Adjust for Elevation, and more: salsas!

Next on the roster at the NCHFP is Salsa, but–honestly–I’m not going to devote a lot of space to it. For the most part–with a couple of minor exceptions–the approved salsas follow the same basic pattern: you have vegetable matter–tomatoes, peppers of various varieties, onions, fruit, jicama, etc–that gets combined with an acid–vinegar or lime/lemon juice usually–and cooked. The actual proportions and cooking time vary from salsa to salsa, but when it comes to BWB time, salsas made with a fruit base–mango, peach, cranberry, others–seem to be processed:

  • under 1,000 feet = 10 minutes
  • 1,001 -to- 6,000 feet = 15 minutes
  • over 6,001 feet = 20 minutes

Salsas with a vegetable base–tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers and onions–seem to take a bit longer. They’re processed:

  • under 1,000 feet = 15 minutes
  • 1,000 -to- 6,000 feet = 20 minutes
  • over 6,000 feet – 25 minutes

The exception to this processing seems to be jicama-based relish recipe that–for some strange reason–they’ve also added into the group of salsas. Since it also appears with the pickles–where it would more aptly go–I’ll address it when I get to that section.

As far as the acidification level goes, it fluctuates somewhat … based on what else you’re putting in the salsa.

For example, the recipe for Chile Salsa II seems to have the least amount of acid: one cup of vinegar for roughly twenty cups of raw vegetables. In that case, the only vegetables included in the salsa are the ones we already know are pretty much interchangeable and easily canned–as long as they’re properly acidified–namely, tomatoes, onions, and peppers. The recipe also states: The only changes you can safely make in this salsa recipe are to substitute bottled lemon juice for the vinegar and to change the amount of pepper and salt. Do not alter the proportions of vegetables to acid and tomatoes because it might make the salsa unsafe. And that’s not the only salsa recipe with that same disclaimer on it. In fact, all of the recipes that use lemon/lime juice as the primary acid use that same disclaimer, as well as the vinegar-laced salsas that have roughly that same 20:1 ratio of vegetable/fruit to acid content. If they call for a larger portion of vinegar than a simple 1/20th, they don’t seem to have that same disclaimer.

Basically, looking over this section and assessing the group as a whole, my perspective is that–using the BWB processing times I listed above, based on either fruit-based salsa or vegetable-based salsa … and using acidification with either vinegar or lemon/lime juice in proportions that are at least as strong as 20 parts vegetable/fruit to one part acid (and–preferably–stronger/more acidified than that) … then you should be able to make a salsa–built to your tastes–out of any of the ingredients they list in any of the salsas on the NCHFP website … with the exception of the jicama relish. I wouldn’t try to use jicama in a salsa that I was canning … unless I was making that same published recipe … because either it needs a whole lot more attention than other vegetables do … or the researcher(s) who put that recipe together used ideas and methods that were different from their contemporaries. Regardless of which is was, I just don’t know enough about why that particular recipe was so far out of range of the others–and I’ve never seen another jicama salsa recipe, or tried to craft one of my own–so I don’t feel comfortable making any suggestions about using jicama in salsas. Any comment I made would be coming from me completely blind, so–while I’m willing to push against the NCHFP in lots of places, based on my own knowledge and experience–I’m not willing to push this one … because I just don’t have enough facts to base any sort of real judgment on.

About Lane

Just a canner ... on this food journey called life :)
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