Michael Tierney, Big Ugly


Salsa is a staple in our household, and we easily go through a large jar every week; we even eat it on macaroni and cheese and put a salsa layer in our chili pot pie. I have made salsa, but only the fresh variety that only lasts a few days and is in season only while your tomatoes last. So, I have been interested in learning to can my own salsa.

Dana from WVU Extension came over to the Big Ugly Community Center yesterday to do a workshop on canning and preserving best practices that was attended by 14 gardeners.

We made a simple salsa from roma tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, and white vinegar that smells heavenly as it simmers and tastes as good as it smells. 20 pounds of tomatoes, 12 pounds of onions, and 8 pounds of diced jalapenos gave us 24 quarts of salsa that probably won’t make it to the weekend as people were already making plans for sour cream, cream cheese, chili, eggs.

In addition to improving my canning skills and knowledge (turns out that I shouldn’t have been turning my jars upside down after the hot water bath as they may not seal properly), I also gained insight on why white vinegar was used rather than my go-to apple cider vinegar (white vinegar has a higher acidity than apple cider vinegar) and about switching out lemon juice or even concentrated lime juice in place of the vinegar in some recipes as long as I watch the acidity. So now, I’m anxious for the weekend to come as I have a bumper crop of tomatoes and hot peppers just begging to be turned into salsa, and I plan to experiment with switching out the white vinegar for lime juice and adding fresh minced garlic and some of the fresh herbs I have growing (cilantro, basil).

Learning how to use Food Savers

Participants also received instruction about using sealing machines to preserve produce in the freezer to assist them with using the sealers handed out at the end of the program. For people like me who prefer freezing some things to canning, this item will be an invaluable tool in helping me preserve good quality food that retains a nice texture, taste and smell.

And in case you’re still wondering about whether or not it’s worth going to the bother of making your own salsa, here are some good reasons:

  • tastes so much better than store bought
  • quality control- you control the quality of what goes in, the amount of salt if you’re on a low sodium diet
  • cost: using your fresh tomatoes, onions, herbs, hot peppers, your only expenses are new lids and rings, and white vinegar. Much, much cheaper than the $3.29/jar I paid the last time I purchased salsa