If you don’t have fresh tomatoes on hand for this recipe, you can always substitute with canned, diced tomatoes. You’ll need at least 5 or 6 (29 oz) cans of diced tomatoes for this recipe. (Be sure you drain the tomatoes well before making the hot sauce!)
approx. 12 lbs fresh tomatoes
3 medium onions, chopped
5 or 6 garlic cloves, minced
1 small bunch fresh cilantro leaves (about 1 cup)
3 large lemons
peppers of your choice (I used diced green chili peppers)
sea salt and black pepper
canning jars, rings, and seals
water bath canner
1. Wash tomatoes and remove stems. Next, remove skins:
- To easily remove skins: Place tomatoes in a large pot of boiling water. Let set for 30 to 40 seconds, then spoon whole tomatoes into a waiting bowl of ice water. Skins will peel off easily!
2. Cut tomatoes in half and scoop out seeds with your finger. Give tomatoes a good squeeze to remove excess water. Place halved and seeded tomatoes into a colander so they can drain while you continue to slice remaining tomatoes. You want to drain off as much water as you can to avoid runny salsa.
- Now is a good time to get your jars and canner ready. Run jars through a quick wash in the dishwasher, or let them sit in HOT water while you finish preparing the tomatoes. Fill your canning pot half-way with water and turn heat on HIGH (add a few tsp of white vinegar, if you wish, to keep jars from getting water spots). I usually let my rings and seals boil in the canning water until I need them (remove them with a spoon or tongs).
3. Coarsely dice tomatoes. Let diced tomatoes continue to drain in a colander while you prepare the spice mixture in the next step.
4. To prepare your own spices: place onions, garlic, cilantro leaves, juice of 3 lemons, diced peppers, and salt and pepper in a food processor. Process until mixture is finely chopped.
- If you are using fresh peppers, note that they tend to get hotter and hotter the longer your salsa sits on the shelf or in the fridge. I used canned chili peppers to prevent scorching our mouths (we don’t like it too hot!). Use as many or as few peppers and seasonings as you like to suite your family’s taste.
- If you like your salsa smooth (not chunky), run part of your chopped tomatoes through the food processor along with your seasonings.
5. Thoroughly combine chopped tomatoes with seasoning mixture.
6. Ladle salsa into HOT jars. Wipe with a wet cloth and seal tightly with lids. (Always use new seals- you can reuse rings and jars as long as they are not rusty.)
7. Place jars into canning pot, making sure water covers jars by at least half-an-inch. Allow water to return to a rolling boil, then start the timer for 20 minutes. Most recipes call for just 15 minutes of processing, but I had better luck with my jars sealing properly after 20 minutes.
8. After 20 minutes: With canning tongs, carefully remove jars from canner and let sit on the counter top (on a thick towel) to cool. You should hear a “popping” sound after a few minutes as lids began to seal. Once jars have completely cooled, label and date and store in a pantry or cabinet.
This recipe yielded 16 (8 oz) jars of fresh salsa!