LIVING WELL: Liven up your summer with salsa
by Cecelia Hostilo, Columnist
Aug 06, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tomatoes are in season, and like most home gardeners, you may have more than you know what to do with. A great way to use excess tomatoes, peppers, onions, and other ingredients is by making salsa that you can enjoy fresh now, or preserve for use through the remainder of the year.

Salsas are usually mixtures of high acid foods such as tomatoes or fruit with low acid foods such as peppers and onions. With the addition of lemon juice, lime juice, citric acid, or vinegar in the right proportion, salsa becomes a high acid food that can be safely processed in a boiling water canner. As with any other food, make sure you choose a salsa recipe that is research-based and meant for home canning. These recipes have been tested for their food safety and will ensure that you use the right temperature for the appropriate length of time. Other salsa recipes, found on the internet, in cookbooks or from family recipes, should not be canned. Enjoy those salsa fresh, or freeze them for longer storage.

It is also important that you do not change the proportion of ingredients in the recipes. You may substitute one variety of peppers for another in the same amount (bell peppers for jalapeños for milder salsa). Likewise, red, yellow, or white onions may be used as long as the total amount of onion remains the same. Green tomatoes can be substituted for red tomatoes, but the flavor will be different. The amount of lemon juice, lime juice, or vinegar should never be changed. To ensure a safe level of acidity in the final product, use only bottled lemon or lime juice and commercial vinegar that is at least 5% acidity. Sugar can be safely added, and herbs and spices can be varied.

The canning process is one that is fairly simple. Certain steps must be followed to ensure safety of the final product. Begin by assembling all your equipment, utensils, and ingredients. You may disrupt the cooking or canning process if you have to stop to hunt supplies. Examine all jars, lids, and bands for defects. Wash jars and two-piece caps in hot, soapy water and rinse well. Place lids, bands, and jars in simmering water. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the lids and jars to remain in the hot water until needed. Do not boil the lids. Dry the bands and set aside.

Fill the boiling water canner half full of clean warm water. Center the canner over the burner and preheat the water to 180°F. Begin preparing the recipe while the water is preheating. It will take 20-30 minutes for the water to begin to boil.

It is important to use top-quality ingredients. Wash fresh produce well. Prepare the salsa by following the directions given in the recipe.

Immediately fill the hot jars with the hot salsa, leaving the headspace specified in the recipe, usually 1⁄2-inch. Remove the air bubbles and adjust the headspace if necessary by adding hot salsa. Wipe the jar rims with a dampened clean paper towel. Center the lids on the jars and apply bands fingertip tight. Do not over-tighten the bands.

Load the filled jars into the canner using a jar lifter. Keep the jars upright at all times. Add boiling water to cover the jars by one or two inches. Increase the heat so the water boils vigorously and place the lid on the canner. Begin the timing process when the water has reached a full boil. Set a timer for the totally number of minutes indicated in the recipe. The water must remain at a boil the entire processing time. Add boiling water is necessary to keep the water level at least one inch above the jar tops.

When the processing time specified in the recipe is complete, turn off the heat and remove the canner lid. Wait five minutes before removing the jars. Carefully remove the jars, keeping them upright. Place them on a towel, leaving a one-inch space between jars for proper cooling. After 12 to 24 hours, test the seals and remove the bands.

Wash the outside of the jars and lid surfaces. Store sealed jars in a cool, dark, dry place for up to 2 years. Use the product within one year for best quality. If jars do not seal, refrigerate and use the contents within one week.

A little time spent with safe canning procedures will allow you to enjoy your salsa through the winter months.

Traditional Salsa

7 cups diced, seeded, peeled, cored tomatoes

6 cups green onions, sliced

2 jalapeños peppers, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1⁄2 cup vinegar

2 tablespoons bottled lime juice

4 drops hot pepper sauce

2 tablespoons minced cilantro

2 teaspoons salt

Prepare tomatoes: Peel tomatoes by dropping into boiling water for 30-60 seconds or until the skins begin to split. Remove from the boiling water and dip immediately into cold water. The skins will slip off easily. Remove the core and seeds and dice.

Combine the ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Ladle hot salsa into hot pint or half-pint jars, leaving 1⁄2-inch head space. Remove air bubbles and adjust the headspace if needed. Wipe jar rims with a dampened clean paper towel; apply two-piece metal caps. Process 15 minutes in a boiling water canner.

Yield: about 4 pints or 8 half-pint jars

Nutritional Analysis (2 tablespoons): 5 calories; 0g fata; 1 g carbohydrate; 0g protein

Pineapple Chili Salsa

4 cups cubed, seeded, peeled papaya

2 cups canned pineapple pieces, drained, juice reserved (about one 20-ounce can)

1 cup golden raisins

1⁄2 cup chopped, seeded, Anaheim, pablano, or hot banana peppers

2 tablespoons minced green onion

2 tablespoons minced cilantro

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 cup bottled lemon juice

1 cup bottled lime juice

1⁄2 cup reserved pineapple juice

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

Ladle hot salsa into hot half-pint jars, leaving 1⁄2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe jar rims with a dampened clean paper towel; apply two-piece metal caps. Process 15 minutes in boiling water canner.

Yield: about 6 half-pint jars.

Nutritional Analysis (2 tablespoons): 25 calories; 0 g fat; 6 g carbohydrate; 0 g protein

Peach Apple Salsa

6 cups peeled, chopped (1/2-inch) Roma tomatoes

2 1⁄2 cups diced (1/4-inch) yellow onions

2 cups cored, seeded, diced (1/4-inch) green bell peppers

10 cups peeled, pitted, chopped (1/2-inch) hard, unripe peaches

2 cups peeled, cored, chopped (1/2-inch) Granny Smith apples

4 tablespoons mixed pickling spice, tied in a spice bag

1 tablespoon canning salt

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

3 3⁄4 cups packed light brown sugar

2 1⁄4 cups cider vinegar

Combine tomatoes, onions, and peppers in a large sauce pan.

Prepare peaches and apples: Prepare ascorbic acid solution (1500 mg in half gallon water). Peel and pit peaches; cut into halves and soak for 10 minutes in ascorbic acid solution. Peel and core apples; cup into halves and soak for 10 minutes in ascorbic acid solution. After soaking and draining, quickly chop peaches and apples to prevent browning. Add chopped peaches and apples to the sauce pan with the vegetables.

Add the pickling spice bag to the sauce pan; stir in the salt, red pepper flakes, brown sugar, and vinegar. Bring to a boil, stirring gently to mix ingredients. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove spice bag and discard.

With a slotted spoon, fill salsa solids into hot pint jars, leaving 1 1⁄4-inch headspace. Cover with the cooking liquid, leaving 1⁄2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust the headspace if needed. Wipe jar rims with a dampened clean paper towel; apply two-piece metal caps. Process 15 minutes in a boiling water canner.

Yield: about 7 pint jars

Nutritional Analysis (2 tablespoons): 35 calories, 0 g fat, 9 g carbohydrate; 0 g protein

For more information about this or any other subject, contact Cecelia Hostilo at the Trigg County Extension Office by calling 522-3269. Information and recipes for this article was obtained from the Cooperative Extension Services of the University of Kentucky’s publication “Home Canning Salsa” by Sandra Bastin, Ph.D, R.D., L.D., C.C.E, Extension Specialist in Food and Nutrition and Debbie Clouthier, BS, Extension Associate.

Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.
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