Salsa: Summer in a Mason Jar

Canned and Ready for Eating

Salsa is one of my favorite things to eat during the long months of winter. It reminds me of all the good things I grew over the summer, and combines all of my favorite flavors. I love the zest of garlic, the scent of cilantro, the punch of the hot peppers.

I made my salsa as soon as I had 3kg of Roma tomatoes, even though I’m likely to get a bunch more in the coming weeks. Those will be for making tomato sauce, another favorite.

Here’s my salsa recipe (adapted from this recipe):

Garden Salsa

Blanch, peel and core 3 kg Roma tomatoes. Chop them coarsely then layer with a sprinkling of pickling salt in a colander over a pot. Let them sit overnight in a cool place, allowing much of the liquid to drain.

The next morning, start chopping. You can use a food processor if you like, but I prefer to chop by hand to get a chunkier salsa (with the exception of the peppers – those I use the food processor for).

Including the tomatoes, chop and add to a stock pot:

3 medium onions

1 large head garlic

200 g Serrano peppers

1 medium green pepper

1/2 medium red pepper

3/4 bunch cilantro

1/8 C cumin seed, ground

1/2 can (3 oz) tomato paste

Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. It’s now ready to can. When canning, add 1 tbsp lime juice to the bottom of each 250 ml jar or 2 tbsp to a 500 ml jar. This increases the acidity and makes for safer water bath canning of tomatoes. Please refer to another website such as this for canning instructions.

Makes 2 liters of salsa.

Making Salsa

Serrano Peppers – Bang for Your Buck

Serrano Peppers

I planted Serrano del Sol peppers from T & T Seeds this year and I was not disappointed. Hanging here are the peppers I had at the end of the season after using many for making sauces and things throughout the late summer. This is the output from six plants. I’m drying them after which I’ll grind them and add them to oil or just keep them as red pepper flakes.

The green ones may or may not turn slowly red as they hang in the window (some will, some won’t). I wish I’d had more time to let them sit on the plant, but zone 3A doesn’t always let me  have what I want.

Nine Weeks to Last Frost

Pepper seeds in a row

Here we go. I started my first seeds on Sunday March 13th – Serrano Peppers and Jalapeno Peppers. Here in Edmonton I’m assuming it’ll be safe to place my plants out on or about the 15th of May. 

I use Pro-Mix, a peat-based starter with MycoRise Pro. MycoRise is a symbiotic fungus which helps root development and reduces transplant stress.

It’s important to allow the starting medium to absorb water first before planting, so I placed my long narrow containers in water and gave them a good soak from the bottom up. Once the water had thoroughly drenched the soil I removed the containers and allowed them to drip off any excess.

I made a 1/4 inch (5 mm) trench the length of the container using a pencil, then placed the seeds approximately 1.5 cm apart the length of the row. I like to place the seeds on edge to reduce the risk of rot. I covered the seeds with 5 mm of light sand and carefully marked each row with a marker cut from a plastic yogurt container.

I made custom clear plastic covers from a dollar-store tablecloth and placed the seeds under my lamps. Once they begin to sprout I’ll remove the plastic covers to allow them to breathe more freely. I have them under artificial light for 14 hours per day and the room is about 21 degrees C.

Now its just a matter of waiting…10-15 days for germination depending on the soil temperature. By the time these sprout I’ll have planted my tomatoes, eggplants and some hybrid onions – but that’s for next week’s post.