Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Salsa - A Picture Tutorial!

Today we are going to make salsa together! I've never found a "canned" salsa I like. If you have a recipe you love for canned salsa - please send it my way. I thought I'd share how I make salsa and have it fresh year round. First the recipe...then the secret!

Gather your ingredients: tomatoes, tomatillas, onions, garlic, cilantro, salt and jalapenos (missing from this picture but you'll see them soon!).  You'll need a cutting board, a large wide knife, commonly called a chef's knife (I use a Henckel 8 inch Chef's knife - a gift from my mama). This is one knife you don't want to skimp on - buy a good one!  You'll never regret it. You will also need a tomato knife or other thin sharp knife. I have had a tomato knife for about 10 years and am amazed at how well they core and slice tomatoes! I'd never want to go without one again! I also use a mini food processor to make my salsa.  I can control the texture better with this than with my large food processor.  Mine is by Black & Decker. You will also need a garlic press, measuring spoons, a bowl for mixing and some chips for tasting!

We'll start with the onions...I used one large Vidalia onion...cut the ends off and peel...

then cut into sections about this size.

Place them in the bowl of the food processor.

Pulse a few times until they are "minced".

Dump them into the bowl. They should look like this.

Next, take your tomato knife and core your tomatillas. I used four tomatillas for this batch - adjust according to your own tastes.

Then cut them into sections like this.

Place them in the food processor.

Top them with fresh cilantro from your garden.  Be sure to wash it!  I often find spittle bugs in my cilantro! I used a very large bunch of cilantro.

See the tomatillas hiding underneath?

You are going to run the food processor continually until the cilantro is finely chopped.

Add it to the bowl!
Wash, core and slice your tomatoes. The sections should be about this big. I used 6 or 7  tomatoes.

Place some in the food processor.

If you are making a very large batch, you will need to do this several times. Don't overload your food processor.  We want a "chopped" texture - not pureed!

Place them in the bowl.  Add a bit of salt.  I used 1/4 of a teaspoon here but go by taste.  We don't use a lot of salt in our house.  This was fine for a fairly large batch of salsa.

Pour the tomatoes in the bowl - notice they are "chunky"!

Now for the garlic...y'all know how to open garlic cloves easily?

Lay a garlic clove on your cutting board - lay a wide flat knife (called a chef's knife) on the clove...

Bring your fist down hard and smash the knife! Make sure your knife is flat so you don't cut yourself!

Your garlic clove pops right open!

Put the clove (or more!) in a garlic press.  We like a lot of garlic so I used about 6 large cloves.

Add it to the bowl!

Now for the jalapenos - I don't have fresh ones yet so this is a jar I canned last year.

I take the whole jar and dump it into the food processor.  

I process them until they are minced! We use a LOT of minced jalapenos.

Then I pour the whole thing back into the jar for storage in the refrigerator.  Now I'll be ready next time I make salsa, or Mexican cheese dip or homemade re-fried beans!

Take a tablespoon (or more!) and add it to the bowl.  

This amount is completely dependent on how hot you like your salsa. I used quite a few tablespoons!

Mix well and get out the chips - it's time to have a taste testing!

If you find the tomatoes were terribly acidic, you may want to add a pinch of sugar to offset that.  Usually less than 1/4 teaspoon will do the trick!

Now for the secret! All summer long, I take tomatoes from the garden, wash them and put them on a cookie sheet in the freezer.  I do the same with my tomatillas. I also put cilantro in zip locks in the freezer.  When the tomatoes and tomatillas are frozen solid, I "pour" them into a 5 gallon bucket in my chest freezer.  They will sound like billiard balls rolling around. I have found that 5 gallons is enough to get us from summer to summer.  When I want salsa in January, I take out the amount of tomatoes and tomatilas that I want and let them thaw in a 9 x 13 pan.  This helps contain the "water" that comes out of them.

When they are thawed, I slip the skins right off, use my tomato knife to cut out the core and place the rest in the food processor and proceed as usual. I purchase a couple of tomatoes from the grocery..not for taste but for texture. Your frozen tomatoes will provide all the taste! The store tomatoes will make the texture just like your summer salsa straight from the garden. I also use my cilantro from the freezer. This is a wonderful treat to take to potlucks or dinners through the winter. No one will know how you managed to pull off such a delicious, flavorful salsa with the tomatoes available in the store at that time of year!

Another advantage?  One less thing to can during the summer months!


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