spoontasteSalsa snobs. That’s what we are. From the moment we started making our own fresh salsa and then freezing it, we became salsa snobs. No longer could we get buy on bottled salsa from the store. Even my home-canned salsa was no match. It’s a life sentence, I think. Each year we plant more and more tomatoes hoping to coax an exorbitant amount of fruit from each plant just to satiate our salsa cravings. Onions and  a variety of peppers find there way into the garden as well. We’ve even grown our own cilantro, though not this year. In our house, salsa makes everything better.

The recipe (I use that term loosely) I share with you today is for fresh salsa or freezer salsa only. DO NOT attempt to can it. You must use a current safety tested recipe when home-bottling salsa. Check the USU Extension website for recipes. I think there is a link to Washington State Extension services for about a zillion salsa recipes that have been safety tested.

Along about 1984 tomato hybrid seeds began producing tomatoes with less acid. What that means is vinegar or lemon juice have to be added to tomatoes to raise their acidity level to make it safe to can them in a boiling water bath. Peppers are an extremely low acid food. When you add them to tomatoes to make salsa, you further lower the acidity level of the mixture thus changing processing requirements.

This is why your Grandmother’s (or Mother’s) salsa, chile and spaghetti sauce bottling recipes are now deemed unsafe. Relying on the fact that her salsa or sauce never hurt anyone doesn’t mean that it won’t now considering the lower acid tomatoes available for our use. If you must use your Grandmother’s recipe, freeze it instead of bottling it. That way it won’t kill you.

Okay lecture over. Let’s make some salsa. Go pick two boxes of tomatoes from your garden. You don’t have that many? Well you can use less if you must. Let’s start with ingredients and worry about amounts later. Relax. You can do this. You will adjust the amounts according to your taste anyway. Besides, if you’re really good, I’ll even try and find the recipe Nate and I once typed up for friends and family who insisted on a little more direction than a mere list of ingredients.

blanchAfter washing the tomatoes, dip them in boiling water for 30-60 seconds. You can skip this step if you’re making fresh salsa and not freezing it. It’s an absolute must if you’re freezing it because the skins roll up and peel off somewhere in the freezing and thawing process. Trust me.

icebathThen place the tomatoes in an ice bath until cool enough to handle. I sterilize my kitchen sink and then fill it with ice water since I’ve got a bushel of tomatoes to blanch.

coreNext insert the tip of a knife around the core and

coredremove it. Now slip the skin off.

pigbucketPut it in the pig bucket. Our pigs love canning season. I love having pigs during canning season–and zucchini season.

choptomatoesChop the tomatoes.

drainSet them in a colander to drain.

chunkpeppersWash and chunk the green peppers. Use some chile peppers if you have them. We didn’t plant any this year.

grateI like to use the shred attachment because it’s so much faster for the quantity of peppers I do. I used to use the chopper you saw with the tomatoes and before that a knife and a cutting board. The grater leaves the the peppers in longer pieces than you may like, but the convenience is worth it to me.

grategreenpeppersStore the grated peppers in a bowl in the fridge with 33 other bowls of chopped tomatoes.


Now on to the jalepeno peppers. Seed a jalepeno by cutting off the top, then slicing it in half lengthwise.  Slide your thumb down the center and scrape out the seeds. Honestly, I have never done this because we like hot salsa, but for you I did. And then I did about ten this way without gloves. Talk about burn. Use a gloves!


Shred them in the food processor as well. I had a red one in my garden so I threw it into the mix.

onionsPull a goodly number of onions from your garden. This is about a third of what I actually pulled.

onionchunksPeel and chunk them.

onionbowlSend them through the grater, too. Since I was photographing the process I probably should have grated the onion first so there wouldn’t be green and red flecks in my onion picture. Ah hindsight. Now put everything in the fridge and wait until your husband can help you with the next part. Okay, it may not be a requirement in your house, but it is in mine. Nate has the ability to taste something and know what needs to be added. So I wait for him. Unless it’s last year when I gave up and did it myself and it’s been fine. But I prefer to have him do the tasting. And the mixing. And the last bit of chopping. Then I can take pictures.

addtomatoesPour the 33 bowls of chopped tomatoes into the boiling water canner. Yes, the boiling water canner. We don’t mess around with small batches here. That garden’s in full production this time of year.

