Saturday, September 8, 2012

Ha-Cha-Cha Salsa! Making & Canning Your Own

I was originally taking these pictures for a friend who had never canned before and after my epiphany (see previous post) decided to post them here for y'all. I used some of my very favorite products to make this and honestly can't imagine getting the job done easily or very well without them. The best thing to do if you are planning to can salsa or put up tomatoes next year is to plant your own. Romas are the best for salsa. Green, Banana (or Anneheim) & Jalapenos for your peppers & some homegrown onions and you are all set!


1 T canning salt
1/2 C. vinegar
1 pkg. Mrs. Wages seasoning
12 C. chopped tomatoes
2 T. minced garlic (about 8 cloves)
1/2 C. Anneheim (or banana) peppers
2 medium onions (about 1 C.)
1/4 C. jalapeno peppers
1 C. green pepper (about 2 med.)

The most important thing you need of course, is a helper. :)

And a big canning pot with the metal rack/insert that keeps the jars off the bottom of the pan, and at least 4 qt. jars or 8 pint jars, with lids & seals. The jars will have to be sanitized in the dishwasher before you put anything into them. Leave them in there until you are ready to use them or store them on the counter upside down on a clean dishtowel. They will not seal if everything isn't perfectly clean. On top of the jars in the above picture is a must-have canning tool and I'm not sure what it's name is besides jar-picker-upper. I can't think of anything you could use instead of this thing so be sure and get one if you don't have one already. It'll be next to the canning stuff at Target or Wal-mart called something smarter than jar-picker-upper-tong-looking-things.

Here's a picture of the canner on the stove:

 Pictured is the canning salt you need (don't use table salt, it leaves sediment in the bottom of your jars) and the salsa seasoning packet. We use and recommend Mrs. Wages.

You'll also need a big stock pot to cook all this in and a small saucepan to get your water hot for the lids & seals. And a funnel - it doesn't have to be like mine, but mine is a Ball brand one specifically for canning and it's flexible and collapsible which means I can store it in a drawer when I'm done. It also fits perfectly into the mouths of regular & wide mouth jars.

Next you'll need to start chopping up your vegetables. I love the 7" Santoku knife for this job but I'm basically just opening them up and cleaning out the insides. My secret trick for saving LOTS of time when cutting peppers is......a melon baller. The one shown below is very sharp and works like a dream. The smaller end has little teeth in it and it's excellent for removing stems or the insides of a little jalapeno.
(I cannot stress this enough - when you are cutting jalapenos, wear gloves. Seriously)

Also in this last picture is the food chopper I'm having a love affair with. I don't think I'll ever cook without it again. It is so easy to use, so versatile and so easy to clean that I use it for everything, it will finely dice garlic and chop tomatoes with the same blade. It's amazing. The best part is there are only 3 parts so you just take it part, throw it in the dish washer and you're ready for next time. It was my first {kitchen tool company product} and I've been in love with it ever since! I chop everything pretty fine but it's really a personal preference. After you par-boil your tomatoes (dip them in boiling water for a minute or so or until the skin splits), drop them in ice cold water and pull off the skins, it's really up to you how finely or coarsely to chop them. Since Romas are a smaller tomato, I can usually fit a whole one under the food chopper, push it down about 5-6 times and it's perfectly sized.

Pictured above is another time saving must-have product and that is a flexible cutting mat. Cutting boards are great for lots of things but you can't really pick them up and dump your stuff very easily. These are the small cutting mats and are perfect for this job. The measuring cup thing is adjustable and can be flipped over and used to measure liquids too. The end I'm using is designed so all I have to do is press in the other end and it completely expels all the stuff out so it makes measuring peanut butter for instance SO much easier. Pictured next is my little garlic mincer. For salsa, I don't like my garlic pulverized otherwise I would use the {kitchen tool company} garlic press because it really is cool - you just stick the clove in there, skin and all, and press. For this one, you fill the little hopper with your cloves...


I don't know whose idea that was, but, it's genius.

You will need to fill your canning pot a little over halfway with water and get that boiling. I used to boil my seals and rings also but current canning wisdom says no boiling, just soak them in really hot water. So now I boil the water in the saucepan and then turn it off after I put my lids (rings) and flats (seals) in.

Once you have all of your veggies chopped and diced, put them all in the stock pot with your vinegar, salt and seasoning and put it on to boil for about 10 minutes or so. It needs to be heated through and simmering before it's ready to be jarred. I use a {kitchen tool company} Mega Scraper for this job because it's huge and it's kind of flat on the end so it gets everything mixed up and scraped off the bottom. PERFECT

My sister and I deviate on this last part - she also heats her jars in hot water in the sink before filling them and putting on the seals & lids. I tried it and it was too hard for me to keep them upright and trying to fill them while they were floating away so I used slightly-warmed-because-the-kitchen-is-blistering-hot-by-now jars and that worked too.

Once your salsa is cooked and your water is boiling in the canner, it's time to fill the jars. You need to leave about 1" headroom at the top and wipe down the rim if you get anything on it (or touch them) before placing your (hot) seal on and twisting on the ring. You don't want to set your hot jars near an open window or under a fan and actually, I cover mine with a dishtowel while they are cooling just to slow it down a little.

The final step is to go back to your normal life and then wonder what that popping noise is in the kitchen. If any of them didn't seal (no pop!) then just stick it in the fridge and eat it now. Usually there's a little leftover anyway so I put it in one of my 1 cup prep bowls because they are glass (and metal or plastic is not the place for tomato anything) and they have seals. I use these little things ALL the time.

Enjoy! And be sure to let me know how you did :)

Email me for more information on all the products used or if you have any questions about why the "{kitchen tool company}" references instead of the actual name: rachael.9667 AT gmail DOT com


DiaJ. said...

Wow - this looks AMAZING!!! Will have to try it sometime! I have added this to my favorites :) PS you have the cutest little helper in the background <3

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