I have been having a blissful time this week cooking, baking and canning. Our little gardens did not do well at all this year, but I have still managed to reap some of the benefits from them. Montana weather is fickle at best and this year it was just too cool and too dry for anything spectacular to occur. Our 4 tomato plants were stunted and they never produced tomatoes until mid to late August. I really didn’t think they would turn red before the frost hit and I was right. So in anticipation of our first frost, my husband picked all the tomatoes off the plants a few weeks back. I carefully sorted them and either put them in brown bags or cardboard boxes and set them by the wood stove which, by the way, has been fully operational for the past 3 or 4 weeks now. Last week we started enjoying the first tomatoes of the year, lol.
This past week, they all seemed to ripen at once and I was overwhelmed with lots and lots of tomatoes all needing to be eaten, cooked or canned immediately. So I set to work doing what I do best; homemaking. I washed, cut and diced, cooked, stirred, jarred and boiled until my heart was content and this is the fruits of my labor. 42 beautiful pint jars filled with salsa.
I know many people who are reading this might be wondering what I am going to be doing with 42 jars of salsa, and the answer is simple. We are going to eat them.
The salsa I make is a simplistic garden salsa, that is extremely versatile. I can eat is with homemade chips or crackers as a health snack, or I can use it in place of pizza sauce or tomato sauce or I can make a mean Manhattan Clam Chowder. I will write more on that in a later post. For now however I would like to share the recipe that I use. It is modified from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. If you like to can and preserve food, I would highly recommend this book as most of the recipes are extremely delicious.
6 Cups of cored and diced tomatoes
2 cups of diced onions
1 cup of diced green peppers
3 large jalapeno peppers
4 large cloves of garlic
3/4 cup white vinegar
1 cup of chopped fresh cilantro OR 1 cup of chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp ground cumin (if your used the cilantro)
Put all the ingredients in a large sauce pot and bring to a boil. Stir often. Once a full rolling boil has been reached, turn the heat down to a simmer and let the salsa sit, making sure to stir it frequently. Let this summer for at least 30 minutes before filling your prepared jars and processing in a hot water bath canner according to your altitude.
A note about the vinegar that is added to this recipe:
Vinegar is a natural preservative. This recipe can be made without it, but I would advise to use that salsa within 6 months because there may not be enough acidification in the final product to ensure that they are safely preserved. You can use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, but I have found that when cooking with vegetables, white vinegar has a way of creating flavor harmony.