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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Roasted Tomato Salsa

Occasionally, I (along with thousands of other home cooks) volunteer with America's Test Kitchen to give my impressions of how soon-to-be-published recipes work for a non-professional. About a year ago, I tested this salsa recipe and thought it the most flavorful canned salsa I had ever tasted. I've canned it several times since and America's Test Kitchen has now published their canning book.


Roasted Tomato Salsa

Adapted from Foolproof Preserving: A Guide to Small Batch Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Condiments & More by America's Test Kitchen
Yields four 1-cup jars

Note: I checked with my County Extension Agency about using less chile if the salsa is too hot, like it is for me (to my shame). You may want to reserve some of the chiles until time to cook the salsa since it is easier to add than to remove. However, don't add more chiles than the recipe calls for. I have also reduced the salt (I find it still plenty salty but use salt free chips). I was told neither change would affect the safety of the recipe.

2 1/2 pds tomatoes, cored and halved
5 red jalapeno or Fresno chiles, stemmed and halved lengthwise, seeds removed
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 onion, sliced into 1/2-in thick rounds
1/3 c bottled lime juice (do not use fresh)
2  teas salt (the original recipe calls for 2 1/2 teas salt)
2 teas sugar
2 teas chopped fresh cilantro
1 teas ground cumin

Prepare the jars for canning by washing and heating in the canning pot. Allow them to remain in the pot until ready to use. Wash the lids and bands.

Place the onion slices and tomatoes, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet. (You may want to cover the sheet with aluminum foil to facilitate cleaning. I don't because it seems wasteful.) Place chiles (also cut side down) and garlic on another.

Place the sheet with the tomatoes and onions under the broiler 4 inches from the heat. Place the chiles and garlic on a rack below the tomatoes. Turn on the broiler (or preheat if that works better in your oven) and cook until vegetables are blistered and charred and have softened somewhat. Remove the tomatoes and onions from the oven when they are charred to your liking. Continue to cook the chiles and garlic until they are softened and beginning to char. I find it difficult to get everything to char "just right" at the same time, so I check frequently and remove vegetables one by one from the baking sheets if necessary. At this point the oven may be turned off.

Place the onions into a food processor and process until they are about 1/4-inch in size. Remove about half the onions and reserve. To the onions in the food processor, add all the garlic, half the tomatoes and all the chiles (or fewer if you wish) and run until all is well pureed. Pour into a large pot on the stove top. Place remaining tomatoes and reserved onions and pulse until all is chopped about 1/4-inch, only a few pulses. Add these to the pot.

To the tomato mixture, stir in the lime juice, salt, sugar, cilantro, and cumin. Taste it and if you want more heat add some of the reserved chiles. Cook over medium-high heat until the salsa has reduced and thickened slightly. It should measure slightly more than 4 cups.

When salsa is ready and jars are hot, remove from water and ladle the salsa into the jars leaving 1/2-inch head space. Bounce a skewer up and down in each jar to remove bubbles. Clean the rims with a dampened paper towel and top with the lids. Screw the bands on and tighten with your fingertips. Return the water in the canner to a boil. Then place the jars in the water making sure you use a rack so the bottles do not touch the bottom of the pot. Also ensure that there is an inch of water over the tops of the jars. Cover the pot and bring back to a boil and keep water boiling. Timing is according to altitude:  15 minutes for up to 1,000 feet; 20 minutes for 1,001 to 3,000 feet; 25 minutes for 3,001 to 6,000 feet; 30 minutes for above 6,000. After the time has passed, remove the lid, turn off the heat, and let jars sit in the pot for 5 more minutes. Remove jars from pot and place on a towel and allow to cool for 24 hours. Remove bands and check seal. Sealed jars can be stored up to 1 year.

I have doubled this and canned 4 pints. I looked up recipes on National Center for Home Food Preservation and it recommended the same processing time for half pints and pints. I also checked with the Extension agent and it is fine to use full pints. But I figured I'd add another 5 minutes in the water bath just in case.

If you choose not to preserve, the salsa can be refrigerated for up to a month according to ATK.

Betsy likes less than one poblano chile for a double batch.

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