Canning Homemade Fresh Organic Garden Tomato Salsa

Summer has officially come to an end … with autumn comes the task of canning and preserving the harvest. My garden crops differ from year to year, but this year, my tomatoes and broccoli were my star performers. Up until this point, I’ve managed to keep up with the ripened produce – by sharing with friends and neighbors and/or serving it to my own family. With the change of the season, it seems that all my grape tomatoes ripened at the same time. Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love grape tomatoes, but I think I may have had my fill of them for a while:) So, I started researching how to preserve them for later use. I checked out books about canning from the library (I know, kinda old school). I also looked at several websites. They all went into great detail about techniques for peeling and seeding the tomatoes. I didn’t have tons of regular sized tomatoes, I had hundreds of little, tiny grape tomatoes … there was no way I was peeling and seeding them 🙂

My favorite way to eat tomatoes is fresh from the vine.  I’ve never been a big fan of stewed tomatoes. I enjoy tomato sauce, but I like it pureed – without chunks of tomato and seeds. However, I do like different forms salsa from basic fresh Pico de Gallo to jars of salsa from the store. So I thought since the chunks of cooked tomato didn’t bother me in salsa form that would be a great way to preserve my grape tomatoes. I searched many recipes and found one I thought I would like. It involved no peeling and I like everything on the ingredient list. I found the recipe for Basic Tomato Salsa in a book called “FOOD IN JARS” by Marisa McClellan. Also, another thing I really liked was that her recipes are for small batches. So, since this was my first time canning (anything), I thought it was a good idea to make a few jars instead of a dozen. She also has a website and writes a food blog at http://foodinjars.com … check it out 🙂

Ok, so here’s what I did:

First I cleaned & sterilized the jars and my utensils …

sterilized utensils and jars

I sterilized the jars and utensils

Chopping, Chopping, Chopping – tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, bell peppers, garlic, cilantro …

Combined and cooked it all together with the other ingredients …

chopped tomatoes and other ingredients

All the chopped ingredients mixed together.

Ladled it into the sterilized jars, wiped off the rims and put the lids on.

Then came the canning process of boiling the jars …

Jars boiling away during the canning process

Jars boiling during the canning process

 

Then the 24 hour cooling process begins. It was cool to hear the seals ping … it means you did it right. 

Can’t wait to taste it 🙂

 

 

For many of my other garden crops like bell peppers, carrots and broccoli, I usually chop them up, then blanch them in boiling water for a couple minutes. Submerging them in an ice bath stops the cooking process. I then lay them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze them. After they are frozen, I put them in zip lock freezer bags. By freezing them on the flat cookie sheet first, the don’t all stick together into a big clump 🙂

How do you preserve your garden produce? Have you canned before? Tell us about your experiences. I think I’m going to try refrigerator pickles next … I have lots of cucumbers out there 🙂

 

 

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