addjalepenosThrow in the jalepenos.

addgpeppersPour in the green peppers.

stir1Add the onions and stir. Yes, that’s the grill spatula. It meets both requirements:  long and sturdy.

addcilantroWatch your husband chop the cilantro and add it to the pot. Last year we didn’t add cilantro and missed it. Other years we’ve dried our homegrown cilantro and saved it to add to the salsa as we thawed it–one jar at a time. Dried cilantro loses a lot of flavor so that wasn’t the best idea. This year we’re back to adding fresh before freezing. Cilantro doesn’t thaw in the most appetizing manner so it’s up to you if you add it before or after freezing. It’s too much for my brain to remember after.

garlicWatch your husband mince lots of garlic and add to the mix.

stirStir some more.

limejuiceAdd some lime juice. Lots of lime juice. Bottles of the stuff. I think we used 4 or 5 bottles for this amount of salsa.
Originally we used lemon juice, but now we prefer lime.

saltAdd some salt.

lemonpepperAnd some lemon pepper and stir some more.

chipsNow comes the fun part. Grab some of these and…

tastestart tasting.

morelimeIt needed more lime. When it suits your taste,

marinatepour it into 57 bowls and put it in your fridge to marinate for a couple of days. Take it out every day and taste it. Add whatever you think it needs. freezeWhen you’re satisfied, pour it into containers suitable for freezing. This time of year I use whatever I can find. I make sure and leave nearly an inch of headspace in the jars and plastic boxes. Make sure you leave a small bowl in the fridge for fresh salsa. It keeps for a couple of weeks. Every once in a while I like to add a chopped avocado to the fresh salsa just before serving.

I can’t find the small batch Fresh Salsa recipe we typed up once. I’ll have to call my sister. I’ll post it when I get it. Sorry!

Snob Salsa Ingredient List

Tomatoes, chopped
Green Peppers, chopped (can use some chile peppers, too)
Jalepeno Peppers, chopped
Onions, chopped
Garlic, minced
Cilantro, chopped
Lime Juice
Lemon Pepper

9 Response Comments

  • Jenni  September 24, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    Yay! I was hoping you’d write about being a salsa snob. We make a fresh recipe like this, too, with the matching vague proportions. Can I join your snob club? I’ve never thought about lemon pepper, though, very interesting.

    That you love having pigs during canning season . . . “and zucchini season” . . . made me snort-giggle.

  • Jenni  September 24, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    P.S. I hadn’t scrolled down your blog for a while, but this post helped me see your enture menu. Oh my goodness — we had pork and rice tonight, too. I swear I’m not copying you! (in everything)

  • Kate  September 25, 2009 at 7:11 am

    We have an open invitation for our snobbery. Isn’t fresh salsa the best. Do you have any ingredients on your list that aren’t listed here?

    Pork and rice–too funny! It’s that parallel universe thing like you said before.

  • Jenni  September 25, 2009 at 10:27 am

    We’ve sometimes stirred in a little olive oil, but it’s just as good without.

  • Shandrae  September 25, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Next year you might try adding hot hungarian peppers. We love the taste they add to our salsa. Or I can give you a bag of the ones we froze and you can try adding it to some of your thawed salsa. We have twenty something bags of hungarians thanks to a neighbor!

    Did you get the bitter taste out of that one batch of salsa or did you give up?

  • Kate  September 25, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    The bitter taste is gone.

  • Karen Gowen  September 26, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    That is exactly my recipe…except I don’t use green peppers and I use way more jalapenos since my family likes it HOT! (I would use green peppers if I had them in my garden) And I use fresh limes instead of bottled lime sauce..guess I’m a bigger snob than you are lol. Can you really freeze it? Without changing the flavor and texture?

  • Shandrae  September 26, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    Had a thought about the cilantro….You might try pureeing it with some tomatoes in the blender, then mix it in. If you do that it might thaw in a more paletable manner.

  • Kate  September 27, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    @Karen: Fresh lime juice–shh..don’t tell my husband. I have a feeling he’d be right there with you. How many limes would I have to juice to equal 5 bottles! I don’t even want to think about that.
    Freezing doesn’t really change the texture that much except for the cilantro. My sister’s puree idea might be the way to go for that. I’ll have to try that next year. The blender can quickly fix any texture problems. The taste is fabulous.