Tomatoes are amazing, aren’t they? Red, pink, orange, yellow… black, purple, green, striped, or volunteer, I love ‘em all. And despite their precarious perch on the cusp of safe acidity levels for water-bath canning, there are a million lovely ways to preserve them: whole or crushed, basic pureé or fresh-herb sauce, fire-roasted or fiery wing sauce. And of course: salsa. I’ve preserved a few salsas in my time; it’s one of those recipes you have to be careful with, because there are typically a lot of low-acid ingredients (onions, peppers, herbs) and tomatoes are already on the cusp of acidity (pH ~ 4.6) for safe water-bath canning. Therefore it is important to use a tried-and-true recipe, or if tweaking, understand how your substitutions affect both the acidity and the density/viscosity of your final product. That said, there are plenty of good & safe tomato salsa recipes out there: this is one of them.
This recipe is straight-up from the Ball Complete book; I kept the ingredients essentially identical, but changed the method to make it more convenient (for me) and to make it a smoother, restaraunt-style cooked salsa, rather than a chunky tomato salsa. Last year I made the companion salsa to this one, a roasted tomato, tomatillo & chipotle salsa, which I think I like just a wee bit better than this one. That fresh, green tang of the tomatillos adds a nice balance to the chipotle and Cascabel spice in the salsa; the present version tastes mostly of smoky chipotle with a healthy kick from the Cascabel peppers, although you do get a nice roasted tomato flavor that is obscured in the tomatillo version. Basically, I think they are both great salsas to have in your arsenal – and, in your pantry.
I was so excited to get this post up last night that I forgot to thank the lovely Miss Julia, of What Julia Ate, for her August pick of tomatoes! And, of course, Tigress, without whom we would all be having much less fun cannin’ and jammin’. For lots more tomato preserving ideas, check out the August Can Jam round up over at Tigress in a Jam.
Adapted from Roasted Tomato-Chipotle Salsa in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, J. Kingry & L. Devine, eds.
- food mill or chinois
- 12 dried chipotle peppers, stems removed
- 12 dried Cascabel peppers, stems removed
- 2 cups boiling water
- 3 lbs tomatoes (I used several heirloom varieties; plum or paste tomatoes will give greatest yield), halved
- 2 large green peppers, halved & seeded
- 1/2 lb onions (about 2 small), halved, skin left on
- 1 head garlic, papery outer skin removed and broken into cloves, but unpeeled
- 1 cup cider vinegar (at least 5% acidity)
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp raw sugar
- 1 tsp sea salt
- In a large, dry skillet, toast chile peppers over high heat, turning as needed, until fragrant and softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a small, heatsafe bowl; pour 2 cups boiling water over the chiles. Weigh down peppers with a small plate or bowl; allow to soak while you prepare other ingredients.
- Preheat broiler and place a rack on the 2nd slot (one below the highest level) in your oven.
- Arrange halved tomatoes, green peppers, onions and garlic cloves on a rimmed baking sheet and roast under the broiler (in batches if necessary) until skins are blackened and vegetables have released liquid, about 15 minutes. Pass roasted vegetables through the medium disk of a food mill and transfer the pulp to a medium stockpot or Dutch oven.
- Prepare canner, jars and lids.
- Transfer soaked chile peppers, along with soaking liquid, to the bowl of a food processor, and process until smooth (wrap a kitchen towel around the rim of the processor if yours, like mine, tends to leak). Add chile pureé to the stockpot.
- Add vinegar, sugar, maple syrup and salt to the stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 30 – 40 minutes. Taste and adjust sugar, salt or spice, remembering that the flavor will mellow on storage. Ladle hot salsa into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes (half-pint jars; 20 minutes for pint jars).
Yields about 6 cups.
- The only changes I made to the ingredient list were to cut the sugar in half (from 2 tsp to 1 tsp) and to add maple syrup (the salsa seemed to need a bit of sweetness at the end). The orignal method did not use a food mill, but roasted the vegetables, peeled the charred skins off after a rest in a paper bag, then chopped the vegetables.
- I included all of the seeds from the Cascabel peppers; (chipotle seeds are difficult to exclude), which made for a salsa with quite a kick. I’m learning that these things mellow quite a bit on storage, so I’m happy with the level of heat; but if you prefer a milder salsa, empty the Cascabel seeds out before soaking the peppers; you can always add seeds back in at the end.
- To make the tomatillo version, eliminate the green peppers and substitute 2 lbs of tomatillos and 2 lbs of tomatoes for the 3 lbs of tomatoes in this recipe. Everything else is the same.
Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year. Refrigerated, use within 1 month.