Friday, August 27, 2010

Let's Salsa!

The best thing about late August is the abundance of tomatoes from my garden.  The worst thing about late August (aside from the heat) is the abundance of tomatoes from my garden.

Let me explain.

Every spring I plant my tomatoes and dream of meaty, full flavored tomatoes that taste like sunshine and summer.  The first tomato is harvested, rinsed, sliced and savored with the optional exclamation about how you can't get anything that even tastes close from the store.

Come late August, tomato production often is far greater than tomato consumption.  Even after giving them away to the neighbors, friends and family.

This year I found myself fighting off a tidal wave of yellow pear tomatoes.  It turns out I had exactly the right amount to make the Tomato and Green Chile Salsa found on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.  To be honest, I was a little concerned about making sure my recipe was acidic enough so I decided to go to the best source available.

I substituted three Hungarian Hot Wax peppers for the long green chiles called for in the recipe (I used my Melrose sweet peppers for the rest of the green chili requirement), but other than that stayed true to the recipe.

At first I thought I was going to be clever and call this Salsa Amarillo-Verde since it was yellow and green, but after cooking, it's pretty much a Salsa Verde.

The longest part of the entire process was the cooking.  I kept an eye on it and stirred regularly.  Be really careful when putting your face over the pot to stir.  Any inhalation of the chili steam will cause throat irritation.

Ask me how I know this.

Salsa Cooking

The salsa at the beginning of the cooking time.

I filled and canned 3 pints of salsa (the recipe yield), with a smidge left over that I put in a smaller jar and popped in the fridge.  When it had cooled down I tried it with chips.  The taste is not the easiest to describe but it was a great combination of sweet and spicy with quite a kick.  In a word, it was delicious.

While the salsa is great with chips, I think it would also work well in my chicken enchilada recipe which calls for green enchilada sauce.  I'm not sure why, but it is harder than it should be to find green enchilada sauce in the store, even the market with an extensive ethnic food selection.  My kids might not appreciate the heat, and next time I might leave out the Hungarian Hot Wax peppers entirely and only use sweet peppers, but there's something about the chili heat that makes it addictive.

Salsa Verde

I think the green color is interesting as well.

Poking around in the garden today it looks as though my carrots will be ready in the next week or so.  I also still have a TON of peppers (hot and otherwise) in the freezer frozen whole. (Quick defrost tip:  plunk them into a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds then let them cool a minute on the cutting board before chopping).

Next up in my canning queue?

Jardinera - a spicy, pickled mix of carrots, hot peppers, celery and other vegetables.

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