Thursday, September 15, 2011

Canning Salsa: Easy and Yummy!

So for those of you who are my friend on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. You likely saw my posts about getting ready to can salsa. I have never canned anything on my own before. I have also never made salsa before. So it was a good night for two new things.

I have wanted to venture into canning for some time. I already freeze a lot of things during the spring and summer months for the rest of the year, but I really wanted to can some things this year as well. I borrowed my friend Lyssa's canning book, took some notes, and then thought I would give it a try. I really wanted to can this year to have some things to share with people during the holidays as well. A lot of times there are people I would just like to send a small gift to say we're thinking about you and hope all is well. What better gift than a yummy can of jam or salsa?

I love, love chips and salsa. Most people I know do! I'm a little picky about my salsa. I will actually, for the most part eat any kind, but I really, really love restaurant style salsa. There is just something about it that makes me want to eat chips and salsa from restaurant every night!

Issues with canning salsa: canning is a way to preserve food. Salsa is a little tough when it comes to making sure that you have everything sealed and canned correctly to avoid bacteria growth because of the variety of acid levels. So, make sure you look at a canning guide to help you better understand the canning process. Or you could just eat it all as you make it. Then you wouldn't have to worry!

My 1st Salsa Canning Experince
First, I got all of the materials together from the recipe. I used a restaurant salsa recipe from The Pioneer Woman.  Check out her site for lots of neat stuff and some really, really great recipes.
You can see I used already canned tomatoes instead of fresh. You can use fresh tomatoes if you have plenty, but we didn't.

I was surprise at how inexpensive salsa was to make. Salsa in the store isn't that expensive, but we could go through an entire jar in one sitting in our house. So, I was pleased to know how little it cost for me to actually make it now (and fast).

I don't have an official food processor, but I have a Ninja which basically does the same thing. I have one that is for about 3 cups and one for 6 cups. The 6 cup container is shown. The recipe says this make "a lot" of salsa. "A lot" is in the eye of the beholder. I suppose it was a lot if you were preparing it for one meal, but for canning it really wasn't that much. But I did mix all of my ingredients first in a big bowl before putting it in the ninja and did two batches and then mixed them, because I didn't want the ninja to overflow or explode.

I just love how pretty all the ingredients look. Using lime or lemon juice is really important in the recipe. It calls for half a lime but I used the entire lime for canning purposes. Most store salsas contain vinegar for preservation purposes. Lime or lemon juice can also be used. This helps with the acid levels so that bacteria doesn't grow in the can. You can read up on all of that here. Trust me, you want to make sure you get that part right!
Part of the recipe calls for onions. I know a lot of people don't like onions, but they add a really great flavor to the salsa. So, I definitely recommend getting at least a few in there.
Then I stirred the ingredients in the bowl and then emptied half into the processor or in my case the ninja. I pulsed it about 10-15 times. I found that after my first taste test, my batch really needed more salt.

Taste testing is crucial. Make sure you have something you like. If not, there are a few things you can do to tweak it. I taste tested a lot :)

Then, it was on to canning. I put some salsa away for use for dinner that night. I cleaned as I cooked and making all this salsa literally took me less than 10 minutes. Who knew?!

I don't have a lot of the proper canning tools, but I used what I have and so can you!
I cleaned and sterilized all of my cans and lids. Instead of a big boiler, I used my biggest pot and lid. I only made three cans. So, it wasn't that big of an issue.

You'll also want to make sure you have something to get your cans out of the "water bath". They'll be really hot. I used these cooking tongs. They actually make canning tongs though.
I filled each can almost to the top, carefully avoiding a spill on the rim. If you do, just wipe it clean. Then, I placed the lids on and fastened the top tightly. After that, I submerged them in almost boiling water and brought the water to a boil for 25-30 minutes. Afterwards, I removed them with the tongs and placed them out to cool and dry.
They are actually on a cooling tray so that air can flow all around them. I read that tip somewhere. Make sure that if you are using the lids that click down on top that it is actually clicked in. If not, your can likely isn't sealed correctly. You might want to just go ahead and eat that one or at least store it in the refrigerator. I also read that you could try to reprocess and re-can that one after 24 hours.

Then, I decided to decorate one of the cans for a friend of ours who volunteered to be a taste-tester. I'm not sure if I have mastered the art of canning yet, but the salsa tasted really good. It was so simple and inexpensive to make and beat store salsa a million to one!

Let me know if you try it and if you enjoy the salsa recipe. I am also looking to try some new ideas. Let me know what you tried and how it tastes!

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