Freezer Salsa

This picture doesn't QUITE do the overgrown garden justice, but we'll try. 
You can see sweet Mr. rhymeswithsmile hard at work pulling weeds.
As previously mentioned, some of those weeds were 4 feet tall and required some quite vigorous pulling (thankfully, the rain loosened the soil).  The most fun part of the three-day adventure was searching for the purposeful plants under all those crazy wild ones - and actually finding them.
The Mr. took the weedeater and rescued about 30 tomato plants and 15 pepper plants.  We also uncovered 3 watermelons, and in the past week have seen 4 more come out. 
And just think ... we believed the garden was a goner ...

But, back to tomatoes and peppers ... I ended up buying (eek!) the produce to make my first batch of freezer salsa because I wanted to make salsa so badly I couldn't wait for our own tomatoes to ripen.  I found a nice old man with a truck on the side of the road (he was the one who provided the gigantic Tomatolator I got so excited about last posting), and for a whopping $25 ended up with all the ingredients I needed for the salsa.

So, if you find yourself either (a) buying 20 pounds of tomatoes at a time or (b) overwhelmed by your own garden produce, try this recipe for freezer salsa.  It made about 15 pints of salsa (which means, if we ration well, we get one jar of homemade salsa every 3.5 weeks until next summer!)

Diner's Freezer Salsa
from www.food.com - recipe #12275
20 pounds fresh tomatoes
2 cups fresh cilantro
2 large onions
10 garlic cloves
10 medium jalapeno peppers (if you're OK with a little kick in your salsa)
6 habanero peppers (to taste - I actually used a different kind of hot pepper and am satisfied with the results, so feel free to adjust depending on what you like and what you have access to)
2 cups chopped green peppers
2 tablespoons cumin
1/4 cup sea salt
1/4 cup white vinegar
juice of 6 large limes

Chop tomatoes in food processor - do not puree.  Leave some chunks.  (the original recipe says to peel the tomatoes first.  I don't feel that it's necessary or worthwhile to do it ... but whatevs.  Call me lazy, but I don't bother with it.  You can peel if you want before processing the tomatoes).  Pour into a large - very large - stock pot.

Chop cilantro, onion, and garlic coarsely in food processor, and add to tomatoes.

Chop peppers - jalapenos with seeds, habaneros and green peppers without seeds - and add to tomatoes.

Stir cumin, salt, vinegar, and lime juice into tomato mixture.  Combine thoroughly.

Bring to a boil.  Lower temperature and maintain at a low boil for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking on the bottom.  You want the salsa to reduce by about half as the tomato water boils off.

Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water and rinse.  I use glass pint jars and metal lids and bands, but the original recipe writer says she used 3-cup plastic freezer containers.  Just keep in mind that you want usable container sizes - so don't pour your salsa into gallon ziploc bags unless you plan on defrosting and eating a gallon of salsa at a time.

Fill jars with salsa, leaving about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch space at the top for expansion during freezing.  Let jars completely cool before putting on lids - this way you avoid condensation and ice on top of your salsa.  Keep in freezer and thaw before eating.

I get a little smile when I open up our freezer and see an entire shelf of salsa.  And, I confess that I will probably end up hiding half the jars from the Mr. because he loves this salsa so much, he'd eat a jar a day.  So, some of the jars are visible.  The rest are nicely tucked away under potato soup, blueberries, and frozen corn, to be pulled out in mid-February when I need a little boost ...

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