Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Salsa Time

So I processed 4 pints of salsa last night.  This place smelled like the Old El Paso factory.  Of course by morning the smell of the salsa had mingled with some ripe bananas and coffee and it smelled, very strangely, more like Trader Joe’s.  

Making this salsa was a labor of love.  Each tomato had to be peeled and chopped.  Peeling tomatoes is a bear.  The food processor made quick work of the rest though.  I like to chop one vegetable at a time and then layer them into an 8 cup glass measuring cup.  I don’t know, maybe using a dry measure would be more accurate.  The recipe says it makes 5 pints, I halved it and still jarred up 4 (those are pints, right?).  I don’t know what that’s about.  I hope it’s ok.

I ended up using the recipe for mild salsa from The Complete Book of Pickling.  This was after realizing that the recipe for salsa in the Ball book didn’t call for any salt.  I was working from a photocopy so I don’ t know if there was something written somewhere in the introduction about when and were to add salt but I had to scrap that one.

After reviewing a bunch of recipes I chose this one and it tasted pretty good to me going into the jars but I think maybe branching out beyond jam and pickles is not for me.  Published recipes for traditional (not pressure canning) processing are created with a fanatical eye to food safety.  I’m not minimizing food safety in any way because Lord knows I’m petrified of eating a big spoonful of botulism but taste and texture fall in somewhere after that and not necessarily at a close second and third.  Preserving with sugar or tremendous quantities for vinegar is straight forward but when you start to get into the gray area of low acid foods you’d better know what you’re doing or stick to the recipe.

If, in the end, I really can’t let it go I might just upgrade to a pressure canner somewhere down the road.  This recipe, as I prepared it, called for

  • 7 c chopped tomatoes
  • 1.5 c chopped onions
  • 1 c chopped red pepper
  • 1/2 c chopped green pepper
  • 1 tpsp chopped jalapeno
  • 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp pickling salt
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 c cider vinegar
  • 1/8 c chopped cilantro

The mixture is simmered for an hour and then processed for 20 minutes.

Chase wanted to pose with the jars.  You can see the relish in this shot AND the flowers that Ben sent me yesterday.  I opened the door, looked at the guy and asked him who I was signing for.  A complete surprise.

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