This salsa is smokin’ good! With a deep, rich color and an immediate flavor that’s hot but not too hot, it has a kick and a smoky aftertaste from the ancho chilis. Ancho chilis are dried poblanos and are generally pretty mild. I get mine from our local health food store where they’re stored in a jar. Whether or not they’re actually fresher than the ones packed in cellophane, at least I get to choose the size I want. Since you reconstitute the chilis submerged in hot water for about 15 minutes, you can usually tell from the water how hot they will be and adjust the rest of the recipe accordingly.
I can tomatoes and all kinds of tomato sauce and other concoctions in September when the paste tomatoes are ripe for picking at our CSA farm. In August, we have plenty of slicing tomatoes and they work best when combined with other ingredients. My obsession with tomatoes (notice my new banner!) is a family joke as we end up with rows and rows of ripening tomatoes on every indoor horizontal surface out of the sun but within sight of the kitchen. With ten pounds carted home from the CSA farm last week, bulk canning of salsa for the Tigress Can Jam did the trick.
I couldn’t locate the recipe that I used the last time I canned salsa two years ago (last year was a tomato bust because of late blight) but I had notes that pointed me to a certain recipe in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving that I had ignored last time but decided to try. I used the same proportion of red wine vinegar to tomatoes and added fewer fresh jalapenos than the Ball recipe, so I figured the acid ratio was safe. After I peeled, cored and de-seeded the tomatoes (saving that wonderful juice) I lightly salted them and let them sit in a colander over a bowl to drain for an hour before cooking, adding that liquid to the saved juice. The method removes excess liquid and lets the salsa reduce without overcooking.
Ancho Chili Tomato Salsa adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
4 medium ancho chilis (dried poblanos)
12 c diced cored and peeled tomatoes in ½-inch dice (about 9 lbs)
3 c diced red onion
7 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large jalapeno pepper, de-seeded and minced (or more to taste, depending on the heat of the dried chili)
1 ½ c finely packed cilantro leaves (lightly chopped or torn if large)
¾ c red wine vinegar
1 tbsp salt
Optional: red pepper flakes
Pour boiling water over the chilis in a bowl just to cover and weight them down so that they stay submerged. Let them sit while you prepare the other ingredients, or at least 15 minutes.
Prepare the tomatoes. Wash ripe, unblemished tomatoes to remove any dust or dirt. Set a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Set a large pot of ice water in the sink. Have ready a cutting board with a trough for capturing the juice, a colander set over a bowl (to capture the juice and not the seeds), a small bowl for the discarded cores and skins and another large bowl for the chopped tomatoes Plunge the tomatoes, two to four at a time, into the boiling water for a few seconds. Remove to the ice water. Core a slightly chilled tomato with a small paring knife and slip the skin off, discarding into a small bowl. Cut the tomato in half crosswise. Continue until you’ve filled up a good part of the board. Squeeze the halved tomatoes gently over the colander to release the seeds and excess juice. Then chop them into ½ inch pieces. When you’ve skinned, seeded and chopped up all of the tomatoes, salt them lightly and let them drain in a colander over a bowl for about an hour, reserving the liquid to add to the juice collected in the colander with the seeds.
Remove the chili from the water, remove the stems and seeds (leave the seeds for heat if you like your salsa very hot) and puree them in a food processor with half of the soaking liquid.
Combine all of the ingredients in a large stainless steel saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to keep the ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Turn down the heat and boil gently until thick, 10-15 minutes,
Ladle the salsa into hot jars prepared for canning leaving ½ inch head space. Remove air bubbles. Wipe the rims and cover with lids that have been doused in boiling water. Process in boiling water for 15 minutes (for half-pint, 12-oz and pint jars). Turn off heat, remove canner lid and let sit for 5 minutes before removing to sit undisturbed until cool.
Makes seven 12 oz jars and a little more to taste.