Since I couldn’t find my tried and true Salsa recipe, I decided to try the Fiesta Salsa Mix by Bernardin, based on the fact that the reviews were good, and everyone really seemed to like it. Plus, I had to use up the last of the massive amount of tomatoes I bought last weekend anyway. Here is a step by step on how I made Fiesta Salsa:
First, get your canner filled with water, put the clean empty jars in, and start heating to a boil. Your jars need to stay hot until you are ready to fill them. Put the new sealing lids in another small pot of hot (not boiling) water until you are read to use them. Get your screw top lids ready and have them nearby.
For this recipe, you dont have to peel and seed the tomatoes, which cuts down on about half the effort compared to many other salsa recipes. I used plum tomatoes, since they are less watery and hold up better for salsa.
Wash and chop the tomatoes finely – you will need 18 cups, so put on a Golden Girls episide and start chopping. It took me about 35 minutes to chop all of them. Cut and dump into a large measuring cup as you go – this makes it much easier and less messy.
Dump all the tomatoes into a large pot. Add 3/4 cup of vinegar, and full package of Bernardin Salsa Mix. Stir and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. (I dislike that the mix has a high salt content. There are many other recipes that have a lot less salt.)
Here is what it looks like with everything mixed in. While this is heating, clean up your work area and get it ready to fill the jars. Once the mixture has boiled for 5 minutes, turn off the heat, and remove the jars from the water. Be careful not to spill the boiling water. It is best to use a proper jar lifter for this task, as they are safest and designed for this purpose.
Fill the jars using a funnel to 1/2 inch from the top. Adjust head space with a spatula or wooden spoon if necessary. Take a paper towel, and clean the rims of the jars. Take the lids out of the water, dry them, and place them on the clean jar tops. Screw the band in place (careful, the jar is boiling hot!), and tighten to fingertip tight. Dont overtighten them.
Use your jar lifter to put the jars in the hot water (dont put them all on one side or they will tilt..try to space them evenly in the pot). Make sure they are covered by at least an inch of water. Put the lid on you canner, and bring the water to full rolling boil before starting to count processing time. At altitudes up to 1000 ft , process (boil) filled jars 500 ml jars for 35 minutes. Atfer the time has passed, turn off heat, let them stand for 5 minutes.
Put them on your counter (try not to tilt them when removing them from the water) in a space where they can stay undisturbed for 24 hours. Dry the lids after they come out of the water. After the 24 hours is up, check the lids to make sure they have indended inwards. Any jars that did not seal should be stored in the fridge and used immediately, or re-processed within a day.
VERDICT: After it was all done, I was disappointed with the way it turned out. It wasnt awful, but the dried herb taste was overpowering. I can still use this salsa in recipes, but it wasnt something I would want to use for tortilla chips. The mix did save me a lot of time, but the end result was very ‘processed tasting’. I am sure there are superior recipes out there with less salt, fresh vegetables (not dried green peppers) that would be a lot better. I definitely wouldn’t make it again.