Introduction: Canning Tomatoes: Roasted Salsa

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Canning is a fun and exciting way of preserving fall's fresh flavors year round, and it is much easier then people think. Aside from some the necessary canning jars and lids, you can hack together the rest of the equipment with things laying around your kitchen. When canning, you're generally doing things in bulk, which means more time. My roasted salsa is a time saving solution, to help those of us with busy schedules, enjoy slow food for fast living. In this instructable, I'm going to show how I canned my salsa. If you follow these instructions, you'll find canning to be easy and rewarding!


Step 1: Gather Ingredients

In the fall, the best quality vegetables are available for cheap. This is the time of year to pull out the canning jars and get to work. I'm lucky enough to have parents with a big garden who usually get way too much produce to take care of themselves. If you have a garden, you may know how much work they can be, so my parents are only too happy to send things home with me. Even though I have to take the Amtrak to see them, I was still able to slug a 50 lb bag of tomatoes home with me.

I was super happy to have that many tomatoes, but being a busy person, I didn't have much time to spend processing them. As they were super ripe and fading fast, I needed a quick solution. My answer was to roast them with some peppers and onions to make a salsa. WIth roasting, the tomatoes and vegetables cook down so a quick pulse in the food processor takes care of what hours of chopping would. Then by canning the salsa, I can enjoy it all through the winter. Its so easy, anyone can do it.

Step 2: Gather Your Ingredients

For my salsa, I used about:

25 lbs of tomaotes
5 lbs of tomatillos
5 Jalapeno peppers, seeds removed
5 pablano peppers
2-3 red bell peppers
5-6 large onions
1 whole head of garlic
1-2 tbs of cumin
1-2 tbs of chilli pepper
1 tbs of kosher salt
2-3 tsp of black pepper

I don't really measure things, going mostly by feel, but these measurements are pretty accurate. With seasonings, you want enough so it cooks into salsa, but perhaps its better to err on less then more as you can easily add more seasoning after its done cooking to fine tune the flavor.

Step 3: Clean Tomaotes

Using a paring knife, core tomatoes, removing the stem area. Cut out any bruised or rotten parts of tomato as well.

Step 4: Prepare Tomatillos

Tomatillos are like a mix between a tomato and a pepper. To prepare them, you peel away the husk and rise off any sticky residue under the faucet. With a paring knife, core like a tomato.

Step 5: Cut Your Vegetables and Mix Ingredients Together

The best thing about roasted salsa is you don't have to sit around and cut everything into small bite size chunks. I hate cutting tomatoes, because no matter how sharp your knife, its just a pain. Your knife slides around and your hands get all pruney. With roasted salsa, your vegetables will cook down, so you just need to roughly chop.

Tomatoes and tomatillos: You don't necessarily need to cut up your tomatoes or tomatillos unless they are really big. You might want to cut them in half and quarters depending on size. If you aren't sure, just cut them in half.

Onions: Remove ends, cut in half and do a rough slice.

Peppers: Cut in half and remove seeds.

Garlic: separate into cloves and remove skin.

In a roaster, mix vegetables with spices and olive oil.

Step 6: Roast Salsa

Roast Salsa at 300 degrees for 2-3 hours or until vegetables are cooked down.

Place roasted salsa in a food processor and mix with a couple quick pulses until a chunky suace forms a salsa consistency.

At this point, I usually always add the juice of 2-3 limes for flavor and to increase the acidity level to make it safe for canning. You can also add a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.

Taste your salsa and add any extra seasonings to get it be just how you like it. A little more salt? Maybe some more chilli or hot sauce? Or perhaps a bit of sugar?

Your salsa is done. Now its time to can it!

Step 7: Tools

You will need to purchase or acquire canning specific jars and lids. Bell Jars are the most common. The lids come with a seal top and a ring that twists onto top of the jar to hold on lid with the seal. You can find these products at some grocery stores or hardware stores. Not everyone carries them anymore, but perhaps just try calling stores ahead before going to purchase to make sure. Purchasing jars are a solid investment because you can just keep reusing them again and again, only replacing the lid seals.

Once you have the Jars though, its not absolutely mandatory to have other canning specific tools. Items which help are a canning pot with a rack made to hold canning jars as well as tongs shaped for grabbing jars.

I don't have a canning specific pot or rack. I just use a large 5 gallon aluminum stock pot, we got a long time ago for brewing beer. I think we bought it at a local grocery store for about $15. If you don't have one, you can use a large soup pot. As you need the boiling water to cover your jars 2 inches or at the very least an inch, you may not be able to can pint or quart jars in this, but you will be able to use the smaller cup jars, which will work for salsa.

