It was a sad day around here when we finished up the last jar of homemade salsa, a good four or five months before the next batch of garden tomatoes would be a reality. This year we are going to have to manage the supply a little closer, so some of you that received salsa with your Christmas gift may be out of luck. 🙂
With the first tomatoes and peppers finally setting on after a long winter and cool spring, it seemed like a good time to revisit the process using the photos I took last summer with the intention of turning them into a post!
Whether fresh or canned, this recipe always gets rave reviews, which is almost embarrassing because it is SO easy and has never really involved using a “recipe.” The first year we had a garden, which became overrun with tomatoes thanks to my overzealous purchases at the greenhouse, this salsa was thrown together in fresh batches using the tomatoes and peppers I didn’t feel like processing and freezing or canning. The fresh lime juice, dash of cumin, and overall just the freshness of the garden ingredients themselves are what really make this a mouth-watering summer specialty. When canning this, I do usually scald and peel the tomatoes and add some extra lime or lemon juice as recommended by your Extension Service to make sure it contains enough acids. We have also canned salsa using the Mrs. Wages salsa mix, which is another easy and tasty option for preserving an overabundance of tomatoes.
I have used several different varieties of tomatoes in this recipe, and they all turn out well as long as they are fresh, garden tomatoes. Last year I ended up with a massive amount of these smaller plum-type tomatoes, which were a real pain to can due to their size and the amount of time it took to skin and seed them. They had wonderful flavor and were very juicy which made them perfect for the fresh version of this salsa, which doesn’t require peeling. I did remove some of the seeds but it is not critical to do so. The larger Roma tomatoes are probably the most ideal, especially for the canned version, but honestly any variety will work.
Dice the tomatoes fairly small, so when you scoop the salsa onto a tortilla chip you can get a good mix of all the different yummy ingredients in one bite. Toss into a bowl that can be covered or sealed, as this gets even better with a little time in the fridge that allows the flavors to meld. As far as amounts, I have attempted to quantify the ingredients in the recipe below, but really I just wing it every time and it depends on your tastes. It is really hard to go wrong, and you can adjust the flavors to suit your preference with each batch.
Next grab some jalapeño peppers. These were also from my Eastern Montana garden, so they were not very big as I wanted salsa and was too impatient to wait. They were however very tasty, and since you are adding them fresh to this recipe, were preferred over the great big peppers you find in the grocery store. They are a little more work to prepare due to their size, but is was worth it. Cut off the stems and remove as much of the membrane and seeds as you prefer to limit the heat. If you remove them all, there really is very little burn, so I would recommend leaving in at least a few seeds to give it a little spice. Keep in mind also that the longer it sits in the fridge, the spicier it will get.
Dice the jalapeños very small and add to the tomatoes.
Next dice up some onion, again I use whatever is ready in the garden, whether white or red. Overall I am not a huge onion fan, but there is something about onions grown in my own garden. I used half a medium-sized onion for this size batch, but increase or decrease as you see fit. I also dice up any green, red, yellow or orange bell peppers that might be ready in the garden. This one looks a little rough but it tasted great in this salsa. If you have the more colorful peppers it also looks great in this mix.
Then I add one or two finely minced cloves of fresh garlic, depending on size. Don’t overdo it, since you are working with fresh garlic here.
Top this mixture off with about half a teaspoon of ground cumin, which adds some great Mexican flavor, a quarter teaspoon or so of red pepper flakes for a little extra zip, the juice of about half a fairly good-sized lime, and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Then add kosher or a coarse-ground sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.
Stir this mixture together well.
Cover and refrigerate for at least a few hours and no more than about 5-6 days. It will start to get a little watery after a few days, but just stir it up before serving and it still tastes great. I have actually canned this exact recipe with a little extra lime juice added to it and it turned out great. Fresh ingredients make all the difference!
My kitchen usually looks like a bushel of tomatoes exploded in it from August through the first freeze thanks to the promise of fresh salsa. Some of that is due to the kitchen staff, ages 10, 8 and 3 who love to help peel scalded tomatoes, but mostly it is my own notorious reputation as a messy cook. Look out, kitchen, it is almost salsa time again!
Simple Summer Garden Salsa
2 Cups fresh tomatoes, finely diced
4-5 small jalapeños, some seeds removed, finely diced
1/2 a white or red onion, finely diced
1-2 smaller bell peppers, any color, finely diced
1-2 small cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, crushed
Juice of half a large lime or one small lime
About 2 Tbsp. good olive oil
Kosher or Coarse-Ground Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Mix all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and stir well. Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours and for up to 5-6 days. Serve with tortilla chips and large margaritas. May also be preserved following safe home canning procedures which may require the addition of some extra lime or lemon juice. Makes enough for me to consume in 1-2 sittings; for normal people, serves 6-8.