I first discovered the Mrs. Wages line of canning products last year and I’ve used them with some frequency since then. In April, I became a contributor to their monthly newsletter. My little column includes some chatty articles and recipes (much like what you find here). Now, I’m pleased to be giving away a basket of their mixes, pectins and other products. If you’re interested in entering to win, click here and leave a comment. Now, on to the salsa.
Last summer, I canned peach, tomatillo, tomato and pineapple salsas (all were recipes I was working on for the book). They were delicious, but after all the peeling, chopping and general prepping, an incredible amount of work. Since I’m not writing a canning book this summer, I’m looking to make my preserving decidedly less intense (to be honest, I’m still a bit burnt out). One of the ways I’m planning to do this is by cheating, ever so slightly.
This Mrs. Wages salsa mix is one of the ways I’m making my life easier. It uses six pounds of fresh, ripe tomatoes, 1/2 cup of vinegar and the packet of salsa mix. That’s it. No major chopping sessions, long simmering times or running out to the store when I realize I forgot the cilantro. By taking a little help from Mrs. Wages, I can bang out five pints of salsa (as well as a half full jar for the fridge) in half an hour and move on to something else while it processes.
You do need to blanch and peel the tomatoes, but once the pot of blanching water comes to a boil, it takes all of six minutes to move the cored and prepped (don’t skip the little cross on the bottom of the tomato, it makes it far easier to slip those skins off) through the boiling water and into a cool bath. Once the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, you should be able to pull the skins away easily.
The instructions on the packet say to roughly chop the tomatoes, but because I was lazy (and in a bit of a hurry as I also did five pints of dilly beans that morning), I used the Vitamix to break down the peeled tomatoes (imagine a very chunky puree). Once they were all peeled, pureed and in the pot, it was just a matter adding the vinegar and spice mix.
As soon as the salsa mix went in, my kitchen filled with the smells of garlic, onion, peppers and other spices. I was impressed by how quickly it transformed my pot of plain tomatoes into a flavorful, aromatic condiment. Later that afternoon, I served the finished salsa to some friends and they complimented me on my perfectly balanced, homemade salsa. I’m sure they thought I was crazy, but I ran excitedly to the trash can and fished out the empty packet so that I could show them how easy it had been to make.
I am so happy to already have a stash of salsa on the shelf for our winter tacos, dinners of chips and breakfast burritos (it normally takes me until September to start thinking tomatoes). This isn’t to say that I won’t try my hand a fully from-scratch salsa later in the summer, but the ease with which this came together was balm for my canning-focused but over-committed brain. And it tastes so bright and fresh (though it’s not very spicy. If you like a lot of heat in your salsa, I recommend boosting it with a few red hot chili flakes or a dab of cayenne).
There you have it. If you’ve been eying one of these salsa mixes, I say go for it. Particularly if you’re swimming in ripe tomatoes and are decidedly short on time.
And don’t forget to click over to the Mrs. Wages giveaway and leave a comment (preferably featuring a story about your apron-wearing habits) to enter. And keep you eyes peeled, I’ll be posting about my first experience making freezer jam tomorrow.