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Canning Salsa

August 30, 2010

For the second year in a row, I’ve cooked and canned salsa with tomatoes and peppers from our garden. I’ve been asked by several people to teach them how to can, so I’ve created a step-by-step guide below. This is the Fresh Vegetable Salsa recipe from Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving. (Remember you should only use recipes that have been created for canning and follow them as directed. Altering the ingredients changes the acid content and can affect how the recipe preserves. It can be dangerous later on!)

Ingredients (makes about ten 8-oz jars or five pint jars):
7 Cups chopped, cored, peeled tomatoes
2 Cups coarsely chopped onion
1 Cup coarsely chopped green bell pepper
8 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 can (5.5oz) tomato paste
3/4 Cup white vinegar
1/2 Cup coosely packed, finely chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp ground cumin

Notes:
** To peel a tomato, put it in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then submerge it into ice water. The skin will peel right off.
** The seeds and ribs are where the heat lives in jalapenos. I recommend taking the seeds out, even if you like a hot salsa. It is easier to add heat to a jar once you open it than to cool it off. If you are sure you’re going to want it hot, leave the seeds in from some of the jalapenos, but not all of them.
** I chop my ingredients by hand. You can use a food processor, but I find it makes the veggies very watery and sometimes mushy. They’re going to get mushy as they cook, so I like to make sure they are crisp when I start. However, a food processor will save time.

Equipment:
canning jars will lids and bands (I have used both Ball and Golden Harvest brands with good success)
a stock pot or dutch oven for cooking the salsa
a water bath pot (any pot wide enough to fit your jars and tall enough to cover them with at least 1 inch of water)
a small saucepan for your lids
canning tools such as a wide mouth funnel, jar lifter and magnetic lid lifter or tongs.

Directions:
1. In a large pot or dutch oven, combine all ingredients. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring very often. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently until thickened- about 30 minutes. While the salsa boils, prepare your jars and lid. Wash and sanitize the jars and lids, then drop the lids into a saucepan of simmering water. Fill your water bath pot with water and turn the burner on. You can bring the water to a simmer while you are working to speed up the water bath time.

Fresh ingredients before cooking

 Be sure to mix everything together well but gently so you don’t destroy the chunkiness:

 Keep stirring during the boiling process:

Boiling for about 20 minutes

 
Notice how much the salsa has cooked down and thickened while it cooked:

30 minutes... ready for the jars!

 
The simmering water warms the rubber on the lids and helps them seal.

2. Ladle the hot salsa into hot jars (I dunk them partially into the water bath pot to warm them up), leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if necessary by adding additional salsa.

Use the funnel to fill the warm jars

 Headspace refers to how much space is left between the top of the jar and the salsa.

3. Wipe rim (VERY IMPORTANT! A stray tomato seed will cause the processing to fail!). Center lid on jar. (This is where a magnetic lid lifter will come in handy but regular tongs will work fine).

Careful... they are hot!

 4. Screw bands down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight. (Note: I use oven mitts when doing this because the jars are really hot!)

5. Place the jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with at least 1 inch of water. Bring to a full boil and process for 20 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars.

Boiling!

 6. Cool completely and store. Jars should be stored in a cool, dark place.

Cool on a wire rack or marble cutting board, not directly on the counter.

 

 I hope this helps anyone who is working on canning for the first time. I’ve found this recipes typically only makes about 4 jars… sometimes a tad extra. If I have a little leftover, I just cool it and put it in the fridge and use right away.

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