A canning rack is used to keep the jars away from touching the bottom and sides of the hot metal pot. Because I don't have a rack, I just put a dish towel at the bottom of the pot and sit the jars on top of the towel to keep the jars from having contact with the hot metal. It works fine, although slightly annoying. I have canned without the towel before when I was so annoyed with the towel, and I didn't have any jars break, but I wouldn't suggest this for any jars which require more processing time.

I recently got canning tongs, but before that, I used regular kitchen tongs. You can improvise with what you have.

Step 8: Canning Hacks

To simplify a bit from all the info in the last step:

If you don't have a canning pot:

You can use any of the following pots as long as they are big enough for your jars. You can't use anything smaller then a stock pot for the quart jars, but you can use the shorter soup pot for the 1/2 cup jars. In terms of pot size, you just want to make sure you have a couple inches above the top of the jar as they should be submerged in water at least an inch or two.

If you don't have a canning rack:

You can use a circular wire rack in your pot. This picture I got off the internet, as my wire racks don't fit in my pot. Ignore the ties, as this pic was for a different purpose, but you can place this rack at the bottom of your pot and it will keep the jars away from the heated bottom as well as allow circulation of water around jars.

You can also use my method of a dish towel as a buffer to keep jars away from bottom

If you don't have canning tongs:

You may have any of these other kitchen tongs which work fine.

Step 9: Sterilize Jars and Lids

Boil enough water in a large pot so jars will be fully submerged. Boil for 5-10 minutes or so to sterilize. Pull jars out and allow to dry on a towel.

Sterilize as many pint or quart jars as you will need. I usually sterilize more then I think I will need just to be safe.

In a small sauce pan, sterilize lids in boiling water. I keep the lids in the water until I am ready to use.

Keep water boiling because you will need the boiling water later to seal the jars.

Step 10: Fill Jars With Salsa

Once the Jars are sterilized. Fill the jars with your warm salsa allowing for 1/2 of air at the top of the jars.

Once jars are filled, clean any salsa slop which may be on tops of glass rims. You need to have clean rims because the rubber on the underside of the lids needs to total contact with the glass in order for a safe seal. Place lids on clean jars rims and screw rings on to tightly secure lids. You don't want your lids to move around during the canning process.

Step 11: Seal Jars

For acidic foods like any tomato products, fruit jams or chutneys or pickles which have a vinegar brine, canning in boiling water is a safe practice. For anything without enough acid content like soups, chicken or beef stock or vegetables like beans or beats, you can't can them safely unless you have a Pressure cooker. Do a bit of research if you want to can a recipe you are not sure about just to make sure. Canning is fun and easy, but be safe!

Keep water boiling from the sterilizing step, and place jars down into the rolling boiling water. If you have a boiling canning rack for your pot, you can load as many jars that fit on the rack and then lower them all on the rack into the water at the same time. As I said, I don't have a rack. When using a dish towel to keep the jars from touching the bottom of the pot, the towel won't be sitting on the bottom of the pot, but will be rolling all over in the boiling water. I lower the jars one at a time into the pot and make sure to push the towel down with the jar so it doesn't have contact with the hot sides of the metal pot. You want the water to be about 2 inches above the top of the jars. When you put the jars into the water, the rolling boil will stop for a while as the water has absorbed some of the coolness from the jars.

Watch the water, and when it begins to be a rolling boil again, start timing for the sealing process. For salsa, I leave the jars in for 5 minutes.**

After 5 minutes, take the jars out and allow to sit on the counter. As the jars cool, a vacuum will form in the jars and suck the lid down. As the jars sit, you will hear an occasion ping. That ping indicates the seal has been successfully made. Its one of the most rewarding sounds in the kitchen!

You may notice after a couple of hours that some jars haven't sealed; the lid is not sunken down but still able to be pushed up and down. One reason your jars may not have sealed is because they needed more time in the boiling water. You can just reprocess them by placing them back in boiling water. Try leaving them in for between 5-10 minutes.** They should seal up. If you have tried reprocessing a couple of times and the seals are not being made, there is always a chance you have a faulty jar or lid.***

**Processing times are given for low elevation areas. For elevations of 3000-5000 ft, add 5-10 minutes to boiling time. For elevations above 5000 ft add at least 15 minutes to your process time.

**Never use jars which have cracks or chips in the upper rim, and never use lids and rings which are dented or bent in such a way as to not allow full contact with seal to jar. If the lid does not have full contact with the jar, the lid may not fully seal, or worse, the jar may appear sealed but any crack in jar or nick in seal lid may allow a small amount of air through over time, which will create an environment for bacteria. If you ever pull a jar out of your pantry in which the lid is not sucked down but has popped back up in the center on its own, discard contents of jar and DO NOT eat.

Step 12: Salsa Is Done

Mark your jars with the name and date you made your salsa on the sealed top so you won't forget about it. Place the jars in your pantry. It will stay good for a year or so.

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