What to do with over 12 pounds of cherry tomatoes from my tiny garden? My late November end-of-season pick includes green, red, yellow and orange cherry tomatoes, and a few last minute heirlooms of random descent. I decided not to make sauce because of the high skin to juice ratio.
The result? Salsa Maria - my own variation inspired by the garden and crisper gods. Here is the basic recipe:
Into the blender:
- 8-9 lbs. red, yellow, green, orange and heirloom tomatoes
- 1 bulb garlic, cloves separated and peeled
- 1 fat handful garlic chives, chopped into 1" segments
- 1/2 cup to 1 cup packed nasturtium leaves and flowers
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
Add to the salsa:
- 3 ears fresh corn niblets
- 1 whole red or white onion, diced
- 3-4 anaheim peppers, seeded and diced
- 1-3 jalapenos, seeded and diced (depends on your preference for heat)
- 1 bunch of cilantro, stems removed and chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh grated ginger
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp. dried lemon peel (available from Penzeys.com)
- to taste, Trinidad lemon-garlic salt (available from Penzeys.com)
- to taste, salt and coarsely ground peppercorn
- to taste, Tabasco sauce and / or Louisiana Crystal sauce
After picking, I rinsed the tomatoes under running water while destemming them. Then they go into the sink to soak in cold water to which a tablespoon of Clorox beach has been added. Although my garden is organic, I want to be sure I've removed all the organic debris, like leaves, sticks, bugs, bug poop, bird poop, spiderwebs and compost bacteria.
Next I set aside some lovelies for fresh eating and whole canning, and then I begin shoveling all the blender ingredients into my tiny 2-cup food processor. It was easier and faster than I thought, and allowed me to adjust my salsa as I went along. I started out thinking it would be more 'salsa verde' but green cherry tomatoes can be pretty tannic, so I decided to leave out the last pound or so. They will become fried green tomato bites.
Before I knew it I had two gallons of salsa. Yikes! The jars were already washed, water heating in the canning pot, and lids sterilized in boiling water. Canning is super easy. For a primer, look here. I use a little poly basket that just holds three jars at a time - very easy and light. If I had discovered it earlier this summer, I could have been making small batches every week, instead of this marathon session!
I like my salsas citrusy and light, with mild to medium heat. Since I was also harvesting nasturtiums, basil and chives from the garden for pesto, and I happened to have some ginger root and dried lemon peel, it all went in. I loved the result, and ate about 2 cups with chips and hummus for dinner. Yum.
Here are some jars from the first batch, cooling on a towel. ¡Buen apetito!