There was an Apple Festival in town this weekend. It's a big deal in our small town. The longest parade I've ever sat through (I swear, our daughter got more candy in the parade than on Halloween!), a huge farmers market, activities for the kids, and a petting zoo. Not to mention entertainment. Anyway, one of the farm stands was selling huge boxes of tomatoes for $5 each or two for $8. So, we bought two. If we'd had more room in our stroller (and had brought more cash with us), we'd have bought more. It ended up being around 30 lbs (yes, you read that right) of tomatoes for $8.
So, my awesome husband made me my very favorite dish for dinner: Chicken Tikka Masala. THEN, we made 4.5 quarts of diced tomatoes (plain) and about 9 pints of home made tomato and cilantro salsa. It took a lot longer than expected. It's 3 am...and we're still water bath canning our tomatoes.
We got the recipe for the salsa here. It is very important to note that you cannot just pick a tomato-based recipe and can it in a hot-water bath. You could give your family botulism, which is deadly. Tomatoes are almost acidic enough on their own to can without adding acid, but when you add things like onions and peppers, it becomes more alkaline. This means it is unsafe to can in only hot water. What you really need is a pressure canner. However, there are certain recipes (such as the one we used) that have been tested for safety. You can't change the ingredients a whole lot because you'll mess up the pH. We did tweak ours a little bit. We completely omitted the green chilis. But, since the recipe stated it was safe to reduce the amount to taste, and because we didn't add extra onion, jalapeno or garlic, it is still safe to can without a pressure canner.
Here's the salsa with everything added before cooking
Here's the recipe as we made it:
10 cups of tomatoes, diced
5 cups of onion, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 cups 5% vinegar
dried cumin (to taste)
dried oregano (to taste)
fresh cilantro (to taste)
salt (to taste)
We cooked it all over medium heat for twenty minutes, then poured it into cleaned and sterilized jars.
We boiled in water bath for 15 minutes and DONE!
We also made cans of diced tomatoes. Those were easy. We just diced a bunch of tomatoes, put four tablespoons of vinegar in the bottom of each quart jar, and added some salt. Then, we added the tomatoes, closed to jars, and boiled them for EIGHTY FIVE minutes (yes, that's right...and we had to do two batches!!). They better be good after all that!