Saturday, July 14, 2012


I've been wanting to try my hand at homemade salsa for quite some time. I also have really gotten into the idea of putting up veggies, especially tomatoes, while they're at their most delicious and then having them on hand in the middle of winter when they won't be available in stores.This weekend I finally had my chance to accomplish BOTH of those goals! Also along for the ride would be my bff and all-around excellent kitchen assistant, Linda Watkins!

The first step was to secure a trust-worthy and delicious-sounding recipe. I checked with a Farmer Friend and he suggested a recipe from Ball (the jar people). A quick trip to their website, which is NOT, by the way, and I found this tasty recipe. I knew it was a winner because it called for onions, cilantro and lime.. Much like another favorite recipe: Pico de Gallo

While on the ball website, we also scoped out this very helpful how-to video. We started to realize how little we knew about canning...

The next important detail would be to get some home grown tomatoes because they will always taste better than store bought varieties. I was still on the lookout for the tomatoes when a friendly co-worker delivered 3 to my desk one day. I said, "What awesome timing! I was looking for some tomatoes to make salsa with. Thanks!"  She said she had an abundance and would bring me more... The next day she brought a bag with 15 tomatoes!!! I was stoked! I also had about 5 tiny ones from our own tomato vine and Linda brought some from her very green-thumbed in-laws. We thought we would even make a double batch with all this fresh produce!

We met up at Wal-Mart when Linda arrived in town and did a little shopping.  Then we headed home to do a little chopping. ;)

Funny story. We were peeling and seeding the tomatoes and got to a point where we thought we had a pretty good amount. So I busted out the kitchen scale to see how we were progressing... We had 1 measly pound! So, when you buy and weigh tomatoes, remember that the seeds and juice account for a large portion of their weight! We realized, sadly, we would not have enough for 2 batches. No big deal, this recipe should make 4 pints :)

So, we got the tomatoes all squared away and then felt like we needed to hose the kitchen and ourselves off!


Next, I snipped cilantro with my kitchen shears while Linda chopped up the green peppers.

Well, remember how I said I don't know much about canning. I apparently know less about green onions... We had to google to figure out which part to use. We realized we could use the whole thing so Linda chopped up 6 like the recipe calls for... But it was a massive heap - here is what was left after we thought we had more than enough loaded into the food processor:

green onions
While grocery shopping, we thought there were a few ingredients we could "cheat" on. We opted to NOT chop up our own jalapenos and NOT mince our own garlic cloves. (I'm so thankful, too, because I just know one of us would have wound up with jalapeno in our eye!) 

a little cheating never hurts...

After measuring it all out, we pureed it in the food processor to a nice runny / still a little lumpy consistency... Sorta like this:

you have no idea how delicious it was at this point

We scooped out a few ladles-full and tested it, added more Louisiana Hot Sauce and jalapeno juice... Mixed it up and threw it into a pot.

Let me just tell you, at that moment it was F-I-N-E. We decided we really needed to test it out again because the last few tweaks we made might not taste the same. Nope. It was still awesome! So... we let it come to a boil.

Then, we finally had a chance to look at the wreckage that was my kitchen. It was not pretty.

We had dumped one container of tomato seeds and juice in the garden and we had another batch to add to the compost.

just know you will have to clean your whole kitchen when you're finished

We also, apparently, used every dish, knife and pot in the kitchen PLUS the food processor!

Linda was an absolute trooper helping me clean and disinfect everything!

After cleaning, I sanitized the lids to the jars in a big ole pot of simmering water and laid them out so we'd be all set! The jars were waiting in the warm and clean dishwasher.

put a ring on it

Finally, the salsa had come to a boil and it was time to fill the jars!!

I laid out several empty jars and swished the simmering water in them to temper the glass. (Thanks for the tip, Mom!)

Linda filled the first jar, then the second... and then there was only enough left for one more small jar. :( What a sad moment!

I put the jars in the pot and we put some empties in to bring the water level up over the lids...

water canning
 We set the timer and waited.

15 minutes on the clock

After a very long 15 minutes, the salsa was ready and it looked awesome and delicious!

I had agreed to give a small jar to the sweet lady who gave me all those tomatoes and then to save a jar for when Brad comes home... That meant I didn't have a jar to eat in the meantime!

deliciousness, and it's good for a year, people!
Guess that means I'll have to make some more!!  ;)