Thursday, May 26, 2011

Homemade Salsa | Shelby, TX Food Photographer

Lately our garden has been overflowing with vegetables.  As much as I would love to eat every single tomato that I pick, that's just not possible.  So....I've decided to start making salsa so that we can enjoy the tomatoes throughout the year.  Brad and I LOVE salsa!  In fact, it's one of the ways we judge if a mexican restaurant is going to be good or not.  Salsa is the first indicator.  So when I decided I wanted to make salsa, I wanted it to taste as good or even better than what we like at our favorite mexican restaurants.

I searched all over the web and there are a million recipes, but I wanted to have something that was my own.  I took a little from here and a little from there and came up with a perfect mixture for 2 thumbs up salsa!  When Brad tasted it for the first time, his eyes got really big and I got a thumbs up....the quart that I put up in the fridge last Wednesday is almost gone as I sit here and type this today.  So I was urged to hurry and make some more pronto!  So enough talking, here's how I did it:

First, you want to make sure to use good and ripe tomatoes.  You can get them from the grocery store produce section, but really - those tomatoes HAVE NO TASTE!  So you would be better off going to a farmers market or your neighbors garden and getting some.  When I was growing up on my grandparents tomato farm - the perfect tomatoes for this recipe were called "canners".  They're super red and ripe and very tender.  You'll also start off with some of the usual salsa ingredients here:

Wash your tomatoes thoroughly and plunge them a few at a time into simmering hot water for 1 minute.

 Then after 1 minute submerge in an ice cold water bath.   This will make the tomato skins come off very easily, sometimes it will already start falling off without your help.

Next, you will want to roughly chop the rest of the ingredients.  Here's a little tidbit of info I learned recently from Paula Deen.  When I used to chop bell pepper, I always sliced off the top by the stem and threw it away.  Well, Paula said that you can push the stem out and use the rest of the top!  All you do is use your finger to push the stem through - what a great way to use ALL of your bell pepper!

This salsa has a really mild heat factor - with a nice jalepeno flavor.  This is because I remove all the seeds and membrane from the jalepenos.  However, if you're a lover of fire hot salsa, then please leave all the seeds in there - you're brave :)

Then you will process these ingredients in a food processor or blender.  I don't own a food processor - even though I think it would be really nice to have, I really have no extra room for that - so I just use a blender.  If you decide to use your blender too, make sure to take some of your skinned tomatoes and blend them up first so that there is liquid to help move the other stuff around.  If not your blender will start smoking and you'll end up with a crazy mess - trust me! :) Please remember - only use a FEW of the tomatoes for this - the remaining tomatoes will need to be set aside.

After chopping your tomatoes, place them in a pot and then pour in your blended mixture of veggies.  This mixture will look frothy and pink and you're going to think you really screwed up.

Don't worry - this is EXACTLY what you're looking for - pink/frothy = good!

Stir the veggie puree mix and the chopped tomatoes and add your vinegar and salt.  Since I made those pickles last week and have this huge box of canning/pickling salt, that's the kind I use.

However, if you don't have that, just use regular iodized salt - it'll be fine.

Bring to a boil.  Then, turn your heat to low and put a lid on the pot and simmer for 20 mins.  You'll notice at the end of 20 minutes, all the bubbly frothy stuff will be gone.  Turn off the heat and add the chopped cilantro and stir.

At this point, you will want to taste the salsa to see if it needs more salt for your taste preference.  Now, you can start canning as usual or you can let the mixture cool and keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks - or you can cool the mixture and place in ziploc bags and store in the freezer.  This is a really easy option.  Make sure to use sandwich sized bags and you'll have a perfect serving amount for a group of 3-4 to snack on or have with dinner.  When you're ready to use it, just throw the frozen bag in the fridge overnight or for a few hours and it's ready to eat.   Muy Delicioso!

Homemade Salsa

2 quarts of ripe tomatoes
1 medium bell pepper
2 jalepenos
1 medium onion
4 garlic cloves
¼ c vinegar
1 Tbsp salt (use more to your salt preference)
¼ c cilantro chopped

Please make sure to use ripe tomatoes – sometimes referred to as “canners” at your local farmers market.  They are very red and tender.  Wash tomatoes so that they are free from any dirt.  Then peel tomatoes by dropping them into simmering water for 1 minute and then immediately immerse into an ice cold water bath.  Skin should fall off easily.

In the meantime, use a food processor or blender to chop the bell pepper, jalapenos, onion and garlic.  If using a blender, make sure to put a few tomatoes in the bottom and puree them so that there will be liquid to move the other ingredients around in the blender. 

Do not put all tomatoes in the food processor or blender – cube the remaining tomatoes and put them in a pot with the ingredients that you chopped in the food processor.  Add vinegar and salt and bring to a boil.  At first the mixture will look frothy and pink – you are on the right track – this is good.

Once the mixture comes to a boil, turn burner to low and simmer with a lid for 20 minutes.   Turn off heat and add chopped cilantro and stir.  Taste to see if any additional salt is needed.  It is now ready to eat, or you can put it in a quart jar and can it based on the Ball Book of Canning or you can cool the mixture down and keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.  Another option is to let it cool and freeze it in a Ziploc bag – then when you’re ready to use it, place the bag in the refrigerator to thaw.  Enjoy!

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