Wednesday, July 12, 2017

When I Made FRESH Salsa

This is my garden.
My garden this year

As you can probably see, it is pretty much only these two tomato plants. Apparently, tomatoes thrive where I live. I got a whole bunch of tomatoes off these plants, and decided that the only logical thing to do with them was make salsa.
Besides, I've only tried canning once before, and I really wanted to do it again.
Here is a "report" on what I did.

The Recipe

I used a variation off a recipe that I got a few years ago for "Zesty Salsa." I made a much smaller amount than the original recipe, which you can find HERE. I added a couple nectarines and mangos.
I also found canning instructions online.

What I Did

I started by picking a day that we had nothing planned. Then I gathered my ingredients.

-A whole bunch of tomatoes fresh from the plant outside (mine were pretty small, and I forgot to measure the amount...oops. Before I did anything to them, they weighed about 2 pounds total)
-1 green bell pepper
-1 JalapeƱo pepper
-1 onion
-Apple cider vinegar
-Lime juice
-2 mangos
-3 nectarines
-UN-iodized salt

The first thing I did was peel and chop the tomatoes.  This is MESSY!
        Step one: Cut a slit in the skin of the tomato

        Step two: place the tomatoes in boiling water

        Step three: Pull them out when the slit begins to look like this.
At this point, the slit has widened, and may be
wrapping around the entire tomato.

        Step four: place in ice water. This cools them so you can actually touch them!

        Step five: Peel off the skin

        Step six: Chop!

Like I said, this is messy.

Now, the reason I peeled off the skin was because nobody wants chunks of tomato skin floating around in their salsa. Agreed?

Next I chopped up all the other stuff and added it to a saucepan.

It turned out to be about this much jalapeno

         ONION: I used 3/4 of an onion.
         BELL PEPPER: I used an entire green bell pepper.
         JALAPENO: I used one small jalapeno pepper. When chopping jalapeno, wear rubber gloves and don't touch your eyes!!!!!!
         APPLE CIDER VINEGAR: I used 1/2 cup.
         GARLIC: I used one clove. Now, I recently learned a neat trick for taking off the paper from    the garlic clove. Put the clove in a small Tupperware container and shake. This loosens the paper and it peels right off! DodgerDog pointed out that instead of using a knife to mince the garlic, I could use a food chopper. Revolutionary! It's TEN TIMES FASTER!
         CILANTRO: I just chopped up a bunch and threw it in. No precise measurement here.
         UN-IODIZED SALT: Also known as "plain salt." I used 1 teaspoon.

        LIME JUICE: I used 1-1/2 Tablespoons.
         NECTARINES: I peeled and chopped three of these.
        MANGO: I peeled and chopped two.

I stirred it all together and brought it to a boil. Then I let it simmer for ten minutes.

In between all the chopping, I washed my mason jar in water as hot as I could bear, and with lots of soap. Then I rinsed it well and put it in boiling water to sanitize it and keep it hot.
Mason Jar before washing...gross!

I put the lid in a small pot and kept it just below boiling to keep
it hot

The mason jar is in that boiling water somewhere!

When the salsa was done simmering, I ladled it into the jars, leaving about 1/2 inch headspace. (HOT salsa into HOT jars) I wiped the rim off and screwed on the cap.

Then I put the jars in the big stock pot and filled it with water so that the jars were completely submerged.

Then I brought it to a boil (which took FOREVER!) and let it process for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, I cleaned up and wrote a blog post. :)

Once the jars had processed for 15 minutes, I had to get them out of the boiling water without dropping them or burning myself. I used tongs and a strainer to get them out of the pot (If I'm going to do this more often, I need a set of actual canning tools!).  Then I set them on a cooling rack and waited overnight.

The next morning, I tested the seal. I had read about several different ways to check, but I ended up just pressing on the center of the lid. If it had flexed under the pressure, I would have had to reprocess it. THANKFULLY it didn't flex, so I just had to put on the label.

And, the salsa is done! :)

 What I would do Different

1-Not do it in the heat of summer! The canning process really heats up the kitchen. I would also start earlier in the day...this took literally ALL DAY. I can't imagine doing more than two jars!

2- Taste the salsa before canning it...I won't have any idea if it tastes good until we open a jar! opps!

And one more thing I'm not a huge fan of...the pile of dishes! This is just a picture of the pots and pans I used...imagine several measuring cups, many knives, a get the idea.

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