It is not important to everyone – and that’s perfectly alright – but I get a great deal of personal satisfaction from growing, preserving, and cooking many of the foods that we eat through the year.
Although our freezer space is limited, and I cannot put up dozens of these, one of our favorite ways to preserve a God-provided abundance of tomatoes and peppers over the last several years has been the “salsa kit.” This collection of ingredients common to our favorite fresh salsa gets frozen and vacuum sealed, then popped back into the freezer for preparation later. (I freeze the kit IN the unsealed bag, then seal the kit – this helps the vegetables to hold their shape).
For us, each kit contains fully ripe tomatoes, bell pepper, hot pepper, onion, and garlic. What peppers we use varies, depending on what we have ripening at any given time. If I don’t have any bell pepper on hand, I will occasionally pack a kit without it and buy a bell pepper at the store when I know I am going to use the kit. Most of our kits are made with Early Girl tomatoes, but we also use Romas.
Because most of the time there are just the two of us, we make a small kit. You can make them whatever size fits your family or entertaining needs.
This year, for the first time, I made several of the kits with the Sun Gold cherry tomatoes we grew. This single plant has produced an astounding quantity of larger-than-average, candy sweet fruit – much more than we can possibly eat. Some of them end up sliced and dehydrated – excellent – and the rest have ended up in the salsa kits – or directly into the mouth from the garden!
To prepare the salsa, I empty the contents from the vacuum bag into a cake pan with some olive oil (you can use your oil of choice) and a splash of lime juice, then roast the vegetables in a preheated 350º oven for 30 minutes or until you achieve the doneness you prefer.
Once the components are finished roasting, pull the pan out of the oven and let it cool a few minutes; then toss it all in the blender with a little more olive oil and lime juice, cilantro (either fresh or dried) and whatever spice seasonings you like in your salsa. We keep ours pretty simple and usually only include a little salt and pepper. Depending on your blender, you may have to cut the onion, garlic and/or peppers into smaller pieces before blending.
These kits can also be used to make a quick tomato sauce for Spanish rice or a pasta dish – or it makes a marvelous, flavorful tomato soup on a cold winter day. Yum!