Canning – a relaxing escape that gives me peace, enjoyment, and a feeling of accomplishment. Beyond the precious jars that result in a few hours of work, it’s my creative outlet. Mince, mince. Chop, chop. Roast. Simmer. Fill, and seal. It might seem like quite a few tasks, but mustering up the courage to try will make you feel like queen of the kitchen. And honestly, it seems a lot harder than it really is. There’s no better time than now to embark on your first experience. Think of your favorite summer produce, find a canning recipe that appeals to you, and preserve the harvest one jar at a time like I did with this Fiery Roasted Salsa. We’ve been blessed with a great tomato harvest this year in Minnesota. Enough rain, warm days to help them ripen on the vine, and no bug issues to speak of. The vendors at the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market are hauling them in by the bushel, waiting a person like me, who’s eyes are obviously bigger than their stomachs as they carry away 15 pounds of the bright red beauties.
The first time I made homemade salsa about 3 years ago, I wasn’t wowed. I used a recipe from the Ball Canning Book and although the flavor was okay, it didn’t have the punchy, zestiness I craved. Additionally, the texture just wasn’t my favorite. The perfect salsa to me: restaurant style that’s smooth but not runny, addictively spicy, and a background roasted, toasted flavor. I reached out to some of my Fortify friends and luckily the preservation queen herself, One Tomato Two Tomato, had just the recipe that matched my requirements.
Tomatoes, chiles, and peppers are broiled until their skin is black which brings out their inherent sweetness and a dose of smokiness. To put my own spin on her Salsa de Chile recipe, I adapted the dry spices used and threw in a twist – espresso powder. (When adapting certified and tested canned tomato recipes, it’s very important to only adjust spices/herbs for safety because of their finicky ph/acid levels. Read more about that here.)
The idea sparked from thoughts of mole sauce and really great chili, which all use a bit of chocolate to deepen their flavor, but for safety reasons I didn’t want to add chocolate. What gives an additional layer of flavor to chocolate? Espresso powder. I couldn’t resist. Tomatoes, chiles, and peppers were broiled until their skin is black which brings out their inherent sweetness and a dose of smokiness. In went the espresso powder with the cumin, chili powder, and black pepper. The result – well, let’s just say chips and salsa has been my dinner for the last two nights and breakfast quesadillas have been my jam.
Fiery Roasted Salsa
Adapted from Salsa de Chile por Mis Amigos
Make 6-7 pints
5 lbs tomatoes (½ heirloom/regular, ½ romas)
2 lbs bell peppers, plus 6-8 hot chiles like jalapenos, cayenne, haberneros in the mix (depending on how hot you like it)
1 lb white onions, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
2 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder (optional, but really adds another layer of flavor)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 teaspoons kosher salt
½ cup chopped cilantro
Turn the broiler of the oven on. Wash & dry tomatoes, peppers, and chilies. Spread tomatoes and peppers on a sheet pan and roast them under the broiler until their skin is blistered. Flip and roast on the other side. Remove from oven and put bell peppers in a paper bag and seal (this will make them easy to peel). Blend the tomatoes, their juice, garlic, ½ of the diced onions, and hot peppers (stems removed) in the blender until fairly smooth. (Leaving the skins on gives the salsa that great smoky flavor). Remove the peppers from the bag, peel, and dice. Add all the ingredients to a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the salsa is simmering, prepare the hot water bath and heat the pint jars and lids. Ladle hot salsa into clean, hot pint jars, leaving 1/2” headspace. Wipe rims and add the lids. Process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes at a full rolling boil.