All the necessary ingredients for salsa were available in sufficient quantity – sweet peppers, hot peppers, tomatoes, parsley, oregano, and onion. Salsa is not complicated, just fresh ingredients to your personal taste. It is a bit of work and the hot peppers have to be handled with care. I grill the sweet peppers and remove the skins then blend the pepper meat into the tomatoes. The salsa has a fresh snap with a smoky flavor.
This time I wanted to make a salsa with ingredient proportions that give it the necessary acidity for canning. Only I wasn’t going to can this salsa, just make it fresh and see how I like it. I found a recipe for canned salsa http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/canned_tomato_salsa/ and modified it, keeping the ratio of tomato/acid juice/ nonacid foods the same.
The tomatoes are Supersonics from the garden. They are moderately acidic, medium sized and not overly juicy so they worked well. I grilled ripe sweet peppers (Carmen) over charcoal, put them in a sealed container to steam, and removed the skin and seeds. The red pepper meat blends right in with the tomato base. I also like onions in the salsa but not the pungency, so I chop them fine and saute the onions at low heat in a little olive oil until they are translucent. If I had mild onions they would go straight into the salsa.
The hot peppers are Hot Poppa and one Holy Mole. They are comparable to Jalapenos in heat level. If I had Serranos I probably would have tossed one or two into the mix as I like salsa hot.
Here’s what I used:
2.5 pounds of tomatoes, deskinned.
8 ounces ripe sweet pepper, grilled, deskinned and deseeded
5/ 8 cup of diced hot pepper, seeds removed
3/4 cup chopped onion, lightly sauteed
1/ 3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
Sprig of Greek oregano, leaves finely chopped
1/ 4 cup of lemon juice (For canning you need 1/ 2 cup)
Salt to taste
It’s about a 4 to 1 ratio of tomatoes to peppers by weight. The recipe called for vinegar to give the salsa the necessary acidity but I prefer lemon juice. In the you-learn-something-new every day department I learned that lemon juice is more acidic than vinegar, therefore you can substitute lemon juice for vinegar but not vice versa. I should point out that after working with 100% acetic acid in the lab when I was a bench chemist I now find vinegar not so appealing. 5% is one thing but the straight stuff is a different ballgame. So I opt for lemon juice.
Anyway it all went into a blender and was pulsed until the consistency was good, then put in a bowl so the flavors could meld. Taste? Good on a tortilla chip and the heat is just right to my taste. More lemon juice to make it safe for canning will not hurt the flavor. I just had part of a lemon on hand so a fourth of a cup is all it got. I like parsley over cilantro but either gives it a fresh taste. It would be better if I had grilled the mole pepper and removed it’s skin as the skin is kind of tough. Really you can substitute freely as long as you don’t mess with the ratios of tomatoes/lemon juice/ nonacid foods.
If the tomatoes and peppers produce enough to double this batch I’ll can some salsa. That’s a big if.