Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Get salsa-fied

I'm not 100 percent sold on this "one thundershower every day" weather we keep having. On one hand, I haven't had to water the garden constantly the way I did last year, so my chores are lessened and our produce is practically free. On the other hand, though, the tomatoes are rotting left and right, and the bugs are thick. Ugh, soggy.

I'm still getting a decent number of tomatoes despite it all. Here's what I've been doing with some of them. As you can see, it's really quick and easy (aside from, perhaps, the optional canning part, but even that is easy if you have the equipment and you're accustomed to it).

Makes about 6 pints.

about 15 jalapeƱo peppers
5 lbs. tomatoes
1 lb. onions, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 c. white vinegar
3 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

If you will be canning the salsa, start heating the water in your boiling-water canner now, because large volumes of water take forever to come to the boil. Put the pint jars you'll be using in the water, and they'll be sterilized by the time you're ready for them.

Put the jalapeƱos under the broiler for a few minutes on each side, until blistered and lightly charred. Remove and place in a paper bag until cool.
Meanwhile, score an "x" on the bottom of each tomato. Bring a pot of water to a boil and drop the tomatoes in, a few at a time, until the skin starts to peel away at the "x". Fish them out, let them cool, and peel the skins off with your fingers. Core them and chop them coarsely.
With your fingers, rub the skins off the peppers. (Warning: Don't touch your eyes or put in your contact lenses after doing this!) Remove the stems, then mince them, seeds and all.
Put the peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer 10 minutes. If you're canning the salsa, you're ready to do so now. If not, you may want to simmer the salsa a little longer to soften the onions, and then you can just cool it and put it in the fridge.

If you're canning:
Pour boiling water over the lids, then drain them.
Ladle the salsa into sterilized pint jars. Wipe the rims with a clean cloth or paper towel, apply lids, and screw the rings on. Process in a boiling-water canner for 15 minutes.