If there’s one thing I wished I had made more of last year, it was our garden-fresh salsa. God, I love salsa. Is there anything else that gives such amazing flavor from such a few, simple ingredients?

I already had 22 pounds of heirloom tomatoes piling up on my kitchen counters along with a tidy pile of cascabels and jalapeños, so the choice was made. I merged a few different recipes from the Ball Book, adding spices, maintaining acidity ratios and including salt (which to me is essential!)

22 pints (including 3 quarts) of salsa and 2 quarts of spicy tomato juice. I’ll use the quarts on taco nights, where half will go into the mexican rice and half into the refried beans – it seemed less wasteful than using two separate pints. I’ll need to make another batch to fulfill all our needs, but this is a good start.

A great start, actually – it’s more liquid than last year’s, but way more flavorful! More picante too, with just the right amount of heat. We’re designating it a “gringo medium.” -grin-

We made huevos rancheros with it this morning. Josh and I both think it’s the best salsa I’ve ever made!

Pico de gallo (1/3 of my recipe, so it should yield 7-8 pints)

  • 7 pounds (13 cups diced) tomatoes
  • 1-2 lg onions, finely chopped
  • 7 jalapeño peppers (or equivalent heat*) finely diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, pressed through a press
  • 3/4 cups white vinegar
  • 2/3 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

Prep water bath canner and jars. Bring all salsa ingredients together in a large pot and heat before pouring into jars with a slotted spoon (don’t drain too much, just a little). Process pints 15 minutes, quarts 20 minutes.

* According to Cook’s Illustrated, jalapeños with more “stretch marks” on them are older and thus hotter than the younger, smooth-skinned ones, so keep that in mind when selecting your peppers. I used a fair number of jalapeños that had already turned red, and I’d assume those are also hotter – though I didn’t lick one. -grin-

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