Have you ever found yourself in possession of over 200 pounds of tomatoes and fuzzily wondered how this had happened?
This happened to me in mid-August and only now has the trauma healed enough for me to be able to tell the tale. I will start by pointing out that it was 210 pounds of tomatoes, to be exact. They were procured at the same food auction where Mom and I bought 2 and ½ bushels of peaches the week earlier. We only had a vague idea of what we wanted to do with all the juicy red orbs, but my desire was obvious and my terms specific as I repeatedly raised my auction number and bid on those bushels.
It took nearly a week to finish canning all of them, because we had to wait for several to ripen. This is what I finally ended up with (Mom canned her share slightly differently): 19 quart jars of quartered tomatoes, 20 pint jars of sauce, 6 pints of Mexican-seasoned tomatoes and 6 pints of Italian-seasoned tomatoes.
I had intended to make more salsa, but when the time came I just wanted to get the damn tomatoes in the jar. Now, two months later, I’m kicking myself for not stockpiling salsa; my supply is running frighteningly low. I had a request from Jill at Unperfect Garden for my salsa recipe. It is from my trusty Ball canning book.
Fresh Vegetable Salsa (makes about ten 8-oz jars or five pint jars)
7 cups chopped cored peeled tomatoes
2 cups coarsely chopped onion
1 cup coarsely chopped green bell pepper
8 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 can (5.5oz) tomato paste
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup loosely packed finely chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp ground cumin
In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine all the ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare your canner, jars and lids.
Ladle hot salsa into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process both 8-ounce and pint jars for 20 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait five minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.
Unlike my father, I abhor eating tomatoes by themselves (Dad likes them with a sprinkling of salt). I do otherwise love them, though, and I believe I will try my hand at canning them again next year, if only to supply myself with a year’s worth of salsa!