Homemade Salsa and Canning Tips

It’s canning time again! A good friend from church passed along two big bags of tomatoes, so this morning I lugged my canning supplies down from attic storage and like a kid on Christmas morning, I dug into it. Exciting to find extra boxes of canning flats (lids) which means I can swing that many more pints or quarts than I originally thought!

The only disappointment I experience is slight regret that we haven’t been able to replace the dishwasher that quit on me…however long ago that was (last summer?). Dishwashers are so good for disinfecting jars and rings and keeping your jars on the hot side, which is a requirement when filling with hot salsa. But then, I’m always bragging about how much I love the simple, old-fashioned life, so here’s my chance to put my words into practice!

Nothing like canning to heat up a kitchen! Every burner is busy on my stove…one canner full of cold water and clean jars that can heat up together (ta-da: hot jars ready to fill)…one saucepan with lids and rings keeping hot…one kettle with boiling water to dip tomatoes in before their plunge into chilled water (skin just slips off)…and another kettle handy into which I’ll pour the hot water from the canning jars once I’m ready to exchange their H2O for salsa!

I’d be remiss here if I didn’t recommend the Ball Blue Book Guide to Home Canning, Freezing and Dehydration. Ever want to make Kiwi Jam? Pickled Okra? Peach Butter? This book is a homemaker’s dream. I’d think every woman should have a copy, not knowing what the future holds for our country. I’m not going Y2K on you, just advocating preparedness.

Never canned before? Find a Farm and Ranch Supply store and browse that aisle. You’ll see many tools of the trade. Besides canners, there are jar lifters (a must), wide-mouthed funnels (another must) and magnetic lid/ring lifters (not so necessary, I use a fork and quick fingers to lift mine from the hot saucepan). If you’d rather, just browse canning tools and supplies online…you’ll get hooked, I promise!

The following salsa recipe was one of my top hits last year, though it doesn’t have the hundreds of comments that the Amish Friendship Bread has to show for its popularity. I thought I’d repost it here today. My dh and I think it tastes a lot like the salsa at Carlos O’ Kelly’s, a popular Mexican restaurant here in the midwest.

Mary’s Mild Salsa–makes 10 pints

22 tomatoes (I put in twice as many if they’re on the small-to-medium side)
4 bell peppers, chopped fine
3 onions, chopped fine
1 cup vinegar
3/4-1 cup jalepeno peppers, chopped fine
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup salt
1 cup (12 oz) tomato paste (I omit this)
Cilantro to taste
3 cloves garlic minced

After getting skin off tomatoes (dip in boiling water 20 seconds, then into cold–skin falls off), put 2/3 of them in blender and blend. Chop the rest of them (if you have a good blender you can blend all veggies together, we like it chunky) and put all ingredients into pot, bring to a boil and then simmer for 25 minutes. Use a ladle and funnel to fill hot jars with salsa, leaving 1 inch headspace. Slip a plastic knife or other non-metal straight object along sides of jar to release any bubbles. Wipe jar rim with clean washcloth for a good seal. Apply lid and ring and put jar into canner. It will be fine as you continue filling pints/quarts till canner is full. Water bathe pints for 15 minutes and quarts for 20.

Some people like to buy salsa “mix” at Wal Mart. I did this one year, and though the label said “mild” it wasn’t! That was a huge waste of my time and tomatoes, not nearly as good as homemade with all the fresh veggie additions and I was the only one who could handle the “heat”. So be warned.

If you want pictures and another recipe, this site has great pictures.

Well, I’m off…

Just two things:

Don’t forget that the Carnival of Modesty deadline is this Friday, August 3rd! Follow this link to submit and join the fun!

Be on the look-out this week, I have a wonderful author interview to post from friend and fellow homeschooler, Amy Wallace. She graciously shared how she schedules everything in, and her favorite curriculums, all in all it’s a very encouraging and uplifting read! As is her book Ransomed Dreams. If you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for?