Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Salsa It Is



Last night, when Andy brought home that bowl of tomatoes, I was really hopeful, but thought it unlikely that there would be enough tomatoes for salsa today. Nevertheless, I hauled out Andy's scale and started piling tomatoes on it. Imagine my surprise when the needle actually went a bit past the 10 pound mark. Apparently 10 pounds of tomatoes is less than I thought. And my salsa recipe calls for 10 pounds of tomatoes. My day had been decided for me.

The kids and I made a quick errand run to pick up the few things I needed to make salsa- most importantly, the hot peppers. Today, the farm stand had a selection of jalapenos, serranos, hot hungarian wax peppers, and lo and behold! Habaneros! At 10 cents apiece, I made up a goody bag of hot peppers for myself. My selection today was 5 jalapenos, 4 serranos, and 1 habanero to make my salsa. One more stop for some tomato paste, and I was in business.

Salsa making is a project, but the rewards are so worth it. I started by peeling and chopping the tomatoes. Then I got the intital mixture cooking, as I wanted to cook it down a bit. In the past, my salsa has always been a tad more watery than I would ideally like. So today I experimented by cooking the tomatoes down for a full hour instead of the usual 30 minutes. While that cooked down, I got the onions and peppers ready. I was so careful with the hot ones... I used those heavy duty Playtex yellow gloves for the jalapenos and the serranos. And then it was time for the habanero. I used my paring knife to very carefully take the sides off- leaving every last seed attached to the core. Then I chopped those tiny pieces on a double layer of Foodsaver bags- I really didn't want that heat to get trapped in my cutting board. Hot peppers dispatched of, I added them to the tomatoes, and then cooked it again for another 15 minutes or so. And finally, tomato paste was added until I was happy with the thickness, in this case it took 3 large cans.

I was thrilled when I started pouring the mixture into jars and I came up with 9 quarts of salsa! That's a lot of salsa to add to my ever growing pantry. Not to mention all the financial benefits of having that salsa. Football season is coming up, and Andy loves chips and salsa when he's watching the games. I also know that the guys that will be over every Monday night will also enjoy it, so today's labor was really a labor of love. There was sunshine in my kitchen today. I just found a happy place and the whole salsa making project today was a joyful experience. And I have fantastic salsa. Oh so wonderful- a bit on the fiery side, but there is a distinct fruitiness to this salsa that only comes from that wonderful habanero pepper.

And it will go beautifully with tonight's White Chicken Enchiladas for dinner. :-)

Here is the recipe for anyone interested. This is my Mom's recipe. You can play with it a bit to adjust to your tastes, here I have today's measurements of hot peppers, but the original called for 12 jalapenos and 5 chili peppers. What you cannot change, however, is the tomatoes, vinegar, and lime juice. You need those proportions of acid to make the salsa able to be canned. What you can play with is the garlic, cilantro, peppers, and any other additions. I've added chipotle chilies in the past (awesome!) and have also done one with more garlic and lime juice.


Salsa

10 pounds tomatoes -- peeled and chopped
4-6 medium onions -- chopped
3-5 cups chopped bell peppers
5 jalapeno chile peppers -- seeded and chopped
4 serrano peppers -- seeded and chopped
1 habanero chile -- seeded and chopped
6 cloves garlic -- minced
1 1/3 cups apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup cilantro -- chopped
1/4 cup salt
3 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons lime juice
3 or 4 12 oz. cans tomato paste
1 Tablespoon ground cumin

Combine everything except bell peppers, hot peppers, onions, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring occassionally.

Add all peppers and onions, return to a simmer, and simmer for another 10 minutes.

One can at a time, add the tomato paste, giving each addition time to cook a little bit (about 5 minutes between additions). Very frequent stirring will be necessary at this point. Add tomato paste until it's thickened nicely. Simmer 20 minutes more- stirring frequently to prevent scorching.

Ladle into hot jars. Add lids and process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes.

Makes 9 quarts of salsa.

Description: "Three Pepper Variation"

Yield: "9 quarts"

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

did a trial run of your salsa this weekend (about 1/2 the recipe) and it is all gone. Seems to have been a success!!

Erika said...

Oh that's awesome to hear! I'm glad you tried it.