Those tomatoes I planted by seed, way back in March, are suddenly ripening. Although my intention all along was to plant a lot of starts so I could can tomatoes, I still found myself a bit surprised when I found I needed to start canning so soon. Thankfully I had a weekend off from weddings and found the gumption to not only to can a batch of tomato salsa but also a batch of tomatillo salsa.
Tomato salsa and Tomatillo Salsa (salsa verde)
This is not my first experience with canning and when talking to friends I’ve discovered that many people, (especially my age) don’t know how to can their own food. I grew up watching my grandmother and mother can all sorts of foods…. but of course, I never paid attention. In 2003, my husband and I planted our first garden. That garden was the largest we have ever had and we had vegetables coming out our ears. I had to learn how to can and quick. Thankfully the internet is a wealth of information.
Canning food is actually very easy. It is a bit time consuming, but most good things are. The absolute basics of home canning do not change from recipe to recipe. Wash, sanitize and process with proper acid levels. As long as you follow these basic rules you’ll have safe, preservative free foods to eat all year long.
There are many websites full of canning information and recipes. Here is just one place to go for more information.
Canned Tomato Salsa Basics
All great recipes start with fresh ingredients. My recipe for salsa includes tomatoes, onions, anaheims, jalapenos, garlic and cilantro.
Step 1: Wash tomatoes
Step 2: Blanch tomatoes
For the best quality canned salsa the tomato skins need to be removed. Although this is admittedly tedious, you will be much happier with your final result if you take the extra time and remove the skins.
Blanching is a quick process. Usually a 10-30 second dunk is all that is required. Pull the tomatoes out of the hot water as soon as you see the skin begin to split.
Step 3: Remove skins
Step 4: Remove seeds and liquid portions and dice the tomatoes, place in a colander and drain excess liquids.
Step 5: While diced tomatoes are draining, chop all the remaining ingredients except cilantro.
Step 6: Combine all the ingredients in a stock pot and slowly bring to a boil.
Time to boil varies depending on the quantity of ingredients, anticipate your wait time to be approximately one hour. Don’t forget to occasionally stir the ingredients while you wait.
Once the mixture has reached a boil, lower the heat and simmer for approximately 30 minutes (don’t forget to stir) … Add the chopped cilantro during the last five minutes for a brighter flavor.
Step 7: Wash jars
To prevent spoilage it is very important to make sure your containers are clean and sanitized. There is absolutely no room for shortcuts here.
Step 8: Boil jars for about 5 minutes.
This kills all germs that could be potentially growing on the surface. I can’t stress enough… don’t skip this step! A food born illness is not worth the risk.
Step 9: Remove the jars from the hot water bath and immediately fill with contents.
In the case of salsa and almost any tomato product you need to add 2-3 teaspoons of lime juice, lemon juice or vinegar to the jar before adding in the hot salsa mixture. I prefer lime juice for salsa. The lime juice acts as an additional acid which helps preserve the food and prevent botulism.
Using a canning funnel helps keep the rims of the glass clean while filling jars. Before placing lids on jars wipe around the ring of the jar with a damp cloth. Doing so will ensure a tight seal in the canning process.
Step 10: Process jars in a boiling hot water bath
Actual processing time varies depending on the items you are canning and your elevation. Refer to your specific recipe for instructions.
Once the jars are cooled, all you need to do is store them and enjoy; but save some, cracking one of these jars in the middle of winter comes with a taste of summer.