When I set out to make homemade salsa, I envisioned one of those name-brand thick and almost brick red salsas in a jar you can buy at any grocery store. Something that while perhaps not the most inspiring, is a staple of many diets and doesn’t disappoint. What I ended up with when I made the recipe below is quite the opposite (in the best way possible).
This salsa is one that is so fresh-tasting, I’m still convinced the tomatoes and cilantro were picked just yesterday every time I open another jar, even though it has been a few weeks since I canned this recipe. It has quite the kick to it, but it manages not to overwhelm the natural sweetness of the tomatoes or the earthiness of the cilantro. It is most similar to the salsa you get at a good Mexican restaurant: slightly watery and hard to contain on a tortilla chip, but good enough that you figure ditching the chip and going for it with your spoon is a necessity.
And it is fit not only for chips and spoons, but many other dishes. I’ve enjoyed it with steak, and with Mexican-style scrambled eggs (think onions, jalapenos, avocado, and fresh tomatoes). About the only thing I haven’t done is had a heaping bowl of it straight–though I’m thinking I may just call it gazpacho and do just that for today’s lunch. And with all the cheap tomato bounty this summer, I hope you will, too!
Spicy Fresh Salsa
Adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
Makes 6 pint jars
10 dried chili peppers
1 cup (approximately) of hot water (not boiling)
12 cups Roma tomatoes (peeled, cored, and diced)
3 cups red onion
1 1/2 cups cilantro
15 cloves garlic
6 jalapeno peppers (leave the seeds in if you want more heat, otherwise remove seeds)
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
Submerge the dried peppers in just enough hot water to cover them. Let soak for about 20 minutes, or until they have rehydrated somewhat.
When the peppers are rehydrated, transfer them and half of the water to a blender or food processor. Add the onion, cilantro, garlic, and jalapenos. Puree until smooth.
Combine all ingredients in a large stainless steel saucepan. Over medium-high heat, and stir constantly, bring the mixture to a boil. Once it has reached a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the salsa thickens. This will take 10 to 15 minutes.
Place salsa in cans and store in the fridge. If you are canning this recipe, it will make 6 pints or 12 half-pints. You should leave 1/2 inch of headspace and boiling water bath process for 15 minutes, regardless of can size. Make sure not to make substitutions or changes to the proportion of ingredients if you are canning.