Salsa/spaghetti sauce - which tomatoes?

2ajsmamaAugust 20, 2010

I have about a quart (little less since I used some) of plum (Roma?) tomatoes from my dad, a couple large Mr. Stripey heirlooms that are going mushy in spots, and a couple quarts of beefsteaks. Was going to try Annie's salsa (prob. fresh, salsa doesn't last long around here once opened), but was wondering if there was a particular type of tomato that works/tastes best in that?

I like plum tomatoes for spaghetti sauce, but since I don't have many would have to supplement with another kind,was thinking all beefsteak for the salsa and heirloom and plum for sauce? But if I should use one/both of those for the salsa, I guess I won't make sauce. Thanks

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've made Annie's Salsa with all kind of tomatoes. Better if they are not too ripe if you want them to remain in chunks. If it is a really juicy tomato, I just cut in half and squeeze juice/seeds out into a colander and let them sit for a while to drain.
The salsa has always come out great using a variety of tomatoes varying from green red to red in color (red tomatoes).
Jim in So Calif

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 8:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks - I figured I'd cut the soft spots out of the Mr. Stripeys. That was the only heirloom I could find, and I thought it would just have orange stripes but mostly turn red, so I left them too long. Turns out they're supposed to be yellow and orange, not red and orange.

After reading so many (all? Is it possible LOL?) threads on Annie's salsa, I've decided to make it fresh with no sugar and 1/3C (or less if I don't have enough tomatoes) of lemon/lime juice, see how that tastes. If I find I have enough to can, I'll add sugar and vinegar to the pot after I measure out the stuff to put in the fridge.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 8:58AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Any type of tomato can be used to make both salsa or sauce and many of us find that using a variety of different tomatoes results in a much better tasting sauce or salsa.

Personally I would never limit myself to using only paste-types. They don't have much of a taste reputation when compared to slicing varieties. They are great dried but turn flat when cooked down.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 9:32AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bumble_doodle(Z5 CT)

ajsmama, you don't have to add the sugar to can it. It's for taste only. I left it out of our last batch and it was fine. I did make sure to taste it first though as I'm guessing it would depend on the sweetness of the toms. I used a mix of Jet Star, Better boy and a few from the farm market.

I see you're also in CT. If you need to get more toms, Big Y has native tomatoes for $.99/lb this week. After my last batch of Annie's Salsa, I'm low on the larger home grown stuff this week. I picked some up last night to try the Chunky Tomato Basil recipe. It's had mixed reviews here but I thought I'd give it a shot. After all, it has to be better than the grocery store stuff! :)

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 9:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I figured the sugar was to counter all the vinegar, so I'd only add it to can. Thanks for the tip about Big Y - I checked the garden a couple hrs ago, have some almost-ripe that would be good for salsa, just wanted to have them dry off a little b4 picking. All "Home Depot" beefsteaks (tag didn't say what variety).

Coons got into the corn! We thought we were so lucky they hadn't figured out where it was yet - nope, they were just waiting for it to be ready! DH picked 5 small ears last night, guess that's for dinner tonight (just have to figure out the main course).

BTW, can you provide a link to the Chunky Tomato Basil recipe?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 9:54AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bumble_doodle(Z5 CT)

I forgot to mention it's a pasta sauce....

Here's the link:

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 10:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks. I didn't want to start another "Annie's Salsa" thread, but I just got done making it. I blanched, peeled, cored and seeded all my ripe tomatoes (plum and beefsteak) and didn't quite have 8C of chunks so I cut out the mushy parts (a lot more than I thought) of 1 of the Mr. Stripeys, peeled it as best I could, seeded and threw it in to make 8C. Now, maybe I didn't drain them long enough (though it took forever to get them done and I threw them in a colander as I chopped, there wasn't much juice in the bowl under the colander). Maybe it was b/c I put in 15oz can of tomato sauce but my can of paste looked bulgy so I didn't put that in. But 10 minutes of boiling reduced this to soup! I used a slotted spoon and pulled out the chunkier parts, still a lot of liquid in the jars. Started processing 2 pints since I did have 8C of tomatoes. Quickly blanched, peeled, seeded and cored another ripe tomato (maybe too ripe) that I had put aside, threw in 1/5C sugar to hopefully help it to thicken (like jam?), but it wasn't quite enough. Filled another pint anyway, put it in to process, others had been in 5 min so I marked the 3rd jar. Still had a lot of liquid, like spicy soup, thought I'd put that in PB jar in fridge and use it on enchilandas or something. Still heard jars and pot lid rattling. But then when timer went off and I took 2 jars out, saw it wasn't boiling - I should have known since it wasn't spitting water all over my glass cooktop. Maybe the burner was on too long and the limiter took over? I had switched burners after blanching, but started this burner before I start chopping so maybe it was just on too long?

