Thursday, July 26, 2012

Shaun-ta's Bottled Salsa

One thing that we really love at our house is salsa. We eat a lot of it, especially when we bottle our own, because it is good! Last year we didn't get enough tomatoes to can salsa, but this year with our garden expanded and our tomatoes rocking, I went on a mission to replenish our supply of salsa.  This is my own recipe that I came up with as I played around with and experimented with a few recipes. Several years ago, as I was learning more about canning, I wondered why I couldn't just can the fresh salsa that I always made and loved. You might have the same question and here is a good resource for you to go to learn more about safe canning methods and the reason why you can't just can some of your favorite family recipes. When you are canning it is important that you follow recipes that have been properly researched and tested for safety.
The only changes you can safely make in these salsa recipes are to substitute bottled lemon or lime juice for 
vinegar and to change the amount of spices and herbs. You should never alter the proportions of vegetables to acid and tomatoes because it might make the salsa unsafe. With that being said, it was using this method that I developed my salsa recipe and I would encourage you to do the same. Choose an approved recipe and make it your own by adding the spices and herbs that your family enjoys. There are lots of approved recipes out there, here are a few places you can get them:

I haven't been able to find the approved recipe that I developed my recipe from, it has been such a long time, and I have been using my recipe for years. So I will share with you the recipe that I use and the method I use for canning my salsa. It might give you some ideas of how to develop your own recipe.

Shaun-ta's Bottled Salsa

8 Cups Tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 & 1/2 Cups Chopped Onion
1 & 1/2 Cups Green Pepper, chopped
1 Cup Jalapeno, chopped
6 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
Cilantro, fresh or dried to taste
2 tsp. Cumin
2 tsp.  Black Pepper
1/8 Cup Salt
1/3 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Vinegar

The first step is to prep your tomatoes. I do a three bowl set up. You start by placed your tomatoes in boiling water to loosen the skins.

You will know when your tomatoes are ready because the skins will begin to split.

The skins on your tomatoes will peel right off at this point. Some people dip their hot tomatoes into ice water immediately after the boiling water, but I skip this step because I feel it is unnecessary. I just place them into my second bowl and let them cool for a second before coring and peeling them.

Next I dice my tomatoes and when I am making salsa I do this into a colander with a bowl underneath to catch the extra juice. Straining off the excess juice helps you to get a nice thick salsa that you don't have to cook forever.

I bottle the extra juice separately to use for chili or soups ( it wouldn't be good for drinking.) To bottle your juice follow my recipe for bottling diced tomatoes for the correct amounts of salt and lemon juice to add. Process the juice the same as you would your diced tomatoes.

Next chop up all of your veggies. You may or may not want to pull the seeds out of your jalapenos, it just depends on how spicy you want your salsa. I usually remove mine. I use the end of a spoon to remove them. You can wear gloves if you want, they can burn your skin and make sure not to touch your eyes.

Dump everything into a large pot. The larger the pot the faster your salsa will cook up and get nice and thick. I inherited this pan from my Grandmother. It is one of my cherished possessions and I use it for many things. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce your heat and let it simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until you reach your desired thickness.

Here is the finished product. Nice and thick, just how we like it.

Pour your hot salsa into clean jars.  I did both pints and quarts, a few of each.

Clean jar rims and put on lids. Process your salsa in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes and you have your own homemade bottled salsa, yum.

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