Before heading to the coast last week, my hook-up for canning/pickling veggies called and informed me that she had set aside 60 pounds of tomatoes for me to pick up. Whoa, OK. I can do this I can do this. Conveniently, my tomato and pickling cucumber hook-up is on the way to Florence, located in darling little Walton on HWY 126, Morning Glory Farm Stand. Good timing!
Now, I make homemade canned salsa every year. Many years it’s one of numerous foodstuffs I water bath can. Except this year. This year I’ve been incredibly NOT into water bath canning. Why? Because I found fermentation, yo. There are less risks of burns with fermentation AND the food I put up is alive and much healthier than, say, a jar of pickled cucumbers with all the sugar and canning salt it contains. Or, you could just say I’ve been HELLA lazy this year and when it was time to pickle cucumbers it was WAY too hot – and I’ll totally own that. But, I HAVE to can salsa. They way you eventually HAVE to change out of your pajamas on a Monday. Sure, it doesn’t sound fun, but eventually, you’ll feel a whole lot better about yourself once you do.
So, on the way home from the coast we picked up 60 pounds of tomatoes, a big white garbage bag packed full of peppers (Anaheim, jalapeño, and and assortment of hulking bell peppers), onions, and headed home. I WISH I would have snapped a pic of the contents of my trunk on the drive back home from the farm stand – hilariously full of vegetables! The car was literally so full the dog had to sit on the kiddo’s lap!
While you could ferment salsa, it’s recommended you don’t ferment tomatoes (too much sugar and things get funky) – but you can ferment the peppers and add the tomatoes at a later date. Man, that almost sounds like as much work as water bath canning. So yeah, I made my usual “Zesty Salsa” from the trusty Ball Book.
Now, with 60 pounds of tomatoes looming around me I had to act rather quickly. Saturday I blanched and peeled the tomatoes and added the vinegar so they wouldn’t oxidize too much while I refrigerated them overnight. It took almost 4 hours to do just the tomato processing – so obviously I decided Sunday would be the day to process the rest of the ingredients and do the water bathing. <—can I say that? Eh.
Again, I’m hella lazy, so I process my peppers, onions, garlic, and cilantro in a food processor. I clean and cut the veg into one inch square items, then pulse away. This does result in a more “mushy” consistency, but, it also makes the salsa less water-y – I do make sure I don’t pulse too much or that would result in nastiness. The Anaheim peppers my husband roasts on the grill outside (it happened to be pouring down rain while he was outside roasting!), and he also roasted 1/2 of the red bell peppers I used. If I roasted the tomatoes (if I used roma or san marzano) AND the onions I’m sure it would result in a more complex and yummy salsa, but hey, remember how I’m lazy and making salsa with 60 pounds of tomatoes is already enough work, y’all!? I definitely do recommend roasting as much of your ingredients as you can – it’s makes for a truly bomb salsa. Just not the cilantro – that would be gross.
I figured that I made a quadruple batch of the Zesty Salsa. It cumulatively took 8 hours to make, but resulted in a 1/2 gallon of salsa for the refrigerator and 26, 1/2 pint jars for the larder. They are GOLD I tell you! And such a treat to crack open a jar in cold and bleak January, to be treated by a tasty jar of summer goodness.
Do you have a home canned item you make every year? If so, please share!