Anyway, I started the timer for the 3rd jar after switching burners and getting it boiling again so that should be fine, but it looks very soupy. I stuck the first 2 jars on potholders in the fridge after they had cooled a little, b/c I didn't know if I could/should reprocess while they were still hot w/o using new lids, and also I didn't want to overprocess it b/c they were already not as chunky as we like.

While that was processing, I ran to the garden and picked 3 more almost-ripe tomatoes, blanched, peeled, etc. and added them to the spicy liquid that I had immediately poured back out of the PB jar into the pot once I realized I had more than enough for the jar. Added 1tsp cumin and scant Tbsp salt, a little pepper, and after only 5 min my fresh tomatoes disintegrated so I filled a Classico jar and almost filled the PB, let them cool a little on the counter while I cleaned up, then stuck them in the fridge on a towel.

So now I've got 2 pints of semi-chunky (but not as chunky as we like) no-sugar salsa, and maybe 32oz of "spicy tomato soup" in the fridge, and only 1 pint of low-sugar "Annie's" cooling on the counter. We like salsa, but don't go through it that quickly! Plus we like it chunkier. What can I do with this, and would the tomato paste have helped thicken it, or is this supposed to be a rather thin salsa?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 2:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Not sure I follow all this but it doesn't sound like Annie's salsa. Maybe you were trying to make too many adjustments or do too many things at one time?

Most definitely the tomato paste would have thickened it and quite a bit. That is why it is included. And the type and amount of draining is crucial as is removing most of the gel and seeds.

But it is the ripeness of the tomatoes used - yours sound like they may have been way over-ripe - and the hand chopping that will most determine the texture. The more coarsely you chop the chunkier the salsa. Still it does have to have a fair amount of liquid in the jars to can safely so if it is too soupy for you just drain the jar before serving.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 3:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, all but the last 3 tomatoes I threw in the jars I didn't process were ripe. I wasn't making any adjustments (even used a whole cup of lemon/lime juice) except for omitting the sugar, but then I found I didn't have any paste.

I cut them fairly large (and seeded them well), but as I said there wasn't much liquid drained out - are you supposed to salt them or press them or anything to drain?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 4:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My uncle called and invited us over to go swimming so I'm taking a jar to him - he doesn't mind drippy salsa, and said he'd keep it in the fridge.

But any ideas for using the rest (besides draining b4 use)? Can I perhaps add fresh chopped or canned diced tomatoes (and more cilantro b/c we like cilantro) after opening?

Don't really want to "cook" each jar with added paste every time we open one. Thanks

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 4:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, first, the texture. The tomato paste does thicken it, that's why I put it in, since cornstarch and etc. isn't recommended in canning. I peel the tomatoes and use my thumb to get out most of the seeds and goo, leaving the meaty part of the tomato, then I cut the tomato remains into quarters if they are small, 8ths or 10th if they're big. I use big chunks of tomatoes so they don't cook down so much.

Mine is pretty thick and chunky, but as Dave mentioned, it has to be liquid enough that density isn't a problem.

So what would I do with it? First, I'd put a bit in a bowl and add a drop of tomato paste. Stir and taste, you might not have to cook it longer to get it thicker, that might be good enough.

If not, maybe you could make some enchiladas with that as sauce...


    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 4:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
zabby17(z5/6 Ontario)


As Annie says, the tomato paste is the key to this salsa having a not-too-drippy consistency. Draining the tomatoes helps if you don't use plum types, and so does the tomato sauce, but the paste makes a BIG difference. (But I think you were right to not use a "bulgy" can, believe me!)

But as to what you can do with the "salsa soup," my recommendation is, well, to go with it and make soup! ONe reason I make so much of Annie's salsa is having discovered (thanks to this forum) that adding can of rinsed, drained black beans --- and some corn if you have some --- to it and heating it up produces one rockin' Southwestern-style tomato soup!


    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 5:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

"Ripe" means different things to different people. Some don't consider a tomato ripe until is is squishy. Firm, even what some might call not quite ripe, work best.

The amount of liquid in a particular tomato is also governed by how long you leave it on the vine. That is one reason why so many of us pick at blush and let them ripen inside - much less juice and less watered down flavor that way. So yes, perhaps your tomatoes needed a bit of squeezing so pressing so that you would end up with 8 cups of really well drained tomatoes.

