We live on an old farm in Solana Beach. We have upstairs neighbors and downstairs neighbors and a really huge, as in, unbelievably massive, yard. We share the garden – and the water bill – so naturally, we also share in the bountiful harvest that comes from the plants and vegetables we take care of around here.
Last week, as I sat typing away in my office, my upstairs neighbor dropped off a bucket full of vegetables: tomatoes, peppers, and onions. It was beautiful.
After a quick search on the AllRecipes iPhone app, I found the perfect salsa recipe to test out. It included mason jars (which we had on hand) and massive amounts of tomatoes which was perfect. Except for the fact that I don’t really cook and have never canned anything ever in my life. I modified the recipe slightly. You’ll find it below.
But the veggies would go bad if I didn’t come up with a plan for them, so I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. Actually, that’s not true. I was wearing a sleeveless dress, but I pulled back my hair and got started. No, that’s not true either. I recently cut off about six inches of my hair so it’s no longer the “pull back in a ponytail” length anymore.
Somehow I was able to stall long enough to start the epic preparation while my toddler went in for his daily bath. My husband put him to bed as I was chopping the final ingredients.
I was able to relax while everything simmered on the stove. That is so far from the truth. I had a major mess to clean up once I was done chopping and adding everything to the pot.
After a slight panic about what the hell I was actually doing, I boiled the mason jars – 6 total – and poured the hot salsa into them and sealed them up just prior to climbing into bed for the night. Hearing the sound of the cans popping as I closed my eyes was pretty funny.
My very first experience with canning was a success. I dropped off a jar to each of my neighbor’s today. I can’t wait to test out the salsa later this afternoon. The recipe is the perfect combination of sweet & spicy, making this one something I plan on repeating, a new family tradition.
Here’s the recipe for making homemade salsa fresh from the garden.
- 4-5 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 3 onions, chopped
- 4 jalapeno peppers, chopped (remove seeds for less heat)
- 2 green bell peppers, chopped
- 3 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 6 canning jars with lids and rings
- Submerge tomatoes in boiling water until skin cracks. Remove and peel skin once tomatoes have cooled off.
- Combine chopped onions, tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, green peppers, tomato paste, white vinegar, garlic powder, salt, cayenne pepper, cumin, brown sugar, and white sugar in a large pot.
- Simmer until thick, about 3 hours.
- Sterilize the jars and lids in boiling water for at least 5 minutes. Pour the salsa into the hot, sterilized jars, filling the jars to within 1/4 inch of the top. Wipe the rims of the jars with a moist paper towel to remove any food residue.
- Top with lids, and screw on rings.
- Refrigerate after opening.
- Peppers are optional if you don't want the fire.