Monday, September 19, 2011

My new salsa recipe

The garden is overflowing with tomatoes and hot peppers.  So that means it's time to be making and canning salsa.  I have three different recipes that I have made in the past.  Yesterday I decided to combine the best of all three and crank up the hot peppers, since I like may salsa pretty hot.

Here's the finished product.

Here's how to make it.


This makes eight quarts, seven to preserve for later and one for right away.  You will also have about a quart and a half of spicy tomato juice.

I started with 24 lbs. of heirloom tomatoes, many different colors and types.  I measured as I worked so that I could keep my proportions if the recipe turned out well.  All who have tasted it have given it high marks.  So anyway, my 24 lbs. of tomatoes yielded 36 cups of peeled and diced tomatoes, after draining.

Set up your work space – wash ten quart jars with hot soapy water and set aside.  Get out your cold pack canner and fill about a third full with water.  Place your lids and rings in a pan large enough to hold all of them with at least an inch of water over the top of them.

Wash and dry your funnel, jar lifter and lid magnet.  You can buy these items in a kit if you don't already have them. They come in a kit with all three pieces, and some have a fourth piece for making sure you have all of the air bubbles out of the jar before sealing.  Ball Utensil Set For Preserving And Canning - 4 Piece is available at Kmart.  Meijer's has a lot of canning supplies and they probably have them there as well.

Put a large pan of water on stove and bring to a boil.  Place a large bowl of ice water on the counter near the pan of boiling water, along with a slotted spoon.  You will need a very sharp paring knife and a medium bowl for the peels, cores and any bad spots you cut out of the tomatoes.  Also, I keep a small bucket nearby to dump the bowls of peels into.  Set a two-cup glass measuring cup in your work area.

Set a large strainer over a stock pot to strain the tomato pieces, especially if you are using tomatoes other than paste tomatoes, since they are a little too juicy.  I like my salsa to be pretty chunky, so I drained mine.   I'll tell you what to do with that juice at the end of this recipe.

Lastly, put an extra large stockpot on the stove for cooking your salsa before bottling it.  It should be about a three gallon pot, must be at least 2-1/2 gallons to hold everything.  If you don't have one that big, then use two.  But put everything into a large pan (a clean plastic dishpan will work) so that the ingredients are well distributed before putting into the two separate pots.

Okay, so let's begin.  Wash and drain your tomatoes as you go - I put about a fourth of them at a time into a sink of water, then take a few at a time out of the water to drain.

Your water is boiling on the stove.  Get the timer out, since you don't want mushy tomatoes, and you only need them in the boiling water for one minute to loosen the skins.  It's worth the bother, since it is hard to estimate one minute when you are working on so many things at once!  Put about six to eight tomatoes into the boiling water and set your timer for one minute.  When it beeps, put the tomatoes directly into the ice water, put another set of tomatoes into the boiling water, them start peeling the ones from the ice water.  I chop them very roughly once peeled and put directly into the two-cup measure.  When the measuring cup is full, I put the tomatoes into the strainer to drain a bit.  I also write down on a paper that I have now done two cups.

Unless you can work a lot faster than I can, you will have to turn down the boiling water every now and then to catch up, and to put more tomatoes into the wash water in the sink, to empty the bowl with peels into the bucket, and all that stuff.

Once the tomatoes have drained a bit, they go into your cooking pot.  I measure again, since that is the final measure.  You will always lose a little due to the draining.  So keep track of the number of cups you scoop out of the drainer and put into the pot.  For my recipe, and to get the same proportions, you will need 36 cups of drained tomato chunks going into the pot.

Once the tomatoes are in the pot, you need to add the following:
  • ¼ C. sea salt
  • 2 T. chili powder (a good brand – if you are using discount chili powder, then you probably need to double this amount)
  • 2 T. toasted and ground cumin.  I think it is worth the extra bother to toast the seeds in an iron skillet until turning color, and then grind yourself.  Much more flavor than store bought cumin powder.
  • 6 C. onions, chopped
  • 10 large cloves garlic, crushed or chopped
  • 1½ C. jalapenos and/or serranos (Serranos are a little hotter.)  I remove some of the seeds and ribs, but not all, since I like my salsa pretty hot.
  • 2 to 3 T. Thai hot chilies (these really crank up the heat!!)
  • 3 golden cayenne peppers (pretty hot, too!)  These are added mostly because they add some bright color.  If you can't find them, just do a few extra Thai hots.
  • 2 C. chopped cilantro, lightly packed.  I cut off the stems from the bottom of the bunch, but do not worry about the rest of the stems.  They add flavor, just make sure they are chopped up pretty good.
 Okay, the hard part is done.  Bring the whole thing up to a boil.  While doing that, get your pan of lids and rings boiling, and put some hot water into your prepared jars, so that you are not putting boiling hot liquid into a very cold jar. 

Once the salsa is boiling, take out a spoonful and let cool a bit to taste.  Some people like to add some cider vinegar to it, but I didn't think it needed it.  This is your last chance to fiddle with the recipe – add a little salt, maybe you want to kick it up a notch with some more hot peppers.

Now put your canner onto the stove to begin heating and start bottling your salsa.  Use the funnel so that you keep the neck of the jar as clean as possible.  Fill to about a quarter to half inch from the top.  Set your funnel into the next jar, then wipe the rim of the jar you just filled with a clean paper towel, use your magnet to lift out a lid and a rim, put on the filled jar and tighten down pretty hard.  Then use your jar lifter to set the filled jar into the canner.  Proceed with the next six jars, then make sure that all of the jars are completely covered with water.  As soon as the canner water boils, put on the lid, turn your heat down a bit and process for 35 minutes.

Now you have that extra quart of salsa and the tomato juice to think about.  Put the tomato juice into the pot with the remaining salsa and bring all back up to a boil.  Put the funnel into a clean jar and put a small sieve into the funnel.  Now ladle out the hot mixture into the funnel and fill the jar with tomato juice that is now nice and spicy.  As you collect the remaining salsa in the sieve, put that into one of the two remaining jars.  You should end up with about a quart and a half of juice and a full quart of salsa.  I add a little of the hot tomato juice to the jar of salsa to make sure it has enough juice, and then cap it.  It will probably seal without canning it, but this is the one you want to put in your fridge to eat right away.

I am on a low carb diet.  Two options for dippers – the easiest is good old pork rinds.  The other is to get low carb wraps, cut them into eighths, spray with some olive oil and sprinkle some salt on them.  Then toast in oven until crunchy.  They are a bit of a bother, but pretty darned good for very few carbs!


  1. The vinegar is not optional. It is to prevent spoilage and growth of bacteria. "Microorganisms such as Clostridium botulinum, the type of bacteria that causes botulism, can survive or grow in some foods at certain pH levels."

    I have forgotten the vinegar before and had to add it and reprocess the whole batch. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!

  2. The vinegar - not necessary. I have plenty of recipes in canning books that do not call for it. When one cans the product, whether a water bath or pressure cooker, that takes care of the bacteria. That is its purpose.

    I should be dead now if it was necessary! LOL