But it all boils down to a matter of personal preference. What some might find too "drippy" or too watery, many others would find just right or even too thick. But a really thick salsa can't be processed safely so draining after opening is the standard compromise.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 5:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I see, thanks. We like really thick salsa. The tomatoes "gave" a little, I wouldn't call them squishy (like the soft heirloom I cut more than half out of), so I consider them ripe, but not overripe (perfect for sandwiches, salads, eating sliced with salt). But they may have been too ripe for cooking. I also cut a fist-sized tomato into 8ths b/c I thought quarters were too big.

The last 2 (unprocessed) jars were mild (really no peppers or onions, just the flavor) and runny. We ate almost a pint at my uncle's. The rest I'll make soup or enchiladas with. Now, do you think the first 2 jars I processed (ended up being longer than 15 min, but water wasn't at a full rolling boil) are OK to shelve, or do I need to keep them refrigerated?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 5:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Now, do you think the first 2 jars I processed (ended up being longer than 15 min, but water wasn't at a full rolling boil) are OK to shelve, or do I need to keep them refrigerated?

Refrigerate. Since it never got up to temp it is under-processed and salsa is risky enough as it is.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 6:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

No problem - they've been in there all afternoon, and after my aunt and my DH got home I brought over the Classico jar and the 2 of them (plus DS) just about polished that off (along with was was left in the PB jar), so I left it there. Now we just have the 3 processed (2 of them underprocessed) pints. I may just stick the 1 "good" jar in there too b/c I think we will be opening it - should be more on the "mild" side like the unprocessed jars, the first 2 jars got all the peppers and onions so those are for DH.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 9:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just read the post on someone's "own recipe" salsa that didn't have enough acid, Linda Lou said to throw out the unopened jars. I did have enough acid and also boiled "Annie's" salsa enough, but since those 2 jars were underprocessed, there is still the risk of botulism, right? So is it safe to store them in the fridge *with the seals intact*, b/c that creates an anaerobic environment? I know it would be safe to store if they weren't sealed.

Those 2 jars have been in the fridge since an hour or so after coming out of the canner - were still pretty hot when I put them in, didn't nee potholders to touch, but did need them to pick up and carry over to the fridge, and put on so I didn't crack the glass shelf. The last jar (fully processed) I stuck in there the next day, just b/c I figured we'd be opening it for DS this week (milder) and also hoped it would thicken.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 8:57AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

but since those 2 jars were underprocessed, there is still the risk of botulism, right?

No. This is a good example of the confusion that comes from trying to compare/generalize from one recipe to another. Botulism can't grow in an acid environment. Yours had enough acid to begin with, the other recipe did not so it was at risk. It is the acid level that is crucial with foods that are processed in a BWB, not the processing. Only high acid and higly acidified foods can be processed in a BWB. That other recipe was very low in acid.

Further yours were less than 24 hours old, the others were not, yours went into the fridge immediately, the others did not.

Think of it this way - say you had some left over salsa in the pot when you were filling the jars. It wasn't enough to fill another jar so you put it in a small jar and stuck it into the fridge to eat soon. There is no difference between your safe recipe acidified salsa that was just under-processed and so put in the fridge than there is with that left-over from the pot because it was properly acidified to begin with.


    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 9:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I thought that botulism only grew in an oxygen-free environment, which is the difference between the sealed (under-processed) jars and just putting leftover in an unsealed (but covered) jar in the fridge.

I know the difference b/t the recipes is that Annie's has enough acid to use a BWB and the other doesn't. The only reason I mentioned that post was b/c it got me thinking about the *sealed* jars and that botulism may not have been killed by the acid and cooking, b/c I didn't process long enough.

So, if botulism is not a concern in a high-acid environment, why is under-processing, if the seal is good? You said that salsa is "risky" - what exactly is the risk in this case? Spoilage/mold? But I thought that couldn't grow in vacuum-sealed jars? Is the concern that I didn't get all the air out b/c the water wasn't at a rolling boil the whole 15 minutes?

I'm still learning...none of the books I've gotten from the library discuss *why* water has to be vigorously boiling, or why it has to be kept over the tops of the jars the whole time - it is to seal them (but then I've had hot food I stuck in the fridge with re-used lid seal too)? To kill bacteria? Why wouldn't bacteria (not including botulism, i know that can withstand high heat) be killed by cooking and processing in *gently* boiling water, up to the level of the top of the food? I'd like to know the purpose of keeping the water 1-2" above the jars the whole time (esp. since pints are the largest I can fit in my stockpot and to keep it at that level *and* rolling means that water boils out under the lid and spits all over my stove/countertop/floor and I have to keep refilling it from a boiling teakettle.

