Garden tomatoes are ripening and soon the saucy scent of simmering salsa will be wafting from my kitchen. For those of you who’ve asked, here’s the recipe!
Salsa was my very first venture into canning. The initial result was decent, but my husband said, “It’s good, but not as good as Donald’s.”
Donald was a teammate in rec hockey. When it was snack night, the other players always counted on Donald bringing his salsa. One fall, I asked if would share his recipe. He didn’t really have one, but gave me some direction, “Blanche and peel tomatoes until the pot is full.” Okay, how big a pot? “5 quarts, I think.”
He offered some rough guesstimates on the amount of peppers, onion and celery, and said he’d often add some oregano and basil. My garden herbs are usually past their prime by the time I make salsa and I found it didn’t really make a difference, so I omit them.
I did my best to follow his guidance, added more peppers and onions to get the ratio I preferred, and this is the result.
You can do the same thing here. Adjust the recipe to your taste, or what you have on hand, and make it your own!
I know this is a lot of chopping, and yes, you can use a food processor if your really want, but it’s not what I recommend. I prefer to have the veggies more intact in my salsa. Chop according to the size and consistency you prefer.
It does take time, but if you put on a good playlist or podcast, pour a beverage of choice and/or enlist someone to help, the time goes by fast. And trust me, the results are worth it!
This recipe has received rave reviews from friends and family. It’s made its way into many care packages and is often a gift when we’re invited out to dinner. One set of friends actually hides it when their adult kids come over to visit so they don’t have to share!
It’s been called, “The best salsa ever!”, but I’m not sure about that. I think I must be a missing secret ingredient, because I never did manage to get quite as good as Donald’s!
- 12 cups peeled & chopped fresh tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons pickling salt
- 4 cups chopped onions
- 2 cups chopped celery
- 4 cups chopped peppers (8 to 12 seeded & chopped jalapeno peppers plus enough green, red or yellow peppers to make 4 cups in total)
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
- 1 1/2 cups pickling vinegar
- 1 — 156 ml can tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
Set a standard, 5-quart, colander in a large bowl. Peel and chop tomatoes until colander is heaping full (about 12 cups). Sprinkle with 2 tbsp pickling salt and set aside to drain while you prepare your other vegetables.
Chop onions, celery, peppers and garlic. Check the colander of tomatoes, if there’s a large amount of juice in the bowl, remove 1 to 1 1/2 cups and set aside. (See note below.*)
Combine chopped tomatoes, remaining juice, celery, onions, spices and vinegar in a 5-quart dutch oven or large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes.
Add chopped peppers and garlic. Simmer another 20 to 30 minutes. Add tomato paste to thicken. Stir well and simmer another 5 to 10 minutes. Pour into sterilized jars and process in hot water bath for 15 minutes. Set on a cooling rack for 24 hours.
Enjoy with your favourite corn chips, on tacos, nachos, burgers, baked potatoes, in omelettes or soups — wherever you want a bit of zip and a taste of summer from the garden!
*Note: The amount of liquid will depend on the the variety of tomatoes you’re using. If you’re using all roma tomatoes (they are fleshier with less juice) this likely isn’t necessary, but I use a mix of varieties from my garden. Setting the excess juice aside prevents a watery salsa and reduces boiling time. You can always add more back in at the end to get your desired consistency. I freeze the leftover juice to add to soups in the winter.