Pacing Ourselves September 16, 2011Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Cooking Challenge, random stuff.
Tags: canning, salsa
It’s really pretty much feast or famine around here when it comes to the ol’ love apple, isn’t it?
I’ve said it before – out-of-season tomatoes are just not worth eating. We don’t eat fresh tomatoes after the first frost (well, that’s not exactly true – we pick the starting-to-turn ones and let them ripen indoors; it’s not as good as on-the-vine, but miles better than store-bought).
And while they’re in season, we have more tomatoes than we can possibly eat, which leads us to find ways to preserve them. We’ve canned them and dried them, both with good results. But. . . we’re starting to appreciate the idea of some processed foods too!
And one of Peeps’s favorite processed foods is jarred salsa. It’s not overly processed, and it’s tasty, and, if you get the “hot” version, it’s quite flavorful. He’s not a huge fan of fresh salsa – there’s something to be said for the cooked stuff. It’s easy to get a consistent final product.
Which is a good thing, if you’re happy with your final product. And let me tell you, it’s taken a few years to find a recipe that we were happy with!
I mean, I like the idea of fresh salsa, but that just doesn’t work well if you want to preserve it, and it also doesn’t work well if you don’t have the fresh ingredients, all of which means it works for about 3 weeks out of the year.
That’s no good.
So we looked for a recipe for salsa that we could preserve, one that would be comparable to what Peeps prefers (he uses much more of the stuff than I do, so it only makes sense to find something he likes, right?).
We tried a few that, while they seemed promising, were ultimately disappointing. And we finally found a recipe for a knock-off picante sauce that was quite good – similar to what we’re used to and simple, to boot.
I started out with a mess of tomatoes – about 5 pounds – which I ran through the food processor, but not until they were smooth – just slightly chunky. Add to that about a quart of water (more or less), a mess of jalapenos ( I used about a dozen, plus a couple of poblanos I had knocking around – you can use more or less depending on your personal heat index) and a couple of good-sized onions, diced as finely as you can manage without losing your mind.
In addition to the tomatoes, we’re going to add some vinegar – about half a cup should do it. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy – plain old distilled white vinegar is fine – we buy it by the gallon, because it’s handy for all sorts of things.
Additionally, we also want to add 3-4 Tablespoons of dried minced onions, a tablespoon of dried minced garlic (or half that of garlic powder), and a tablespoon, more or less, of chili powder.
The addition of chili powder, really, is what got me. I mean, who’d have thunk?
But it works. Really. It just might be worthy of the title of “secret ingredient.”
So the whole mess gets stirred together and cooked.
And cooked, and cooked some more.
We cooked it for nearly an hour – long enough to get the thickness we were looking for.
Once the tomatoes had cooked to salsa consistency, we ladled it into 6 pint jars and processed in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes, that is, the sealed jars were submerged in boiling water by about 2 inches, and the whole pot was covered and cooked, at a boil, until the time (which had been set for 15 minutes) went off.
Then I did the math – 6 pint jars is the equivalent of 8 12-ounce jars of commercial salsa. We’ve been paying $3 a jar for the store-bought stuff.
Next year, I may do a couple of batches of salsa, what do you think?