I'd also like to know what to watch out for with high-acid or acidified foods, if I don't have to worry about botulism, then whatever else is there will be visible (mold, cloudiness, smell, bubbles)? I want to make sure all the pickles I processed are safe, and anything my aunt or cousin gives me is too (though I won't take any salsa or tomato products from them since I don't know how much acid they use).


    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 11:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

You have a few misconceptions about botulism - both the bacteria which is all around us normally indoors and out, and the toxin it may produce which might make us ill, how it grows, how it is affected by refrigeration and heat, its risks, and what kills it (acid doesn't and neither does a BWB, only pressure canning kills it) so you might want to do some web research into it.

But as far as canning goes, foods that are properly canned and properly processed are safe. Foods that are NOT properly canned or properly processed have associated risks. Which type of risk and how much risk all depends on a great many variables and to address each one would take pages and pages. In this particular case of under processing it is the air that remained in the food and in the jar because the water wasn't hot enough to bring the food inside the jar to a boil and force the air out. So while you have a seal, it is a compromised seal and there is still air and an incomplete vacuum inside the jar.

So the bottom line in home canning safety is "when in doubt, throw it out". If you are worried about your salsa, then toss it out. We each have to determine our own level of comfortable risk.


PS: instead of books from the library you'd be better served by doing some extensive reading into all the info on the NCHFP website. They offer copious publications online, lots of FAQs on many of the basic issues, and current, accurate, detailed information on canning safety issues. You might even consider taking their free online canning course.

Here is a link that might be useful: NCHFP - Ensuring Safe Canned Foods

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 1:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What I have gleaned from the NCHFP and other sites, books is that botulism spores exist in soil, but don't do any harm in a normal-oxygen environment (other than infant botulism, wound botulism, but we're talking food here). From Colorado State website:

"Type A toxin is more lethal than types B and E. The toxin is a protein which can be inactivated by heating at 180 degrees F for 10 minutes. The toxin can be absorbed into the blood stream through the respiratory mucous membranes as well as through the wall of the stomach and intestine.

Several conditions must be present for the germination and growth of Clostridium botulinum spores. Acid level is a primary factor. Acidity is measured on a pH scale of 0 to 14, with 7 considered neutral, 0 to 7 acidic and 7 to 14 alkaline. A pH near 7 or neutral favors the growth of Clostridium botulinum, while growth is inhibited at a pH of 4.6 or lower. The pH of a food also has an influence on the amount of heat necessary to kill the spores of Clostridium botulinum. The higher the pH (lower the acid level), the greater the amount of heat needed to kill the spores.

A second important factor affecting the growth and toxin production of Clostridium botulinum is temperature. Proteolytic types grow between temperatures of 55 and 122 degrees F, with most rapid growth occurring at 95 degrees F. Nonproteolytic types grow between 38 and 113 degrees F, with an optimum for growth and toxin production at about 86 degrees F. For these types, refrigeration above 38 degrees F may not be a complete safeguard against botulism.

Another important condition affecting the growth of Clostridium botulinum is the present of oxygen. These organisms can't grow if air or free oxygen is present in their microenvironment (the area immediately next to them). This area is so small that it is not readily observed. Therefore, it is possible to have conditions develop in a food system or wound whereby it appears that lots of air is available, but in reality there are areas where no air is present and anaerobic organisms, such as Clostridium botulinum, can develop. Anaerobic conditions develop when food is canned. If the food is not heated enough to kill the spores of Clostridium botulinum, the spores will germinate and grow during subsequent storage of the food."

So refrigerating the food won't kill the toxin, though according to above all you have to do is bring the food to 180 degrees (not 240 degrees as I've seen elsewhere) to kill it. But sealing it if you haven't killed the spores is a big concern, whether you refrigerate it or not. Sorry, it's the combination of acid and heat that kill the spores, not one or the other.

Assuming that there are no spores in the acidified food, why is underprocessing an issue? Other bacteria, molds? I'm just trying to figure out why you recommended refrigerating the underprocessed (but sealed) jars. Also why rolling boil is required instead of gentle boil, etc. NCHFP doesn't provide that info.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 2:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Assuming that there are no spores in the acidified food, why is underprocessing an issue?

