Some like it hot...but I like it mild. That's one of the nice things about making your own salsa -- you can make it as spicy or non-spicy as you like.
My own salsa-making journey was inspired by two jars of delicious salsa we received from my aunt Maggie last winter. They were so far and above even the best supermarket salsa money can buy, that we used each and every drop -- a radical departure from my norm which is to open a pint jar, use about half of it, put it back in the fridge, feel vaguely guilty while it begins to grow an entire colony of mold on it, then throw it out several months later in a fit of disgusted refrigerator cleaning.
These jars of homemade salsa were special enough to inspire me to find new ways to use them up - I even rediscovered western omelettes!
So when tomatoes starting rolling in a couple of weeks ago, I thought, "why not make some really good salsa of our own to last us the whole long, cold, bleak, dreary, depressing winter?" (can you tell I do not care for winter?)
I asked Auntie Maggie what she does to create her awesome deliciousness and I have to admit that my enthusiasm for the whole project quadrupled when she said she just puts all the ingredients right into the food processor. After the previous week's tomato sauce canning bonanza with its requisite peeling, slicing and dicing, I was ready for this quicker, easier prep method.
The ingredients are simple - tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro, jalapeños, white or apple cider vinegar, sugar, and salt. You wash things off, chop them roughly, dump them in the Cuisinart, blend for a bit, cook for a bit and then can it all. Es tan fácil!
I am morally opposed to seeding tomatoes so my salsa was a bit watery when it came out of the food processor but I just cooked it down until it reached the perfect consistency.
As a result of the previous week's tomato sauce canning, when it came time to start sterilizing jars, we realized there was a serious shortage of pints... But the gods of serendipity were shining on our house that day as this potential tragedy led to a truly brilliant innovation - half-pint jars of salsa!
No more rushing to use up a full pint of salsa, no more feeling guilty about wasting salsa, and no more feeling revolted by the mold colonies growing in our fridge - it's a win-win-win.
The cheerful jars lining the shelf in our pantry should help add some (mild) heat to the coming cold winter days.
Heirloom Tomato Salsa
Makes 6 pints (or 12 half-pints)
* 5 lbs heirloom tomatoes
* 1-2 jalapeño peppers, seeds, ribs and stems removed, finely diced (I recommend wearing gloves when working with these)
* 2 onions, roughly chopped
* 4 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
* 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, washed, and dried
* 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1 Tbsp sea salt
1. Place the tomatoes, onions, garlic, and cilantro in the bowl of a food processor and blend until it reaches the desired consistency.
2. Put the blended mixture into a large, non-reactive pot, add the jalapeños, sugar, salt and vinegar, bring to a boil and then simmer until it reaches the desired thickness.
3. While the salsa is cooking, sterilize your jars and lids in the hot water bath for 10 minutes. Drain and remove the jars, ladle the hot salsa directly into the hot jars leaving 1/4" head space, wipe the rims with a clean, damp paper towel, apply the lids, and secure the bands.
4. Process in a hot water bath canner for 20 minutes, then remove from the water and let the jars cool on a rack or several dishtowels to avoid extreme temperature changes which can crack the jars. One cooled, check the seals (the lids must be popped down) and store in a cool dark place for up to one year. If any of the lids have not sealed properly, store the jar in the fridge and use within one week.
Not feeling totally confident about how to can food yet? Check out my how-to post here for an overview of the process.
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