My husband and I have had a garden for about the last 10 years. The one consistent item we have every year is tomatoes. Tomatoes of many varieties. Because of my husband’s green thumb, we usually end up with a ton. We’ve even limited ourselves to 4 varieties per year, and sometimes one or two are flops but we still end up with a surplus.
Since one can only eat so many Caprese salads, we’ve played around with a number of ways to use up all those delicious garden tomatoes. Surprisingly, the most labor intensive seemed to be simply canning them as tomatoes because of having to peel them, which is a P.I.A.
My favorite was probably making ketchup. We did that a few years in a row and it was fun to use the different varieties of tomatoes to make different colored ketchup. One year we had yellow, green, pink, and orange. But when our daughter, the ketchup fiend whose favorite color was pink, refused to eat the pink ketchup, we decided to move on to something else.
After experimenting here and there, the easiest, most money saving, and most consumed, ended up being salsa. Plus it’s easy to grow pretty much everything you need to go into it. Well, it’s easy for my husband that is… I kill any plant that requires being watered more than once a month.
Here’s the “recipe” that we use and how to can it using the boiling method. I put quotes around “recipe” because salsa is not an exact science as much as a matter of personal taste. If you like it extra spicy, add more jalapenos. If you love the flavor of cilantro, throw in another handful. You cannot dictate how much your garden will produce, so adjust as necessary.
The Basic Ingredients:
- 25 Tomatoes
- 4 Green Bell Peppers
- 5 Jalapeno Peppers
- 1 Red and 1 White Onion
- 11 Cloves of Garlic
- 2 Cups Cilantro
- 2 Cups Fresh Squeezed Lemon and/or Lime Juice
- 2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
- Dried Oregano
Blend Together in Batches.
- Remember, this is not an exact science. Once you’ve chopped your veggies, place an equal amount of each into a blender.
- For each batch use a ratio of about 1 1/2 cups tomatoes, 3/4 cup green bell peppers, 3/4 cup onions, 1/4 cup jalapenos, 1/4 cup cilantro, 3 cloves garlic, 1/4 cup each of lemon/lime juice and cider vinegar, tablespoon of salt, 1/2 tablespoon cumin, teaspoon dried oregano, fresh ground pepper.
- Pulse quickly so that you maintain a little bit of chunk
As You Blend, Pour it All Into a Large Pot.
- Be Sure to taste as you go, and keep adding seasonings as necessary. It will mellow out a bit in the process.
Meanwhile, Run Mason Jars Through the Dishwasher on the Sanitizer Cycle. It’s Surprisingly Important That Your Jars are Clean.
- Fill a canning pot, or large pot, with enough water so that it covers the jars by at least an inch. Bring the water up to a slow boil.
- Fill your clean jars with the salsa leaving about an inch at the top.
- Once it JUST starts to bubble (if not right before), put your jarred salsa in the water.
- Make sure the jars are already warm/hot when you put them in the water, otherwise this will happen and you will have a giant mess. You’ll need to dump the water out of the canning pot and start fresh if this happens. The jars I used fresh out of the dishwasher worked great. It’s when this one had a chance to cool off that it broke.
- Bring it back up to a boil.
- Now let it simmer for 15 minutes, 20 minutes for higher altitudes (over 2,000′).
- After that, turn off the heat and let it sit for another 5 minutes
- Transfer the jars to a clean kitchen towel and let them sit there overnight.
Now Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor.