Is it conceited if I say we’re kind of salsa connoisseurs around here? I suppose it’s not even that we have particularly trained palates, but more because of a deep love of spicy, Mexican foods that makes us qualified.
That and the massive quantity of salsa we consume.
On taco night, my husband polishes off half of a 16 oz. jar of “HOT” salsa all by himself. My daughter eats it with her spoon if we tell her she’s cut off on tortillas chips. Did I mention she’s only two years old?
My husband’s favorite restaurant, naturally, is a local Mexican bar: “…famous Mexican cafe. It’s the great taste of Mexico right in your neighborhood.” (Can you just hear the corny commercial jingle?) It’s not exactly in our neighborhood, but it’s worth the 20-minute drive. They have a wet burrito that enables you to skip looking at the menu altogether.
I tried two different homemade salsa recipes last summer, both directly from good friends. They were both yummy, but the one I want to share today received the husband review:
“It tastes just like it!”
Oh yes. He meant “the restaurant’s” salsa.
I think the trick might be the cumin. Use heaping teaspoons. Popping a few Anaheim peppers in the green pepper category won’t hurt either.
Why do I can Salsa?
We didn’t like lacto-fermenting. If nobody eats it, it’s not healthy. My jars of LF salsa last year were pretty much only used in…cooking. Ironic, I know. I killed all the probiotics in there anyway.
Plus, tomatoes, at least, are healthier when cooked because heat releases the lycopene. So I’m more than happy to preserve fresh produce in my canner when it’s salsa, of which we can never have too much. (If you’d like to know more about fermentation, however, HERE is an amazing eCourse on the subject with almost 2 dozen multimedia lessons.)
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I can avoid:
- BPA in cans (although I’d usually buy salsa in glass jars…so I guess this only applies to canned tomatoes)
- Note: Did you know regular canning lids are lined with BPA-laden plastic? If you’re looking for an alternative, try Tattler reusable, BPA-free lids.
- most pesticides (my farmers aren’t 100% organic, but many use as few chemicals as possible)
- refined sugar (use sucanat or another unrefined sweetener, or none)
- table salt (use Celtic or Real Salt)
- When you slice jalapenos, smart people should wear gloves. I know you’re wise like that. You probably won’t just “try” to not touch the seeds and then make this your mantra for the rest of the night: “Don’t touch your eyes. Don’t touch your eyes. Don’t touch your eyes.”
- On food processing for salsa: Make short layers instead of trying to pack it full. It’s easier to get larger pieces that way instead of mush. Also, use the pulse instead of just turning it on. The impact of gravity between each pulse also avoids mush.
- On adjusting recipes: I know you want to “make this your own,” but with canning recipes you can only do so much. It’s important for food safety to have the proper ratio of acidic to non-acidic foods. The tomatoes are acidic, but the peppers, onions, and garlic are not. That’s why you must add the vinegar, and you can’t really mess with the amounts of peppers.You could, however, fiddle with green peppers and colored bells, or sub some of the jalapenos out for a milder pepper if you don’t like it so spicy. Just don’t be too generous with your helpings and overdo the amounts. That’s one thing I love about this recipe – it gives quantities in cups, rather than forcing me to scratch my head and wonder which onion is “small” and which green pepper fits the “medium” category.See this article on Modifying Canning Recipes and Food Safety for more details.
- On adjusting the heat: You can use seeds in part or all of your jalapenos. Seeds add heat; I leave them in about half the peppers. That’s for “hot” salsa! Also, you can seek out hot peppers with more stripes or “cracks” if you like spicy, as they naturally carry a zing.
Finally, without further rambling, I give you:
The Recipe: Mexican Restaurant Salsa
Makes about 6 pints
You could spend all day with a knife and cutting board to chop these many ingredients for a few jars of salsa, or you could form a new relationship with your food processor. Or maybe a neighbor who owns a food processor. Truly. Food process for salsa. It’s not going to be pretty anyway.
