Ingredients for Salsa Recipes
(This information applies to the salsa recipes tested by Washington State University.)
The type of tomato you use often affects the quality of salsas. Paste tomatoes, such as Roma, have firmer flesh
and produce thicker salsas than large slicing tomatoes. Although both types make good salsas, slicing tomatoes
usually yield a thinner, more watery salsa than paste tomatoes. Salsa can be thickened by adding tomato paste.
Canning is not a good way to use overripe or spoiling tomatoes. Use only high quality tomatoes for canning
salsa or any other tomato product. Do not use tomatoes from dead or frost-killed vines. Poor quality or
overripe tomatoes will yield a very poor salsa and may spoil.
Where recipes call for peeled or skinned tomatoes, remove the skin by dipping tomatoes into boiling water for 30-60
seconds or until skins split. Dip in cold water, then slip off skins and remove cores and seeds.
You may substitute green tomatoes or tomatillos for tomatoes in any of the salsa recipes developed by Washington
Chile peppers range from mild to fiery in taste. Very hot peppers are usually small (1 to 3 inches long);
mild peppers are usually bigger (4 to 10 inches long). Anaheim, Ancho, College, Colorado and Hungarian
Yellow Wax are mild pepper varieties. Choose a mild pepper when the recipe calls for long green chiles.
Small, very hot peppers provide a distinct taste to salsas. Jalapeño is the most popular hot pepper.
Other varieties include Serrano, Cayenne, Habanero and Tabasco. Use rubber gloves when you cut or dice
these peppers because they cause extreme irritation to the skin. Do not touch your face, particularly
the area around your eyes, when you are working with hot chiles.
You may substitute bell peppers for some or all of the long green chiles. Canned chiles may be used in place of fresh.
Use only high quality peppers. Do not increase the total amount of peppers in any recipe.
However, you may substitute one type of pepper for another.
The skin of long green chiles may be tough and can be removed by heating the peppers. Usually when peppers
are finely chopped, they do not need to be skinned.
Hot peppers, such as the jalapeño, do not need to be peeled, but seeds are often removed.
If you choose to peel chiles, slit each pepper along the side to allow steam to escape. Peel using one of
these two methods:
Caution: Wear plastic or rubber gloves and do not touch your face while handling or cutting hot peppers.
If you do not wear gloves, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face or eyes.
Oven or broiler method to blister skins - Place chiles in a hot oven (400°F) or broiler
for 6 to 8 minutes until skins blister.
Range-top method to blister skins - Cover hot burner (either gas or electric)
with heavy wire mesh. Place peppers on burner for several minutes until skins blister.
To peel, after blistering skins, place peppers in a pan and cover with a damp cloth.
(This will make peeling the peppers easier.) Cool several minutes; slip off skins. Discard seeds and chop.
Tomatillos are also known as Mexican husk tomatoes. They do not need to be peeled or seeded,
but the dry outer husk must be removed.
The acid ingredients used in salsa help preserve it. You must add acid to canned salsas because the
natural acidity may not be high enough. Commonly used acids in home canning are vinegar and lemon
juice. Lemon juice is more acidic than vinegar, but has less effect on flavor. Use only vinegar
that is at least 5% acid and use only commercially bottled lemon juice.
If you wish, you may safely substitute an equal amount of lemon juice for vinegar in recipes using vinegar.
Do not substitute vinegar for lemon juice.
This substitution will result in a less acid and potentially unsafe salsa.
Spices add flavoring to salsas. The amounts of spices and herbs may be altered in these recipes.
Cilantro and cumin are often used in spicy salsas. You may leave them out if you prefer a salsa
with a milder taste. For a stronger cilantro flavor, add fresh cilantro just before serving the salsa.
IMPORTANT: Follow the directions carefully for each recipe. Use the amounts of each vegetable
listed in the recipe. Add the amount of vinegar or lemon juice listed. You may change the amount of
spices, if desired. Do not can salsas that do not follow these or other research tested recipes.
(They may be frozen or stored in the refrigerator.) Do not thicken salsas with flour or
cornstarch before canning. After you open a jar to use, you may pour off some of the
liquid or thicken with cornstarch. Store in the refrigerator once opened.
Adapted with permission from Salsa Recipes for Canning, PNW0395, by Val
Hillers and Richard Dougherty, Washington State University. Pullman,
WA: Pacific Northwest Extension Publications, 2000 revision.
(National Center for Home Food Preservation, August 2004)
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