DIY Home Canning - Make Your Own Summer Salsa

Time for a break from fashion history and new Compass Rose Jewelry collections - make way for garden tomatoes. It's just about that time of year for summer salsa! The tomatoes in my garden are just beginning to ripen. If you've never canned before, don't be afraid! It's just about having the right tools and learning the timing. Salsa is a great place to start since the acidity of tomatoes makes them easy to work with and there's no need to worry about pectin as with jams and jellies.

You will need these basic canning tools:
(available at your local hardware store or on the internet)

  • A water bath canner (this is just a big pot with a shelf you can raise)
  • jar lifter
  • jar funnel
  • canning jars
  • lids (cannot be reused) + lid rims (can be reused)

The recipe is from my mother in law and it is awesome! This is a situation where great ingredients make a big difference. I've definitely supplemented with store bought tomatoes in a pinch, but fresh garden and farmers market produce will make a MUCH tastier salsa. I also like to use at least 3 or 4 types of peppers including a couple of medium spice varieties to give some complexity to the spice - but take care not to get carried away.

You can choose whether you want a chunkier or finer salsa. I tend to use the magic handi-slicer on everything but the tomatoes - the type of chopper you'd see in a late night infomercial - it works wonders since there is a good bit of chopping involved. Don't forget that gloves or wearing plastic bags on your hands will prevent your skin from getting burned from the peppers.\

  • Chop and heat the ingredients (I tend to cook it less than an hour before canning.)
  • Start your hot water bath canner and another large pot for sterilizing jars
  • Clean & sterilize your jars, wither in the dishwasher or in a water bath and fill them when they are hot!
  • Ladle hot salsa into jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace (room from top of jar). 
  • Remove air bubbles by gently running  a wooden spoon around the inside edge of the jar. 
  • Wipe rims with a clean damp cloth.
  • Center lids on jars. 
  • Apply bands and adjust to fingertip tight. 
  • Process the jars in boiling water canner for 25-30 minutes, adjusting for altitude. 
  • Remove with the jar lifter and place on a flat surface to let them cool. DO NOT TOUCH or fuss with the lids - you'll want to hear the lids popping. After 24 hours, check the lids - they should not move up and down when pressed in the center. If they did not seal, you can reprocess them or open up a bag of chips.

Your salsa will last up to a year - and is great to have on hand for guests and to spice up beans, soups or other dishes. Mostly, it's a sheer delight to taste summer all year long.

Here are a few home canning resources:
Nation Center For Home Food Preservation
Step by Step Directions to Home Canning

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