. Yesterday, with a little help from Central New York farmers, I canned for the first time.
With a few weeks of research under my belt and the fear of botulism clinging fiercely to my hope, I set out to make a batch of salsa worthy of chips and tostadas. The great stuff at the stores is well over 5$, and the cheaper stuff is barely dressed-up ketchup. It just wasn’t worth it anymore.
I scoured the internet for recipes, finally settling on one from FoodieMama.com. I wanted chunks of tomato and good fresh peppers, and despite the recipe writer’s disdain for spelling and grammar, this one seemed to fit the bill.
A lazy hour at the farmer’s market outfitted me perfectly for my first adventure in jars: a flat of pint jars for $10, an assortment of peppers for $4, and tomatoes to last a lifetime for $9.
Equipped with my bounty, my canner, and some 80’s music, I proceeded to make six and a half pints of salsa in an afternoon. We polished off the half pint with some locally-made tortilla chips, feeling like good slow-foodies with every crunchy bite. The only adjustments I’ll make next time will be to add a little more heat; it turns out those little Serrano peppers weren’t as hot as they felt on my fingertips!
The next day I checked the jars and each one of them had sealed properly. My salsa not only tasted great, but it would keep for months without crowding my fridge.
Farmer’s Market (Chunky) Salsa
7 pounds of tomatoes (half Romas, half regular)
*3 – 3½ cups of peppers: Bell, Anaheim, Poblano, Jalapeno, and Serrano chili peppers (see end note for different spice-yielding amounts)
2 cups chopped onion
1 bunch fresh cilantro, washed and coarsely chopped
4-6 garlic cloves, minced (depending on how garlicky you like your salsa!)
½ cup white vinegar (5%)
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tsp dried cumin (opt)
1 tsp dried oregano (opt)
1 can of black beans
- Wash and dice the tomatoes, measuring 14-15 cups. Let drain. Using gloves, seed and chop the peppers.
- When the tomatoes have drained for about 10 minutes, add all the ingredients to a large stockpot, bring to a boil, and simmer until it’s a slightly thinner consistency than you want the end product to be. (I simmered for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.) While you wait for it to come to a boil, sterilize your jars in the boiling-water canner and your rings and lids in a saucepan of simmering water.
- Ladle the salsa into the hot jars using a funnel, leaving ½ inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims and adjust the lids and rings on snugly. Process the jars in a boiling-water bath for 15 minutes for 8 oz and pints and 20 minutes for quarts. Start the timer when water has reacquired a boil, keep the lid on, and make sure the water is boiling the whole time.
- At the end of the processing time, turn off the heat and let the cans cool in the water for 5 minutes. Remove the jars using the jar lifter, and cool on racks or a think towel. Wait till the next morning to check for correct seal. If not sealed, put in the refrigerator, and use within two weeks.
*The mix I used: 1 Red Bell (sweet), 1 Italian long green (not hot), 3 Hungarian (barely hot), 1 Poblano (little hot), 3 Jalapeno (medium hot) and 1 Serrano (very hot) chili pepper. Click on the links to learn more about each one. My salsa was barely medium-hot. To modify the spiciness of this salsa, simply increase the ratio of the hot peppers to the sweet peppers.