The first time I made it, I did it to support my sister who wanted to have a cooking day together. I wasn't fast enough to come up with an alternative to canning salsa. I was thinkin, "Why are we doing this? Yes I'm Mormon, Yes my mother and.... probably a ton of pioneer relatives canned... stuff, but that is why the good lord invented Pace picante sauce in three different sized jars." I chopped onions and I chopped peppers while my sister Lisa busied herself, and I thought, "You crazy woman. Why. On. Earth." And then I had some. MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM! Oh my word. OH MY WORD! SO GOOD! So amazingly good!!
Good grief, I gotta go eat some right now while I write about it. BRB. !#@!&%$##! Its 10 pm and WE ARE OUT OF CHIPS! GOSH DARN IT! I told Matthew that we could open a jar of salsa if would go out and get some chips. Yah. The garage door is going up. And now I'm like a nervous smoker 3 days after they tried to quit. "C'moooooon. C'mon! HURRY IT UP!"
Anyway. Here is what you need to start: One batch of this recipe will make 8 pint jars. NOT. WORTH IT. Double batch is worth it. Triple batch will get you through til Christmas. Unless you eat it all before then. By YOURSELF. But, hey lil' red hen. You put in the work, you get the rewards. *checks watch* Its been 1 minute and 22 seconds, WHERE IS HE!?
Unless you have your own (and first time out I didn't) canning jars, go out and get some canning jars. And a funnel that will fit into the top of the lids. If you don't have some of this stuff, borrow. I don't have my own jars or funnel. I just keep borrowing Lisa's and waiting for someone to get me one for Christmas. YES. This will feel TOTALLY WEIRD, especially as the checkout kid looks at the jars and looks at you as though he was expecting his GRAMMA. "Just ring it up Skippy!" Just, just ignore him.
One Batch = 8 pint jars. Multiply for however much you need. Which is never enough, but I'm gonna make you do the math in your head anyway - so here we go!
7 lbs of Roma tomatoes. WARNING: IF you get those beef steak tomatoes and try to use them cuz they were on sale, or someone gave 'em to you, you will be SO SORRY. You will not have salsa, you will have flavored WATER. Romas are meatier. THAT'S what you want.
1 lb Onion - White, yellow, doesn't matter. Unless you feel it will matter to you, then use whatever you like.
2 lbs Anaheim Peppers. You may very well clear out their entire pepper selection. Feel free to ask Skippy Jr if there is more in the back.
1/2 C Vinegar - apple cider, or white. All tastes good.
1/2 C Lime Juice - for freshness!
2 TBS NON IODIZED SALT. Yes, this is in CAPS so that you'll get the feeling that I'm yelling it at you. I don't know WHY it has to be NON IODIZED, but Lisa says that all salsa recipes insist on it. So. I'm not gonna ruin all this over the wrong salt.
1 TBS Cumin - some people are haters, but it works MAGIC in this recipe.
2 tsp (smaller than a TBS!) Garlic powder.
A stock pot. Borrow one if you have to. A clean rag. A soup ladle (for ladling salsa into the jars), a slotted spoon big enough to pick up a roma tomato out of hot boiling water, a good sharp knife or food processor that reliably CHOPS (not liquefies), plastic gloves, or something that you can chop peppers in, and an apron in case you are super messy. Or just want to feel like its part of canning. Or just looks cute on you.
STEP ONE: Dealing with tomatoes.
Now let me just say here, that if you get past this step, the rest is cake. Dealing the tomatoes is the biggest pain in the a@@. If you can get through this, you will be SET. Its not hard, it just takes time.
We're gonna take the skins off those tomatoes. *nods* All of them.
If you are doing a triple batch, then just do this step alone the day before you want to actually put things in jars so you are not uber tired and/or depressed. If you find that you are talking to yourself, you have done too many tomatoes. Two batches can be a marathon, but doable in the same day you want to can them if you have a friend there to talk with you. And for just one batch - what the heck! I told you one batch wasn't worth it!
Start a big pot to boiling. Get another big bowl and make ice water to put the tomatoes in after you've boiled off some skin.
Take each tomato, and put an "x" on the bottom. Also known as "scoring," the whole point of this is to make it easier for you to take the skin off. Don't hack into the thing, and don't do a tiny dainty "x." Cut through the skin in a longish "x" so that when the hot water makes the skin start to peel back, you can grab it with your paring knife and peel off a whole bunch of the skin without having to hack into the tomato. When you feel like you can't stand to make one more longish "x" the water should be boiling. Take about 12 tomatoes and drop them in the boiling water. Marvel at your canning prowess, and set a timer for about 2 minutes. Go make some more longish "x"s on the non-boiled tomatoes.
