Today was the day, the tomatoes were taken off the table and dropped into the pot, and tonight we have salsa. Paulina had another day off from the pool because of the cool weather and the rain, so we opted to get some canning done. We have all been a bit down and out lately because of the missing wallet, but wonder of wonders it appeared today, and as we all figured, I was the one who had made it disappear. I should have been a magician. Apparently in the frenzy of cleaning for the arrival of Vic and Nate and the grandchildren, I grabbed a few items off the table and put them into a box. Today when Paulina began putting away her little electric diffuser, she lifted the box that holds it and wondered why it felt so heavy. Lo and behold as she opened it, there was her wallet and the shorts that have been missing all month. Leave it to me to stash things where no one can find them. I once lost pajamas that I bought for the daughters to give them at Christmas and did not find them until Easter. We had given up on locating them even thinking that we never bought them, but when we found the receipt, we knew it was time to do more searching.
Anyway, when all the tomatoes were blanched and mashed, and the onions (2 cups) were diced and the peppers were chopped (2 cups bell and 1/2 jalapeño), we had canned (20 minutes of boiling in the canner kettle) 5 quarts of salsa and 2 quarts of tomato juice. I have learned that in order to get thicker salsa, you drain away some of the juice at the beginning of the process and use that to make juice. Each time I do up salsa or spaghetti sauce, I usually get about 2 to 3 quarts of juice, almost as a by-product. And a wonderful by-product it is. We also added 3 dried and crushed chili peppers, 3 tablespoons of canning salt, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon of cumin to the salsa. After it simmered for about 20 minutes I took out a cup of liquid and whisked in 1 teaspoon of corn starch as a thickening agent. I did this twice. It calls for 3 tablespoons to be done, but because we had pulled out some of the liquid, we really didn’t need to thicken it that much. I also don’t like to do it much because it tends to bland out the flavor a bit. This is not a perfect recipe, and as I told Paulina, much of what you do needs to suit your taste and the flavor of the tomatoes. I really advise putting in about half of each of the flavoring ingredients and then doing a taste test before adding the full amount.
This particular batch turned out pretty well, and Paulina will have a nice batch of salsa to take along with her when she heads back to college next week, happily with her wallet in her purse!!