Canning Makes a Comeback
Posted: Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Step aside, ketchup. Salsa has moved into the top spot as the most widely used condiment in America. Salsa translates as "sauce" from both Italian and Spanish and, like ketchup, can be served with just about anything.When fresh local tomatoes are plentiful, there is nothing better than a batch of salsa fresco or pico de gallo. But this fresh treat doesn't last long, so many people are now returning to home canning in order to enjoy the bounty of fresh local tomatoes all year long. If you have never canned foods before or are returning to something you did many years ago, you should be aware of some changes that have occurred in order to safely preserve your favorite salsa recipe. We've turned to the University of Minnesota Extension Service for several helpful tips to make your canning project a success and The Ball Blue Book for a basic recipe to get you started.
- Choose only fresh, firm vegetables for canning.
- Since many of today's varieties of tomatoes are low-acid, an acid such as bottled lemon juice (NOT FRESH) or vinegar needs to be added in order to safely can your tomatoes. If the acidic flavor of vinegar is overwhelming, add a small amount of sugar to balance the flavor or substitute bottled lemon juice. However, if the recipe calls for lemon juice, do not substitute vinegar.
- Green tomatoes or tomatillos may be substituted for ripe tomatoes.
- Do not reduce the amount of lemon juice, vinegar or tomatoes in the recipe.
- Do not add extra peppers, onion or garlic, but you can reduce the amount of any of these.
- Another variety of pepper can be substituted, or canned chilies may be used in place of fresh.
- Spices and herbs may be adjusted to personal taste and will not affect safety. For a stronger cilantro flavor, add fresh cilantro to the salsa just before serving. The high processing temperatures may reduce the flavor.
- Do not thicken salsas with cornstarch, flour or other thickeners such as tomato paste before canning. Add thickeners, if desired, after opening the canned salsa.
- Always store open jars of home-canned salsa in the refrigerator.
- If salsa is canned improperly, you put yourself at risk for botulism, a potentially fatal food poisoning. If you want to experiment and develop your own salsa recipe, it would be best to freeze it for food safety.
- Sanitize glass canning jars in the dishwasher before filling.
- Follow directions on the package for preparing your jar lids before placing on filled jars.