The Capsaicin Menace
They got me. Day Three of the Salsa Surge was brutal. By days end the kitchen was destroyed, my feet hurt, it was very very hot, and I still had one last 2.5 gallon bucket of peppers giving me the stink eye. I ended up putting that bucket in the fridge and then laying on the couch in a heap.
Who's idea was it anyway to get 197 pounds of peppers? Sheesh!
Making salsa is actually a really fun canning project - as long as you aren't doing it for 3 days in a row. And it is a great way to get started in canning. You don't need a pressure canner - just a big, deep pot to boil the jars in... and you can easily grow or purchase everything you need to make a batch of salsa.
My own peppers waiting to sacrifice themselves in the Great Pepper War
I'm partial the Ball Blue Book's zesty salsa. If you don't have the book, I found the recipe online here. This basic recipe goes pretty fast and you can always spice it up later when you use it. I really love this Black Bean and Corn Salsa. I just open a can of our home made salsa, a can of our home canned black beans, and toss in a handful of frozen corn (picked fresh, grilled, then popped in the freezer) and some spices. Its a great taste of summer anytime.
So much salsa....
The only thing about canning salsa is that you have to follow the directions and the measurements to the letter. While you might be tempted to toss in a few extra tomatoes, or use more garlic, the food safety mavens all agree that you need to use the same proportions to ensure nothing goes wrong. I really like the Pick Your Own website - here - for food preservation information. They have easy to follow instructions and have a lot of pictures.
Some folks are nervous about canning - but following the directions for an approved recipe to the letter is the best way to make sure your home canned products turn out perfect every time. You can also check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation for a detailed explanation of why you should follow an approved recipe.
I know some people who use those packages of salsa mix to make their home canned salsa. To me it seems pretty expensive and you know how I feel about industrialized food. I think the value of these mixes is that you only have to add the tomatoes (and vinegar). But for me the tomato peeling and chopping takes the most time so I don't think I'd be saving that much time. For me the onions and peppers are a breeze. Plus I like having chunky style salsa so having some kind of reconstituted onions and peppers seems a little odd to me. But some folks like it and if that works then superduper.
In addition to the cauldrons of salsa, I also used the instructions for blanching and freezing sliced peppers on the Pick Your Own site. Later today I'll fire up the grill and will roast the rest of the peppers - they will be frozen in slices to be used in cooking all winter. Thanks for that tip - you know who you are!
Hope everyone is enjoying their Friday! Now back to the Great Pepper War! Charge!