Remember that time I showed you how easy it is to make Strawberry Freezer Jam, and that you don’t have to worry about hot water and properly sealed jars? Well…I’m going over to the dark side of real canning today. But at the end you get chunky salsa, and what could be better than that?! Plus I have about a million tomatoes and Anaheim peppers in my garden, just waiting to be used.
Canning sounds intense. It really does. (Or maybe it just does to me?) There really isn’t much too it though, I promise! From the research I did you pretty much just need to make sure you’re canning something with high acidity (like salsa! Or fruits, tomatoes, pickles, etc.), you use a trusted and verified recipe, have clean jars, and make sure your lids seal properly. As long as those things happen, you should be good to go.
First thing’s first: your jars. I chose to use half pint jars, but if you go through salsa fast you could use pint size. The jars and lids need to be pre-washed to prevent the spread of germs. I like to just put the jars in the dishwasher. It’s easier that way. Then I boil a pot of water and let the lids and bands boil for about 5-10 minutes.
Next comes the vegetables. I timed this, because I knew people would be asking. All together I spent an hour prepping the veggies. If that seems too long for you, grab a friend! Make them be your sous chef and you can split the profits at the end. Or just turn on some tunes and have a dance party in your kitchen. Fun fact…if you listen to enough Latin Pop on Pandora, eventually they start playing your commercials in Spanish.
*You need to peel and seed your tomatoes for this recipe. The easiest way is to blanch your tomatoes, and it really doesn’t take that long. Start by boiling a pot of water and adding a few tomatoes in at a time, for about 30 seconds – 1 minute. Remove tomato with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl of ice water for about minute. Ta da! The skin should now peel off easily.
To seed tomatoes I quarter them, then use my fingers to scoop out most of the seeds and pulp. You could also use a knife or spoon, but I find it just as quick to use my hands. Don’t worry about getting every seed out, you’re just trying to limit the amount of liquid going into the recipe. Depending on how chunky you like your salsa you can dice them accordingly. They do cook down quite a bit, so don’t kill yourself trying to get teeny tiny pieces.
Mix everything together, bring to boil, then let simmer for 30 minutes. Start dreaming of cabana boys, palm trees and margaritas while your house begins to smell like a Mexican restaurant. Or be productive and get your jars and lids together, whichever you prefer.
As I said, I used half pint size jars and filled 9 of them. Ladle salsa into jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head space at the top. Wipe off any spills around the rim and secure lids.
Now for the “scary” canning part. To start, you need to know your elevation. I used this handy-dandy website here. Then you need to match up your elevation with this Water Bath Altitude Chart from Ball. While they sell special water bath canners, you probably already have a pot big enough at home. It needs to be deep enough allow the water to cover the jars with 1-2 inches of water. Place a few jars in at a time and boil for the proper amount of time, don’t start your timer until the water is boiling. Carefully remove your jars (I used metal tongs), place on a towel on the counter, and let sit 12-24 hours.
Finally the last step: checking the seals. A few minutes after being removed from the water, you may hear a “pop” from the jars (kind of like when you open a Snapple…that sound). This is good! If you notice, when that happens the middle of the lid is now sunken down, and has created vacuum seal. After the 24 hours of sitting is up, press down in the middle of the lids. They shouldn’t flex. Remove the band and try to remove the lid with just your hands. You shouldn’t be able to. If it passes these tests, it sealed. You can now store in a cool, dark place for up to a year.
Congratulations! You survived canning! And now have enough salsa to last you a few months! (hopefully…) Sorry this was such a long-winded post, but I wanted to explain each step so you felt completely comfortable with this recipe at home. I know canning is a big step for some, but trust me and give it a try!
This is a fairly mild salsa, at least to my tastes. You could always add another jalapeño if you wanted some more heat. Happy canning!
Canned Chunky Salsa (makes 9 half-pint jars)
- 6 c diced tomatoes (about 8-10)
- 1 1/2 c diced onions
- 3 jalapeños
- 2 green chiles (Anaheim or Serrano work well)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/4 c chopped cilantro
- 3/4 c lemon juice
- 1 12 oz can tomato paste
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 /2 tsp cayenne pepper
- Wash jars, lids and bands. Either in hot soapy water or jars in dishwasher and lids and bands in boiling water. Let dry.
- Peel and dice tomatoes (*see above for instructions). Place in large saucepan.
- Finely chop onions, both peppers, garlic and cilantro. Add to tomatoes.
- Add lemon juice, tomato paste, oregano, cumin, salt, sugar, and peppers.
- Bring mixture to a boil.
- Reduce and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Pour into jars, leaving a half-inch of head space.
- Wipe rims clean from any drips and place lids on tightly.
- Boil water in water bath canner or deep sauce pan (must be deep enough for water to cover jars 1-2 inches). Once water is boiling, carefully add jars into water.
- Boil according to your elevation and the Water Bath Altitude Chart.
- Remove jars from water using jar lifter or metal tongs. Let sit on a towel for 12-24 hours.
- Check the seals after 24 hours by pressing down in the center of the lid. They should not flex. Remove the band and try to remove lid with fingers. Lid should not be able to be lifted off.
- Store in a cool, dry place.
**NOTE** If jars do not seal properly, they are not ruined. They just need eaten sooner! If they are not sealed, place in refrigerator and use within a week.