I made canned tomato salsa yesterday.
I was very nervous about it, because I've only ever canned once before, and that was just straight tomatoes in a jar.
I decided to preserve the tomatoes as salsa this year because you can buy canned tomatoes on sale for under a buck, but a jar of good salsa can cost upwards of $6. Besides which, there are many times throughout the year that I suddenly crave salsa but don't have any on hand, whereas it is a very rare moment that I think, "GOD! This PMS is killing me. IF ONLY I HAD SOME CANNED TOMATOES RIGHT NOW!!!"
I have learned that canning a recipe involves all the careful prep-work of raw-food canning, but also you have to prepare the recipe (well, duh), and you have to follow that recipe without variation because the ratio of acids in the food has to be just so. Or else someone could, you know, get botulism and die.
It's a little intimidating for a beginner.
Because of the whole "exact recipe" thing (which is very unlike my usual approach to cooking, and the reason I don't bake often, or well) I wasn't able to make my favorite "tomato-peach salsa". (And apparently I have to specify "tomato-peach", because there are a lot of recipes out there for "peach salsa" that don't actually involve tomatoes. Which is odd to me. But anyway.) I had to borrow a recipe from a book.
I also bought peppers in the wrong proportions (I got several pounds of jalapenos and one pound of frying peppers, instead of the other way around - now I have a surplus of jalapenos!), so I couldn't even use the recipe that I had picked out.
I ended up with a very pepper-rich, spicy salsa. I'm intrigued, because it involves making a paste from re-hydrated cayenne peppers (hence the "spicy") but I have no idea if I'm going to like it. I'm going to have to crack open one of the cans and do a taste-test to determine if it's worth making another batch.
And speaking of "worth it" - since I had to buy all the extra ingredients to go with it (my own pepper crop failed miserably), and since I only got five jars for three hours worth of labor, I do have to question if it is actually all that cost-effective. Three hours of my time (insert your own rate) minus, what, five bucks for ingredients, minus the cost of jars, minus the materials and labor involved in raising the plants? Hmmm.
MAYBE with a bigger tomato crop (lost a lot to end-rot) and a batch of my own peppers...
But anyway. I made canned tomato salsa yesterday.