Because there is no way to make that assumption safely. You have no way of knowing if they are there or not. And given that spores are in the air and in foods and on surfaces all around us, the functioning assumption for safety is that they ARE there.

Plus you are putting the cart before the horse. Under-processing is a safety issue period. It isn't acceptable. It can't be justified after the fact. It can only be dealt with either by reprocessing within 24 hours or refrigeration or freezing, or by pitching the food. This, regardless of what may or may not be in the food.

'm just trying to figure out why you recommended refrigerating the underprocessed (but sealed) jars.

As I said above, In this particular case of under processing it is the air that remained in the food and in the jar because the water wasn't hot enough to bring the food inside the jar to a boil and force the air out. So while you have a seal, it is a compromised seal and there is still air and an incomplete vacuum inside the jar.

Can't say it any plainer. Under-processed jars still have air in the jar. If there is bacteria in the jar that air allows it to grow. And the jars have compromised seals, that are easily broken. Refrigerating the jars retards the growth of any contaminants inside the jar and allows you a brief time to to consume them safely just like anything else you buy at the store and bring home to stick in the fridge.

We are beating a dead horse here. It all comes down to do it right so it is safe or pitch it. Don't try to reason around mistakes or come up with compromises unless you are willing to accept the associated risks. I offered you what is considered by most to be an acceptable compromise - a short but safe life in the refrigerator for under-processed foods. If you aren't comfortable with it then just pitch the food.

Also why rolling boil is required instead of gentle boil, etc.

The simple answer would be because that is what the research shows is needed for the processing time allowed.

But yes, NCHFP does explain it - so did basic high school chemistry class on the molecular action of boiling water. ;) A full rolling boil at 220 degrees is approximately 10 degrees higher than a gentle boil and all the extra molecular action, the increased friction between the molecules, within the water allows for faster heat transfer to the food inside the jar so that food is brought to 212 degrees in less time and for a longer amount of time than would happen with less activity in the water.

In other words, when a gentle boil is used, food in the jar doesn't get as hot as quickly or remain hot for as long a period of time as it would at a full rolling boil. Since it is the heating of the food that forces the air out of the jar to create a vacuum you need it to get as hot as possible in as short a time as possible.

Don't sell NCHFP short. There is months and months of reading and learning there both on the site itself and in it's many publications linked from the site.


    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 3:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks - I'm just looking for the "why". Didn't recall from HS that rolling boil is 8 degrees hotter - and all the websites say "boil", in fact I did see some that said "Cover canner, set timer for processing time required, and adjust heat setting to maintain a gentle boil." so now I'm really confused - maybe these weren't underprocessed, since the water was still boiling and the lid was rattling, it just wasn't splashing all over?

If botulism is the concern, though, wouldn't it have been better to open the jars before putting them in the fridge (since I didn't want to destroy the texture by reprocessing)? I would have no qualms about keeping them in the fridge *unsealed* for 3-6 days but was just wondering if keeping them sealed was compounding the mistake. Would it have been safer to break the seals?

I'm not saying underprocessing is safe, just wondering if acid/cooking killed the botulism, and therefore if likely risk is something else that can be identified by sight/smell, if they might last a week in the fridge (but I can tell if they're going bad), or if I should pitch (or boil them for soup) now. Plus since I have a glass cooktop, this might happen again in the future and I want to know what the best thing to do then is - if I can't reprocess right away.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 4:45PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Dehydrate Bok Choy
Does anyone have an experience dehydrating Bok Choy....
Katie's Roasted Garlic Tomato Soup
I made her soup the other day and I am here to tell...
True "Daylight Savings"
Crankshaft comic Strip for Sunday, March 08, 2015 I...
Freezing Orange Juice
Has anyone successfully frozen orange juice? When I...
Sterilizing jars and tools
Hello, I think I'm getting a little neurotic about...
Sponsored Products
Handmade Wool Lori Toni Rug (2'6 x 10')
8 Player Croquet Set With 28" Handles
Barcelona Ottoman
IFN Modern
WAC Modern Forms | Neo WS-3712 Flush Mount Ceiling Light
$199.00 | YLighting
Trellis Hearts Giclee Glow Black Bronze Floor Lamp
Lamps Plus
Patton Prairie Bronze Finish Two Light Vanity Fixture with Frosted Glass
$49.99 | Bellacor
39x39 Marble Travertine Glass Coffee Table - ANTICA
Cromwell Side Table
$799.00 | FRONTGATE
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™