Hi, folks!

I realize I’ve not been writing much here this year – event wrap-ups and such. I really overdid it last year, and not blogging has been a way for me to keep the activities coming while staying somewhat sane.

I did want to share this, though: come instructions for making very large batches of salsa in a group. And here’s a pic of the group that made 79 pints in August!
2010 Salsa Day

The salsa recipe

We’ve used this recipe two years in a row at our salsa canning work days, and it’s worked out very well. It’s from the National Center for Home Food Preservation and has been tested to be safe for water-bath canning. You can use any combination of sweet and hot peppers to yield the quantities listed, and you can add more spices (garlic, cumin, salt, etc.) but don’t alter the basic proportions of tomatoes-peppers-onions-lemon juice.

Use paste-type tomatoes (romas, Amish paste, etc.) so you don’t have to cook it forever to get it to thicken up. I’ve also found it helps to bring half a cup of cayenne pepper to the workshop so you can adjust the heat without throwing off the rest of the recipe. Our peppers have not had much heat the last two years, and the cayenne really helped keep the spice lovers happy!

Paste tomato salsa
Yield Unit 13 pints x2 batches x3 batches x4 batches x5 batches x6 batches
Tomatoes, chopped Quart 7 14 21 28 35 42
Onions, chopped Cups 5 10 15 20 25 30
Jalapenos Cups 1 2 3 4 5 6
Sweet long chilis Cups 3.2 6.4 9.6 12.8 16 19.2
Garlic Cups 0.4 0.8 1.2 1.6 2 2.4
Lemon or lime juice Cups 2 4 6 8 10 12
Salt Tbl 2 4 6 8 10 12
Cumin, ground Tbl 2 4 6 8 10 12
Oregano Tbl 2.4 4.8 7.2 9.6 12 14.4
Black pepper Tbl 1 2 3 4 5 6
Cilantro Cups 0.6 1.2 1.8 2.4 3 3.6
Finished pints 13 26 39 52 65 78

This chart should be extremely helpful to figure out how much of each dry, uncut ingredient to bring to yield the quantities of chopped materials listed above. There’s always some uncertainty when changing between weight and volume, so take the measurements below with a grain of salt and be sure you measure your chopped ingredients as you stir things together. Don’t add those extra two onions just because you have them; you have to increase the recipe in correct proportion. The numbers below should err on the side of having too much of something. Chop some stuff, measure, and then chop more as needed so you don’t end up with 3 spare quarts of tomatoes but no extra onions.

Updated 8-28-13

What to bring (one 13pt batch) By weight By volume By the piece
Tomatoes, whole Pounds 14-15 Dry quarts 9 (1 peck) Small romas 60?
Onions, whole Pounds 2.5 Dry quarts 1 heaping Medium 6-7
Jalapenos, whole Pounds 0.5 Dry pints 1 Peppers 10
Sweet chilis, whole Pounds 2 Dry quarts 2 Large Bell peppers 5-6
Garlic, bulbs Pounds 0.25 Dry pints 0.25 Bulbs 2

When putting together your list of what to bring, you may end up dividing up shares like this:

  • 5 pounds of onions
  • Another 5 pounds of onions
  • 4 pounds of jalapenos
  • 3 pounds of sweet peppers
  • Another 3 pounds of sweet peppers
  • 4 large bulbs of garlic and a quart of lemon juice
  • 4 large bunches of cilantro
  • 2 more quarts of lemon juice
  • All spices (usually easiest for the organizer to bring)

Tomato conversion chart (pounds, quarts, bushels, etc.)

Tomato conversions Bushel Gallon Peck Quart (dry) Pounds Quart (diced) Pint (diced)
One bushel 1 8 4 32 53 17-20 35-40
One peck 0.25 2 1 8-9 12 4-5 9-10
One canner load, or the recipe above (7qt) 0.25 1 8-9 13-14 14 9
One quart 1.5-2 2-2.5 1 2

Organizing who’s bringing what

Here’s what I do:

  • Ask for people to RSVP. My kitchen at the Grange can hold 10 people, max, so I set the limit at 12 because someone always has to miss at the last minute.
    • Be sure to think about how much stove space you have. At the Grange, we have 2 electric stoves. Each stove holds one canner and one pot of salsa. We also have 2 portable butane burners that each hold a 10-qt pot for cooking down salsa. Cooking the salsa down is what takes the most time – 30-45 mins for each big 8qt batch.
  • Once I know how many people are coming, I decide how much salsa we’re going to make. I usually aim for about 8 pints per person.
  • Then I divide up the ingredients. Each person brings a share of tomatoes, plus one other share of other ingredients. I use Doodle to have people sign up for their shares online, but use whatever’s convenient for you.
  • Be sure you have canners, big measuring cups, bowls, and large cooking pots, spoons, etc. You can use quart or half-gallon canning jars to measure ingredients in a pinch. I like having restaurant-style ingredient tubs with cup/quart markings on the side. You may want to use Doodle to have people sign up to bring equipment as well as ingredients.

Running the workshop

  1. Sanitize all counters and sinks (1 gal water + 4 drops bleach; use new sponges)
  2. Rinse out all bowls, tubs, colanders, etc. if they are new or have been in storage.
  3. Finalize quantities; determine if any additional ingredients are needed.
  4. Tape a copy of the recipe next to each cooking station. For example, a 10qt pot can hold one batch of the salsa listed above (makes 13 pints), so write out the recipe for one batch.
  5. Wash tomatoes.
  6. Start chopping ingredients. As ingredients are chopped, whoever dumps that ingredient into the pot marks off what they’ve just added on the recipe sheet. So, if I add 4 quarts of tomatoes, I put 4 hash marks next to the “7qt chopped tomatoes” line on the recipe. That way, everyone knows when a particular pot contains all its required ingredients.
  7. Start heating water in canners.
  8. Start cooking the salsa as soon as there are a couple quarts of tomatoes in the pot. Add the fresh herbs in the last 15 mins of cooking. Aim to get one batch of salsa cooking before all ingredients are chopped.
  9. Wash jars and place in canners or oven to warm.
  10. Warm lids in saucepan.
  11. Continue to cook salsas until they are thick.
  12. Start cleanup as soon as all ingredients are chopped. You’ll be done chopping long before the salsa is done cooking.
  13. Can salsa – water bath 15 mins per pint/20 mins per quart.
  14. Finish cleanup.
  15. Listen for the “ping”!
<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/espring/4917661977/&#8221; title=”2010 Salsa Day by espring4224, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4095/4917661977_43b25b514b.jpg&#8221; width=”500″ height=”375″ alt=”2010 Salsa Day” /></a>