Yesterday I decided to make a couple batches of salsa for canning. Never mind the fact that it was hot and humid and that I had just spent the last few hours at a baby shower. The red velvet cupcake was delicious, by the way. No, I had so many ripe tomatoes on the counter and one shelf of the refrigerator devoted to a huge bag of tomatillos so something had to be done.
The Co-Conspirator had put in a request for a tomato salsa after my last round of tomato canning. I guess it was feared I’d put up all the tomatoes plain and there wouldn’t be any left for salsa. It’s a legitimate concern since I tend to get going one direction and just keep going. Inertia works both ways with me, just as with the rest of the universe. But I digress.
I selected a recipe, Fresh Vegetable Salsa, from Ball’s “Complete Book of Home Preserving,” a more comprehensive canning bible than the classic “Blue Book Guide to Preserving.” After a couple big (for me) sessions of canning tomatoes I’ve gotten pretty good at peeling and cutting up tomatoes so the veg prep went quickly enough. I simmered the salsa per the instructions while I brought the water in the canner up to a boil. I decided while the simmering was happening that I might as well do a batch of tomatillo, too. Getting a canner full of water boiling is an undertaking it seemed sensible to take advantage of an already hot pot. Maybe some day with a little help I can do a real marathon session of different products.
For the tomatillo salsa I wanted to use the same recipe I used last year. It was good and we are just finishing up our last jar. Did I make a note of it? Of course not! My best guess is that it was the Tomatillo Green Salsa from the Wisconsin Safe Food Preservation Series, which I have the printed booklet versions of in its entirety, thankyouverymuch. I did make two changes to the recipe, something that should be done rarely and carefully with canning recipes. Since our jalapenos are so hot I I used green bell pepper instead of the additional long green chilies and I substituted lime juice for lemon juice. I looked around online and it looks like the bottled stuff is pH adjusted the same as lemon is. Unfortunately, the section of frozen lemon and lime juice that I like has gone entirely missing from our grocery store. I was in a hurry so I grabbed a bottle of ReaLime. That may have been a mistake. When I poured it in the salsa I took a whiff. It smelled more like lime candy than actual limes. I was suckered by the label. It says “100% Lime Juice.” What I missed was the “from concentrate with other added ingredients” under that. I think the lime peel oil they jack it up with may be a bit much. We’ll find out when it’s mellowed in the jar for a while and we taste it.
Anyway, the timing worked well enough. While the tomato salsa was processing in the canner I got the tomatillo version simmering. The tomato batch was out of the canner and on the counter with lids popping as I was loading the tomatillo version into the hot water. From beginning to end it took about three hours, including washing all the pots, pans and utensils while the last jars processed.
This has been a good summer for canning. So far I’ve got a batch of our favorite Bread-and-Butter pickles put up, about half the whole tomatoes I’d like to have before winter, and now a couple kinds of salsa. In addition to the additional tomatoes, I want to make the tomatillo salsa again, this time using either just lemon juice or a mix of the good lemon and lime juice if I can find it. We eat a lot of salsa so I may try a different recipe, perhaps one using some of the home-smoked chipotle peppers we’ve get lying around. Now if only the weather would moderate a little from less sauna-like conditions!