Homemade Rotel-Style Tomatoes
Our summers tend to end with a mad dash of canning and preserving food. It’s hard to beat having a pantry stocked with preserved summer produce and opening up a jar of homemade strawberry jam well after peak strawberry season has ended.
Tomatoes are one of those foods that people are often wary to can, but the method is pretty much the same as any other. The key is acidifying the tomatoes, which we did using bottled lemon juice. That’s really the only major difference. Though I’ve read a pressure canner is the better option for canning tomatoes, we didn’t have any problems using the water bath method.
This particular batch of tomatoes is Rotel-style. In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, Rotel tomatoes are diced tomatoes mixed with green chiles. Rotel was a staple in my house growing up and was usually eaten in the form of “queso” made with it and a block of Velveeta. My favorite was when it had ground sausage, too. That was my go-to party recipe in high school and college. These days, we use it in things like this southwest pasta or these chicken enchilada pinwheels. And with tomatoes this good, you can bet a version of that childhood dip I loved so much, sans Velveeta, is in the works.
If you’re new to canning, check out my post on the basics of water bath canning to get you acquainted with the process. I promise it’s not as intimidating as you might think!
- YIELD: 4 (12-ounce) jars
3 Hatch chile peppers
5 pounds Roma tomatoes (also known as plum or paste tomatoes)
8 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
Prepare a boiling water bath and 4 (12-ounce) jelly jars. Place lids in a small saucepan, cover them with water, and simmer over very low heat.
Heat your broiler and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place the peppers on the baking sheet and broil for 3-4 minutes, until one side is blistered and blackened. Flip and continue cooking on the other sides, until the entire pepper is roasted and blistered. Fold up the foil so that the peppers can steam. When cool enough to handle, remove the skins and seeds and then dice the peppers.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Core the tomatoes and score the bottoms with a shallow “X.” Fill a large bowl about ⅔ full with ice water and place near the stove.
Working in batches, blanch the tomatoes for 1-2 minutes, then use a slotted spoon to transfer to the ice bath. Allow the water to come back to a boil, then repeat the process until all the tomatoes have been blanched. Once the tomatoes are cool to touch, remove the skins.
Chop the tomatoes and place them, along with any juices, into a large pot. Add the Hatch chiles and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook for 30-45 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to each prepared jar. Carefully ladle the hot tomatoes into the jars, leaving ½-inch of headspace. Use a chopstick to remove any air bubbles, then adjust the amount of tomatoes if needed.
Wipe the rims, screw on the lids (just fingertip tight!) and process in a boiling water bath for 35 minutes. When the time is up, turn off the burner (and move your pot if using an electric stove) and remove the lid. Allow the jars to cool in the water for 10 minutes to prevent any liquid loss that can occur when the temperature changes rapidly.
Lift the jars out of the water and set them on a folded kitchen towel until they cool completely. Once cool, test the seals by pressing down on each lid. If any jars didn’t seal, place them in the refrigerator and use promptly.