Salsa. Fresh Salsa. Salsa Ranchera. Salsa Verde. Peach Habanero Salsa. Canned Fire-Roasted Salsa. So you can eat it . . . All. Year. Long.
Does anyone else think of Seinfeld when they hear the word salsa? And I’m with George, why isn’t it always at the table?
I worried that leaving for Colorado during one of the busiest times in the garden would put me so far behind, but it had its silver lining. It forced me to start canning much earlier than usual. Before we left, I made salsa, salsa, and more salsa. See, people really do just like saying it. I do, anyhow.
The recipe I’m sharing today is for Canned Fire-Roasted Salsa. However, you don’t have to go through the step of canning if you don’t want to. But if you do, you can have it at the table all year long. It’s a perfect way to use up end-of-season tomatoes and peppers. I picked the last tomatoes on Sunday and removed all the plants from their bed—bittersweet, as I love tomatoes almost as much as I love fall.
This Canned Fire-Roasted Salsa recipe is adapted from a recipe for Salsa Ranchera from The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving. What I didn’t change? The proportions. It’s always important to maintain proportions in tested recipes to ensure safety. What I did change? I used half-pint jars instead of pint jars, as that size is more practical for us. It is safe to decrease jar size, but you should only increase jar size if there is a tested processing time. Instead of roasting the tomatoes and peppers in the oven, I grilled them for a more smokey flavor, and because I like to live on the wild side. I also added a small amount of sugar, which is safe to do.
OK, let’s break down the ingredients, as I think that’s what really makes a recipe shine.
Now, when I make fresh salsa (not canned), I use every variety of tomato that’s ripe in the garden. But when it comes to canning, peeling, or high heat, I prefer to stick to paste tomatoes. They give you more bang for your buck! They have far less seeds and far more flesh. This year, I grew two heirloom paste tomatoes ‘Opalka’ and ‘Amish Paste’.
‘Opalka’ is my hands down, no question, absolute favorite paste tomato. It’s dense and meaty with so few seeds, it’s hard not to love. It always gets off to a slow start, smaller than all of the other tomatoes. But then all of a sudden, it catches up and produces longer than all of the others. People often ask me if it’s a pepper, because it’s long and shaped like a pepper, but alas! It is, indeed, a tomato. It has the best taste and texture of any paste tomato I’ve come across, though that doesn’t keep me from trying.
I tried ‘Amish Paste’ this year, as many believe this is the ultimate paste tomato. Doesn’t hurt that it seed originated from an Amish community in my home state of Wisconsin . . . whoop! It was certainly a worthy tomato plant. It was a hefty producer with balanced flavor and decent texture, but I still prefer the Polish Opalka.
While I lack in variety for tomatoes in this recipe, I make up for with the peppers! You can safely swap pepper varieties in canning recipes as long as the quantities (per weight) remain the same. This, of course, does not help my addiction to growing numerous pepper varieties. Some are hot and citrusry, like the Chilean ‘Aji Cristal’ and Peruvian ‘Lemon Drop’, while others are deeply rich and sweet, like the “Tesuque’ chile. We like it hot, so seeds and all went into the pot.
According to the USDA, you can safely substitute red, yellow, and white onions. Because I doubled the recipe (and made multiple batches), I used both ‘Sierra Blanca’ and Redwing’ onions.
If you’ve been here before, you know I love me some garlic. If you can, get some from a local producer (bonus points for a hardneck variety).
Cilantro and Lime
I’m beyond the moon that this recipe calls for FRESH lime juice and cilantro. In fact, quite a few recipes in Ball’s new book call for fresh lime juice. There is a great article here if you’re wondering about this change.
Alright, that’s it! Make it, grab a bag of chips and a margarita, and plop down on the couch in front of your favorite telenovela! ¿Por qué? Because you deserve it, mi amor!