Basically, everything is going to go into a big pot to be cooked. It doesn’t really matter in what order the ingredients go into the pot, but I do like to food process from smallest to largest as far as ending size of the pieces. I tend to put the vinegar, tomato paste (in glass jars to avoid BPA!) and spices in first, if only because I’m afraid I’ll forget them at the end and have an incredibly boring (and unsafe) batch of salsa!
Moving on to the food processor, I start with the garlic because you really want that minced well. Pulse thoroughly, then add onion. Adding some or all red onion is just lovely, and tastes great too:
Before I get started with those, I soak all my peppers in a sink full of water with a squirt of Biokleen produce wash (see my review here). The peppers were too floaty, so I sunk them with the tomatoes, thus multitasking my sink anyway.
The peppers come next. After a good scrub, I cut out the seeds, quarter them, and toss them into the food processor. Pulse until they look about like this:
I like to switch up the green a little and mix red peppers in, and sometimes even bananas or Anaheims if I have them.
The tomatoes come last, just because I want to be the most gentle with them, but I guess it’s not all that important. Everything thus far goes from the food processor to the 4-cup measuring cup, then into the pot.
If you want your salsa to have a shot at looking pretty, go ahead and dice the Romas. I’m a dyed-in-wool food processor girl.
Cook the salsa until it’s nice and hot (boiling), and then follow the instructions I posted yesterday for canning tomatoes to fill and process the jars. If it seems too juicy, you can always boil off some of the water first.
The directions with this salsa recipe state: Process 35 minutes. Now that I’ve updated yesterday’s canning tomatoes post with correct, safe information (you should check it out for sure), I would recommend finding a board-approved salsa recipe online and using their processing times. For me, I’m going to process 35 minutes for pints and 40 for quarts and call it good, but I’m crazy like that.
If you have a little bit of salsa left over but not enough to fill a jar, just put it in the fridge and eat it within a few weeks. Yum!
Some of our ultimate favorite Mexican burritos and beans and rice side dishes are found in The Everything Beans Book, 30 recipes that I access probably once a week in our meal planning.
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- Use the food processor for salsa. It’s not going to be pretty anyway.
- Basically, everything is going to go into a big pot to be cooked. It doesn’t really matter in what order the ingredients go into the pot. I tend to put the vinegar, tomato paste and spices in first, if only because I’m afraid I’ll forget them at the end and have an incredibly boring (and unsafe) batch of salsa!
- Moving on to the food processor, I start with the garlic because you really want that minced well, then onion. Adding some or all red onion is just lovely, and tastes great too.
- The peppers come next. After a good scrub, I cut out the seeds, quarter them, and toss them into the food processor. Pulse.
- I like to switch up the green a little and definitely mix red peppers, and sometimes even bananas or Anaheims if I have them.
- If you want your salsa to have a shot at looking pretty, go ahead and dice the Romas. Otherwise food process gently.
- Cook the salsa until it’s nice and hot (boiling), and then follow the instructions I posted yesterday for canning tomatoes (it's important to clean and fill jars correctly if you've not canned before!). If it seems too juicy, you can always boil off some of the water.
- Process 35 minutes for pints and 40 minutes for quarts.
- Makes about 6 pints.
I am still a little scared of canning, enough so that I left a question at this post about headspace in canning jars (for salsa, I think you should leave about 1/2-1 inch, in other words, fill until you reach the bottom of the jar band), and I think you should probably read the canning and food safety post as well.
That said, I’ll be canning salsa again this weekend and intend to fully enjoy the finished product! Try making your own sourdough tortilla chips via the instructions at the GNOWFGLINS eCourse on sourdough (yum!).
Keep a dishcloth handy…
Lest you think I have it all together, please observe the aftermath:
Sigh. Maybe we should plan to go out for Mexican food after I can another double batch this weekend. I’m sure my husband would have no complaints!
And something different: My husband probably wouldn’t let me try this one, because it’s fruit with savory and he doesn’t go for that kind of thing, but Donielle’s cherry tomato salsa looks so intriguing!
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