MULTI-TASKING ALERT: There are three stations here.
- The tomatoes on the counter.
- The tomatoes in the boiling water, and then
- the tomatoes in the ice bath.
- Oh. And then the scored/skinned/rough chopped tomatoes in the stock pot.
- After the tomatoes skin starts to peel back on that first dozen, take them out of the hot water with your slotted spoon, and dump them in the ice water bath.
- Put in another 12 X'd tomatoes to boil, and then grab your paring knife.
- Make a few more longish x's on your other tomatoes until the boiled tomatoes cool for a sec or two.
- Go back to the water bath and pick up a slightly cooked, (with an x on the bottom,) tomato that should have the skin starting to peel away like old paint. Start taking off the skins. I drop the skins in the sink, and chop 'em in my hand, and repeat. Once all of the skin is off, core the sucker, and either put it on a chopping board to "rough cut it (or cut in 1/2 twice), or just hold it in your hand and cut it in half, and then cut it in half again. Do not cut your hand. Drop it in your stock pot.
- Process all of your tomatoes until they are all safely scored/skinned and rough chopped in the stock pot. Sit for a few minutes. Feel good about what you've done!
STEP TWO: Dealing with Onions and PEPPERS
Chop/dice the onions first. Easy. Toss them on the tomatoes in the stock pot. If you have done a triple batch or more, and don't think that all of your ingredients will fit, then just be smart and put 1/2 the onions in with 1/2 the tomatoes etc. Most stock pots will hold a double batch of this recipe of salsa.
A guy I know, for example, decided to chop some hot peppers, and scoffed at the idea of doing it in anything but bare hands. "Commando." I can't remember if he itched AND had to go to the bathroom, or just had to go to the bathroom, but the sound that emanated from behind that bathroom door after a few seconds had dogs barking hysterically around the block for miles. And if you just have an itch, have someone itch for you, or take your gloves off.
Cut off the heads of each pepper. About an inch down. Huck the end in the garbage. With remaining long pepper, cut it in half. FISH OUT THE SEEDS. Yes, I'm yelling at you, because I didn't remove them once. SEEDS ARE HOT!!! Take the peppers and just dice 'em up. Toss 'em in the pot.
Turn on the stove to a simmer. You can start at a 7/9 heat. You're just boiling it all down. The more you boil, the more concentrated it becomes. Add all of the other ingredients: Salt, cumin, lime juice, vinegar, and garlic powder. Stir. Stir. Stir, and admire. Stir.
Start cookin' an stirring. The heat blends all of this numminess, and breaks down the tomatoes from big hunks to small hunks, but you can't let it just boil - that will burn the bottom of your pot. Stir, and keep an eye on it. After awhile, you will see the color deepen, and there will be smaller and smaller chunks of tomato. I LOVE the big bits of tomato. LOVE LOVE LOVE. Lisa's kids, not so much. So, cook it down, simmering with the lid OFF, until it looks about like this.
NOW YOU ARE READY TO CAN!
Open up that box of cans. Nervously take the plastic wrap off. Start taking off the lids and rings. SAVE THEM! You want to soften the rubber on the lids, so put just them in warm simmering water. BE EVER SO CAREFUL. The lids like to mate. And suddenly, you have 2 jars left and no lids. Yep. Somewhere in there you put on a couple of double lids. They are sneakier than teenagers!
Line up 3 glass jars. Ladle each one full to the top of the big rim, but not to the top of the neck. Don't stick it in the neck, you need a little space for it to seal. Wipe off the top of each jar with a WET rag. Fish a lid out (check to make sure its a single), and put it on. Screw down with the ring.
SEALING: You can do this one of two ways. The hard way, or the easy way.
Hard: You can stick each jar into a bath of boiling hot water about an inch above the lid and wait for it to suck in and pop. Or
Easy: Turn it upside down and let the heat from the boiling salsa seal itself somewhere in the night.
How can I tell if its sealed or not? Well, if you can bounce your finger up and down, like a finger on a lid trampoline on the middle of the lid the next morning, it did not seal. Eat it. If it doesn't, then its sealed. You can hide that baby in your secret secret spot, cuz baby, you just made salsa! I have just eaten my way through half a jar. And I'm gonna go lie down and have some salsa dreams. Soooo gooooooood. :D