Monday, September 19, 2011
I started with 16 lbs. of tomatoes (yeah, that's a lot) and I grew every one of them in my garden. They were a mixture of Best Boy and Brandywine. The Best Boy tomatoes are my favorite for sandwiches and just eating by themselves but they had A LOT of water in them. The Brandywine seemed to be better salsa making tomatoes.
I used this website, which had very detailed, step-by-step instructions. I read them through several times and decided, I can do this!
So I chopped. I chopped for a very long time- tomatoes, onions (I bawled my eyes out), peppers, and garlic. I'm a pretty big wimp when it comes to spiciness so I worried that this recipe would be too hot for me. I cut the amount of onions in half and reduced the peppers from 6 to 2.
Quick tangent about the peppers: my Grandma is the one who planted all the peppers in my garden. I don't eat them. She knew she had habañero plants and she called the others"chipotle peppers." She got them free from a garden center and said they were very mild. So one day, I got brave and decided to try a mild chipotle pepper. If I am growing them, I should at least taste them. Right? Yowzers- it was NOT mild! I immediately spit my bite into the sink and drank a glass of milk. Still on fire. I moved on to a piece of bread. Still burning. I drank a glassful of cold water. No relief. For a good half hour, my mouth and lips burned. When I told Grandma, she laughed and said she must have been wrong. So that is the main reason I only used two peppers.
Still following the directions, I simmered all the ingredients, tasting from time to time. The salsa wasn't spicy at all so I added another pepper. Still not too hot, I added 3 shakes of the chili powder bottle. That gave it a nice flavor and a bit of heat. I still wanted to keep it mild so I stopped there. When my jars finished sanitising in the dishwasher, I pulled them out and got ready to start canning. It was then that I realized, I don't know what the heck I'm doing! I know absolutely nothing about canning. So I decided I'd better look it up. The same site had detailed directions about the canning process. That whole deal was just as intense as actually preparing the salsa! This is when I began wondering if I was in over my head.
I followed the directions closely and filled my jars. I boiled them for the proper amount of time and set them on a cooling rack to seal. I made 7 1/2 pints. The next morning, I tested each jar and they all seemed to seal properly. I opened one right away and the salsa still tasted delicious. So now I get to enjoy tasty, fresh salsa all year long!
This has been a year of trying new things so I'm quite proud of myself! If you want to taste my homemade salsa, swing on by and sit a spell!
I will leave you with one tip. After you've been dicing hot peppers, DO NOT touch your eye later on in the day...even if you've washed them more than once. Just take my word for it.