DIY Kitchen: salsa two ways
I am consoling myself about the end of August with the fact that tomato season is just beginning. Which, I know. Shouldn’t people console themselves with exotic vacations? New shoes? A little home decorating? Dark chocolate medical patches? I don’t know. I once accidentally wore one shoe from two different pairs to a wedding and didn’t realize it until I came home. Dan filed that tidbit away for the comic strip we’re creating about our lives, called “Out Of It.”
I have nothing helpful to say about home decorating or shoes, but I know two really excellent salsa recipes which are cheering me up immensely. One is for regular tomato salsa, but it’s extra special because you know how every time you can salsa, the tomatoes become their own chemistry experiment of osmosis, all of the juice contained in the tomatoes moving outside of the fruit into the jar in a watery exodus, and you have to drain the water from your salsa after you pop the lid? Well. I got it all figured out, which makes up for how I wear sneakers with skirts. Best salsa ever. Water bath canner safe and thick.
Also, lacto-fermented salsa. And, sure, you need some fresh whey to make it, which sounds all crazy and back-to-the-land farmwife, but stay with me here. Do you eat yogurt? If you strain plain yogurt through a cheesecloth, the liquid that falls out is whey. Lickety split. And if you live anywhere near the 81301 zip code, for heavens sake, I’ll just give you some. Reasons to lacto-ferment: (1) billions of beneficial microorganisms colonizing your gut. (2) no need to turn on your stove. (3) lasts in fridge for four months.
Best Salsa Ever
Makes about five pints
16 cups chopped tomatoes (I like romas because they’re pretty meaty to begin with – you’ll lose about 3-4 cups to juice)
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup minced spicy peppers
1/2 – 1 cup packed chopped cilantro
juice of 2-3 limes
2 tbsp sugar (optional)
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp salt
3/4 cup vinegar
I know. Worst background for photo ever, but you know, real life.
Chop tomatoes and place in colander perched over bowl or pot. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp salt and let sit for one hour, stirring occasionally while the juice drips out (you can press liquid out with a wooden spoon). You may get as much as 1 cup of juice for every 4 cups tomatoes, which you can set aside for soups, beans, stock. This step is what makes the salsa thick and not watery.
Simmer tomatoes and all the rest of the ingredients in a pot without lid so more water evaporates, stirring often, for 1-2 hours. When salsa is fairly thick blend half of it up, which incorporates more liquid into the matrix, and then pack into canning jars. Leave 1/2 inch headspace. Water bath can pint jars for 30 minutes, (add 15 mins if processing between 6,000 – 8,000 feet). Freezes well too (if you’re freezing reduce vinegar by half).
makes 1/2 gallon
(As I’ve said before, when fermenting, you don’t have to be all finicky about things like recipes. It’s more about understanding a concept, and riffing off it like some inspired musician. And when you get the concept, it blows a door wide open, so that you can stroll through your garden like a talent scout, plucking and uprooting produce to star in the next fizzy ensemble.)
2 1/2 pounds tomatoes or approx 25 roma tomatoes (or 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, 1 pound peaches)
1 small onion
4 large garlic cloves
1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves
juice of 1-2 limes
2-3 TBSP salt
1/2 – 3/4 cups whey
Chop everything and pulse in food processor until coarsely chopped. Pack into 1/2 gallon glass jar. Pour whey in and stir, making sure salsa is submerged or at least coated with whey. Leave 2-3 inches head space. Close lid tightly and leave at room temperature for 3-5 days or until bubbly. “Burp” jar once/daily by opening lid, letting gasses out, re-tightening. Separation is OK, just stir. Transfer to fridge where it will keep for four months.
In the food processor:
I used peaches this time.
Wheyed and waiting: