So many tomatoes! Gotta find a way to enjoy them over the winter. I love them with some pesto and the zucchini fritter recipe I shared last month. The pesto and zucchini freeze easily, and so does the salsa if you have freezer space. My freezer is a bit full, so I decided to do the traditional canning method I learned from my Mom. For those of you new to home canning, check out the resources at www.bernardin.ca. They make wonderful canning jars and other equipment and have a ton of great recipes and instructions on how to can simply and safely.
Simple Spicy Salsa
• 6 cups of chopped tomatoes (1.5 Litres) I used 24 smallish Early Girl tomatoes. Some people prefer Romas but I use whatever I have that tastes good and needs to be eaten!
• 2 cups onion, medium chop
• 1 large red pepper
• 3 banana peppers – some prefer jalapenos but again, this is what I had and they worked fine!
• 1 head of garlic – about 7 cloves – finely chopped
• ¾ cup cider vinegar
• 2 teaspoons smoked cumin
• 1 cayenne pepper (optional) I put in the pot while cooking and take out before canning. If you want less hot, leave it out.
1. Peel the tomatoes. Put in a large bowl, pour boiling water over them for a couple of minutes, drain and slip the skins off.
Then chop in medium chunks and put into your cooking pot. I used a 4 Litre pot, which was ‘just’ big enough for the mixture.
2. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and let simmer until desired consistency is reached. About an hour. Simmer longer for a thicker salsa.
3. While the salsa is cooking, prepare the canning kettle and jars.
• I used 7-250 mL Bernardin jam jars. You can also use larger jars but I live alone so larger jars last too long for me once they are opened.
• Take the lids off the jars.
• Keep the rings on the counter and put the jars and the snap lids into the kettle. Cover with boiling water and boil for 10 minutes to sterilize. I also put in my ladle and canning funnel to sterilize before filling the jars.
• Take out the jars with your jar lifter and retrieve the snap lids with Bernardin’s magnetic lifter. I don’t think I could do this without these tools!
• Set the jars on the stovetop and fill to ½ inch below the top with salsa.
• Put on the snap lid, secure with the screw ring – not too tight and use your jar lifter to put these back into the canning kettle. Make sure they are covered with water.
• Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes at a rolling boil.
• Then use that lovely jar lifter again to take the jars out and let them cool on the stovetop.
• Once they are out of the hot water, the lids will snap down in the centre to seal the jar (that’s why they call them snap lids). Let cool, label and enjoy!
4. If you choose to freeze the salsa instead, you can use canning jars but must make sure to leave space at the top of the jar because, in freezing, the salsa will expand and can break the jar. What a waste! So to be safe, I usually leave at least an inch of headspace in the jar and do not tighten the lid until it is frozen. I have lost enough goodies to broken jars that I don’t want to see that again!