This hasn’t been an easy year for farmers in our area as they’ve struggled with the heat and drought. But one vegetable that thrives in hot sunny weather is the tomato, and right now they are at their peak. If you love fresh tomato-based sauces, this is the time to head to the farmers’ market to stock up!
There is not a better time to make large quantities of tomato sauces or salsas. Canning is often the preferred method to store sauces for use later, but freezing is also an option which many prefer—especially those who have large freezer space. (Our directions below can be used for freezing or canning; see the note about canning at the end.)
Salsa is popular and versatile, is easy to make, and freezes well. Use it plain with chips or as a sauce for many Mexican dishes. The biggest issue in making good freezer salsa is being sure you have boiled off most of the tomato water; otherwise your salsa when thawed will be way too runny. Don’t shorten the cooking time and be sure to let the salsa cool prior to freezing to avoid excess water from condensation.
There is nothing better than the flavor of homemade salsa in the middle of winter to bring back memories of summer. This highly rated recipe “Diner’s Freezer Salsa” by Diann Godbey from http://www.food.com/recipe/diners-freezer-salsa-12275 is a real winner for its ease and flavorful result.
Make your Salsa Day fun by inviting your friends to join in on the preparation, and reward them with containers to take home and freeze. While everyone is chopping and stirring, definitely turn on some contra music for added fun!
Ingredients (Yields 6, 3-cup containers.)
20 lbs. tomatoes * (Paste or sauce tomatoes contain less liquid, but any tomato should work.)
2 cups fresh cilantro *
2 large onions *
10 garlic cloves *
10 medium jalapeno peppers (for medium-hot salsa) *
6 habanero (very, very hot) peppers, or to taste *
2 cups chopped green bell peppers *
2 tablespoons cumin
¼ cup sea salt
¼ cup vinegar
6 large limes, juice of (or 6 tablespoons of juice)
1. Peel and chop tomatoes in a food processor briefly, or by hand, so you have a mixture of part liquid and part pieces.
2. Put the tomatoes in a 10-quart stock pot.
2. Chop cilantro, onion, garlic and add to the tomatoes.
3. Chop jalapenos and habeneros with their seeds and add to the stockpot. (For a milder salsa, removed the seeds and membranes from all or some of these hot peppers.)
4. Add cumin, salt and vinegar and stir all together.
5. Bring to a boil and lower the temperature to keep at a low boil for 2-3 hours, stirring to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pot. (Use a metal spacer if the salsa begins to stick to the bottom of the pot.)
6. Boil down to about half to get rid of all the extra tomato water.
8. Fill your containers and leave a ½-inch of head space. Let cool before capping to avoid condensation which will form ice on top of the salsa.
9. Place lids on and freeze.
Note: This recipe works very well for canning too. Follow through step 6, and then follow your canning instruction booklet. Also, add even more hot peppers if you like your salsa really hot.
Recipe adapted from Diann Godbey’s “Diner’s Freezer Salsa” at http://www.food.com/recipe/diners-freezer-salsa-12275
A version of this market recipe appears in this week’s edition of Saratoga Today. Ingredients marked with an asterisk (*) are available at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market.