Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bottled Salsa


Yesterday was my first time canning homemade salsa.  Well, let me clarify that, it was my first time canning salsa that didn't burn and have to get thrown out. (last year's experience)  Originally I wanted to make my grandpa Bushman's recipe, but since his calls for 200 tomatoes (or 50 lbs) I didn't have enough tomatoes and didn't want to guess at how many I had etc. etc. So after doing some research online about canning homemade salsa I found these things:
1) when canning tomatoes you need to add 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice per quart of tomatoes (after skinned)
2) you can process them in a pressure canner-cooker and not have to add lemon juice, but the time to process is a lot longer
3) "they"-meaning regulated sites, don't recommend canning your own homemade salsa because the acidity of all the ingredients is unknown unless you have your recipe professionally tested in a lab.
4) on a website I refer to often- www.pickyourown.org a woman asked a question about how she had canned her salsa and forgot the lemon juice and wondered what to do.  Here's the question and answer:
Forgot to add lemon juice: I made and canned my first tomatoes and salsa. I totally missed putting lemon juice in at the end. Are they ruined? Will they spoil? or am I ok to eat them? I did not know what to do. I didn't know if they can be opened and re done in the water bath after adding lemon juice. I feel horrible for missing that step.
First don't panic. People have canned tomatoes for generations without adding lemon juice. Lemon juice is added to increase the margin of safety. They USDA started recommending this when they realized that some newer varieties of tomatoes (like the yellow ones) are lower in acid. Don't get me wrong; I do think you should include lemon juice (it's a very small amount that won't be noticeable in the taste), but I wouldn't panic over forgetting it once!
 

So with all that I came to the conclusion that we would be ok canning my own recipe and that I will be sure to add lemon juice just in case!  Now if my family dies in the future, then by all means, don't use this recipe! haha.  But if you feel (as I did) in reading the information above that this recipe is safe then feel free to use it.

My recipe:
 Since we don't have a garden this year, I was collecting tomatoes from anyone that would give them to me.  I put the bags into my freezer- which actually turned out to be an awesome idea- when I had enough tomatoes to make some salsa, I took them out of the freezer and just them defrosting made the skins loose and super easy to peel! No blanching in hot water required.

It's a good idea to fill your hot water canner half full of water and get it heating up while you make your salsa.

After skinning all the tomatoes I had 5 quarts of juice and insides.  The recommended lemon juice to add is 2 Tablespoons per quart, but I added 12 total (instead of 10) to be on the safe side :)

Putting the pan on the stove I added to the tomatoes & lemon juice:
5 yellow onions- chopped
5 green bell peppers- chopped
6 large Tablespoons of minced garlic
2 T salt
1/2 c. cilantro- chopped
2 T. salsa seasoning I had
3 large cans of tomato paste

After cooking until the salsa thickened up and had a good boil it was ready to bottle!
There was enough to fill 8 quart jars and then a little extra for a bowl for us to enjoy.  Since my canner only holds 7 jars at a time we put one in the fridge.
Make sure the water covers the jars by a inch or so, and process for 20 minutes for quart size jars.  That means once the water is at a full boil you start the timer.

I know a red bowl holding red salsa isn't the best way to take this picture, but I kinda like my Tupperware so I'm careful to only put red sauces into my red bowls so they wont stain :)

 

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