Marge Standley’s Salsa

This recipe might look odd to you, but you’ve likely had things like it before.

Let’s say you wanted to make a whole bunch of salsa. So you buy salsa ingredients: tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, salt, and fresh herbs (cilantro or parsley, to your taste). So far, so good!

Except, let’s say bought so many ingredients that you want to make a gallon of salsa–too much to eat all at once–and now you want to put some in a jar for later. Well, you can put the parsley aside–fresh herbs tend to get annihilated in the canning process. (That’s why you can’t buy canned parsley, after all…) So what about the rest?

Simple enough: if you have a pressure canner (which is like a pressure cooker, but made to hold jars), you can fill your jars, load them into your pressure canner, and seal them for later. But what if you don’t have pressure canner, either because spending a hundred bucks to save salsa for later seems excessive, or you don’t fancy the idea of a large metal pressure bomb filled with small glass pressure bombs on your stove, or you don’t have the cupboard space for a tool that you’d only use twice a year?

You could use the water-bath method of canning; that requires somewhat less specialized equipment. But if the pH of the salsa is above 4.6, it won’t be safe to can using a water-bath method. And unhelpfully, tomatoes have a pH range of 4.3 to 4.9. So we need this to be more acidic.

I know, let’s just pour vinegar into it until it’s nice an acid-y. Great plan, except now when you taste it, it tastes more like chunky tomato vinegar than salsa. So to tame the bite of the vinegar, let’s add some sugar, too. But now it’s a bit runny, so a little tomato paste might help.

If you’ve ever had home-canned salsa, odds are, it was made from a recipe like this. Which makes my only real question… what are the freezer bags about? Have you ever said, “Honey, bring me another bag of salsa?”

If you’re wondering why someone might go through all this trouble to make a canned salsa that’s probably not-quite-on-par with Tostitos or Pace, consider that the “natural flavoring” present in both brands can include animal-origin flavors. If you’re vegan, or just skeeved out by the idea that people-who-know-what-salsa-should-taste-like think it should taste like animals, sometimes, then you might want to go the way of Marge Standley.

From the box of D.W. from Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Marge Standley’s Salsa

12 medium to large tomatoes; peel, chip and use colander to drain
2 large onions
2 green peppers
2 red peppers
2 to 6 jalapeno peppers
3/4 cup sugar, or 1 cup
3 small cans tomato paste
2 cup vinegar
3 to 5 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. salt

Bring to boil. Simmer 1 hour. Cool and place in freezer bags.

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