I’ve been dying to learn a thing or two about canning. I bought a great book of recipes – but there’s only so much of the intimidation factor that can be eliminated by a book. To really understand how this process goes, I needed some help from the fam.
Thankfully, my cousin Kristin from Krash Design was totally up for it. Before we could can, we needed to make something for canning. She had harvested a small ton of tomatoes from her backyard garden, so the plan was to make her favorite salsa to enjoy until next year’s harvest!
Her approach is one of somebody pretty comfortable in the kitchen. There are no measurements – only processes and throwing things together until they taste the way you want them to. She actually made it look crazy easy and I think – despite my own instructions for this being super vague – I can recreate this down the road!
Kristin’s HOT salsa recipe needs:
- Tons of tomatoes of varying sizes and types
- Two huge pots
- A chopper
- A smaller? chopper/food processor
We started by boiling the tomatoes in water until the skins cracked. From there, we ladled them into the clean kitchen sink filled with cold water. Kristin kept this water cold by throwing ice into it now and then too.
While she boiled tomatoes, chopped onions and chopped jalepeños – I cored tomatoes. As a first timer, I was extremely slow. Kristin finished about a thousand tasks while I was focused on this one thing. Still – it was a pretty awesome lesson.
By the time I finished coring all the tomatoes, she had all of the other veggies chopped and ready to go.
The tomatoes all went through a manual chopper/food processor to slice them up much smaller. Almost to the pureé-ish consistency you expect from salsa. After getting chopped, they were all poured back into the two large pots – this time without water.
From there, Kristin eyeballed her usual addition of jalepeños and onions. Once those seemed to be where she wanted them, she tossed in sugar, salt and garlic to fit her preference.
After that, we boiled.
Both pots sat on the oven for about hour. After dinner and a couple glasses of wine – she put a covered pot in my hands and said “take this home and can it this weekend.”
I have to admit, I panicked a whole lot looking at that pot of salsa in my fridge over the long weekend. But, yesterday, I finally got the guts up to can it.
The amazing people that previously owned the farm left us a huge collection of old canning jars in the cellar below the barn. Noting that we still have a massive snake on the premises, I made Aaron go down there first. We picked a few of the old pint jars, ran them through the dishwasher and got to canning.
Here’s an amateur tip that I don’t know if you should trust: I stopped the dishwasher before it completed the drying cycle. This meant my jars were hot and a little damp. Since the whole point of pre-heating the jars is about temperature control – I figured dishwasher hot was about the same as boiled hot and I went straight to canning. It worked just fine!
I ladled the salsa into my hot jars and put on the clean lids. Then, I dropped them all into my canning pot and cranked the heat to high.
That sucker would not boil. It was hot as hot gets but wouldn’t boil.
I finally called Kristin to figure out what I was doing wrong. She suggested removing the jars, getting the water to boil and putting them back in if they didn’t seal.
Lo and behold, within a minute of taking my jars out of the water – they all popped and sealed. It. Was. Incredible.
I’ve never felt such ridiculous success before. This is going to be an awesome new hobby!