I love attending the Des Moines Farmers Market. There are only a few more weeks left to enjoy the food, music, and produce offered. This farmers market is one of the largest venues that I have had the opportunity to enjoy. There are close to 300 vendors that come from all over Iowa to share their products. My family meets together to eat fresh breakfast items and check out many of the booths. This past weekend provided beautiful weather for a trip downtown to find fall favorites. Our purchased items come together to create this week’s blog: Homemade Salsa.
Searching for tomatoes was easy, as there were several booths that offered variations of ripe Roma tomatoes. The Roma tomato is a thick-walled, meaty, egg-shaped tomato that is less juicy and has fewer seeds than other varieties. They have a slightly sweeter tomato flavor. Due to the meaty flesh, the Roma is an excellent choice for fresh salsa and it blends well with garlic, cilantro and other items used in the making of salsa. Roma tomatoes are high in vitamin A and C and is a rich source of lycopene.
Onions and garlic are mainstays in our salsa. In a previous blogs, we touched on information about onions and garlic. Garlic and onions have been around for more than 5000 years. China is the largest garlic producer. Onions are a root vegetable grown commercially in more than 20 states.
Tomatillos, also known as Mexican husk tomatoes, are a small fruit native to Central America. The small fruit that is used as a vegetable comes wrapped in a husk and resembles a small unripe tomato and is usually green in color. The flesh is acidic and has a hint of lemon taste. Tomatillos in the United States are grown mainly in Texas. We add tomatillos for the addition of acidity and lemon flavors.
Now for the peppers. We like using banana peppers and jalapenos. Banana peppers are a member of the chili pepper family and have a milder taste. These peppers can be green, red and orange in color. The ripest ones are sweeter, while the less ripe will be a bit tangier. Jalapenos are a chili pepper pod that is round, firm, about 4-6 inches long, and shiny green in color. With the jalapeno, it is important to Remember that they can carry a lot of heat inside. It depends on how hot you like your salsa when it comes to leaving in the seeds and membranes. The more left in, the hotter the jalapeno mixture. Color is another important measure to hotness for peppers. As the jalapeno pepper ages, it turns from green in color to red. A red jalapeno can pack a lot of heat inside.
Cilantro, also called Chinese parsley, is the leaves of a coriander plant. It is grown mainly in Texas. The flavor of cilantro is strong and pungent. Quite often used for the taste, as well as for the garnish appearance. Not everyone cares for the strong flavor, but this little plant is completely edible and used in many recipes.
Here’s the ingredients we used for some great homemade salsa
30 Roma tomatoes
4 Vidalia onions
4 banana peppers
3 diced garlic cloves
5 tbsp. cilantro
1 cup lemon juice
5 green peppers
3 tbsp. salt
4 tsp pepper
Depending on the amount you want to make, you will need to adjust the amounts of the ingredients listed above. We are making a big batch to share. Feel free to try adding some of your favorite things to make your version of homemade salsa.
- Wear gloves while preparing salsa!
- Prepare tomatoes by soaking tomatoes in boiling water for 2-3 minutes to split and loosen skins. Peel and chop all tomatoes, drain excess juices off in a strainer or colander before adding extra-large bowl.
- Once all the vegetables are in the bowl, stir in the lemon juice, garlic cloves, salt and pepper.
- Taste to see if it is as hot as you would like it. Increase heat by adding 1-2 more hot peppers, tasting after each addition. Keep in mind that as the salsa sits for a while, it will get a little bit hotter.
- Bring all ingredients to a boil in large pot & simmer for 15 minutes. Stir often to prevent sticking.
- Fill clean pint jars with salsa, leaving about 3/4 inch at the top. Wipe off tops of the jars before putting hot canning lids on. Screw lids tight then turn back about 1/4 turn.
- Process jars in a steam canner or boiling water canner (not pressure cooker or vegetable steamer) for 15 minutes. (Recipe makes 12 pint size jars.)
Here’s to chips and homemade salsa. Try it for yourself!