August 14, 2015 - 3:20pm -- Anonymous

Red, yellow or green… tomatoes come in many different sizes, shapes and colors, but when it comes to processing them, they are all treated the same.  When you are making a particular recipe, look for the qualities that best fit your need.  I’ve had several calls about making salsa, so here are a few tips to help you make the best recipe yet.

  • Choose a firm tomato for thicker salsa.
  • Use fresh, high quality tomatoes, not ones that are overripe or spoiled.  Poor quality to begin with may yield poor quality salsa that is more likely to spoil.
  • Read your recipe first, then follow it if the tomatoes need to be peeled or not.
  • If you are adding peppers, be sure to use rubber gloves and be aware that not doing so may cause skin irritation.  Bell peppers can be substituted for some or all of the long green chilies.  Canned chilies can be used in place of fresh if you desire.  (For detailed directions see the fact sheet reference listed below).
  • Vinegar or lemon juice should be in the recipe to raise the acidity level for canning safety.  Make sure to use vinegar of at least 5% acidity and bottled lemon juice.  An equal amount of lemon juice can be safely substituted for vinegar, but do not substitute vinegar for lemon juice as this could result in a potentially unsafe salsa.  Lemon juice is more acidic than vinegar and it has less effect on the product’s flavor.
  • The amount of spices and herbs can be altered in these recipes, so that they are made to you and your family’s flavor preferences, and doing so will no compromise the safety of the product.
  • DO NOT alter the proportions of vegetables to acid and tomatoes because it might make the salsa unsafe.
  • Process the recipe in a boiling water bath according to directions.

Canning is a fun way to involve the whole family and maybe even start a new tradition.  Last week, August 9-15, was Local Foods Week. Making salsa might be a great way to celebrate Local Foods start your home food preservation journey! Visit http://localfoods.osu.edu/events/ohio-local-foods-week for more information on local foods and http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/HYG_5339_15.pdf or http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_salsa/choice_salsa.html for salsa recipes.

Don’t forget, I’ll be doing gauge style canner inspections, tomorrow at Mt. Hope Hardware from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. and on Thursday at Lehman’s in Kidron, also from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.  I have several food preservation classes coming up:

  • Safe, Simple, Easy to Learn Home Food Preservation:  Canning Fruits and Vegetables on August 24 from 7:00-8:30 p.m. at the Living Water Church, 200 N. Kurzen Rd., Dalton.  (Please call the church and ask for Regina Miller for more information.)
  • Pickles and Other Vegetables for Fermentation” on Tuesday, September 1 at Heartland Point in Orrville (call there for more details).
  • Canning Tomatoes and Tomato Products at Rittman Orchard on Thursday September 3 from 6:00 -7:30 p.m.  We’ll also be talking about preserving some of our fall favorites like apple butter and pumpkin.  Call the Orchard for more information or to sign up as there is limited seating.

Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.