So you've got bushels and baskets of big ripe tomatoes and need to DO something with them before they rot? Let's SALSA!
The number one condiment in the USA is the least understood when it comes to canning, however. Inspectors at farmers' markets are always on the lookout for salsa vendors who are using inexperienced or even deadly practices in salsa canning.
So here are a few tips to help you safely and deliciously can your salsa this canning season.
First, if you've never canned salsa before, select a recipe from a credible source, like the Ball Blue Book, or the back of Mrs. Wages Salsa Mix. You wouldn't believe how many folks I've met over the years who have tried to can their "favorite salsa recipe," only to have disastrous results!
Recipes for making "fresh" salsa are usually very different from "canned" salsa recipes. Oftentimes, fresh salsa recipes do not contain vinegar, an essential ingredient in canned salsa. Or they might not have a correct pH level of acid. Tomatoes are really a fruit, but on the pH scale, they loom dangerously close to a vegetable, and are often canned under high heat in a pressure canner, rather than a water bath canner.
Second, consider using cider vinegar as the vinegar of choice. Many recipes call for distilled white vinegar, but cider vinegar pairs quite well with delicous, in-season tomatoes. The flavor is more robust than white vinegar.
Finally, don't be afraid to add a pinch of this or that when it comes to seasonings. I'm not saying add a cup of fresh herbs (they contain a lot of water, so don't go overboard with them). But if you like pepper, and a 1/4 tsp. If you like extra hot salsa, try adding a little extra cayenne powder or dried chopped peppers. In all canning recipes, it's quite acceptable to experiment with bits of different seasonings to promote the happiness of your own palate!