Here we go again – the first freeze of the fall on it’s way and I’m bundled in my parka and bedroom slippers frantically picking firm, green globes from my tomato vines.
Short Growing Season
I know, high elevation gardeners like me are crazy to plant tomatoes. At 6,700 feet above sea level my growing season in Steamboat Springs, Colorado averages 58 days from the last spring frost to the first freeze of the fall. That’s not nearly enough time to grow a decent, ripened tomato…and yet I try year after year.
Hacks for High Elevation Gardening
My Master Gardener friends have tips to increase the odds of tomato growing success. I choose cultivars that mature quickly, like Early Girl tomatoes. I buy mature starts to give my plants extra growing time. Each tomato plant in my raised bed is lovingly nestled into a water-filled cocoon (Wall-of-Water) that holds heat around the plants during cool nights.
Embrace Your Crop of Green Tomatoes
My new philosophy on growing tomatoes at high elevations - if I can’t grow ripened tomatoes, then I’ll learn how to enjoy the green ones. (Or stop trying to grow tomatoes all together, which is just no fun.)
If you’re like me and have a lot of unripened tomatoes, I’ve got the recipe for you. Once I discovered this recipe for Green Tomato and Lime Salsa, I stopped wishing for a longer growing season. Yes, I’m admitting that I’ve gotten so accustomed to harvesting baskets of green tomatoes, that I look forward to making my green salsa each year.
A Taste Like No Other
This salsa recipe pares the brightness of lime juice and the earthy flavor of cumin to create a salsa like no other. It’s an instant hit whenever I bring a jar with a bag of tortilla chips to a party.
No green tomatoes? You can substitute tomatillos for green tomatoes in this recipe.
Try Canning This Salsa
This recipe makes 3 cups of salsa, but if you have a bumper crop of unripened tomatoes, I’ve also provided instructions for canning a double batch of Green Tomato and Lime Salsa.
Give it a try and leave a comment about your experience. I’d love to hear from you.
Green Tomato and Lime Salsa
- 3 ½ cups chopped green tomatoes or tomatillos
- 1 cup finely chopped red onion
- 3-5 jalapeño peppers
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro, loosely packed
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- In a large saucepan, stir together green tomatoes and red onions.
- Using plastic gloves to protect your hands, remove the stems from the jalapeños and cut them in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and ribs from the inside of the jalapeño halves, then finely chop. Add the chopped peppers to the green tomato mixture.
- Add lime juice and garlic to the tomato mixture and heat over medium-high heat to a gentle boil, stirring constantly.
- Stir in cilantro, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and bring back to a boil. Stirring constantly, boil the salsa for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and allow the green tomato salsa to cool. Serve salsa with chips or as a sauce for your favorite Mexican dish.
- Prepare water-bath canner, and enough jars and lids to can 6 8-ounce jars or 3 pints of salsa.
- Double the ingredients for Green Tomato and Lime Salsa to make 6 cups of salsa.
- Ladle hot salsa into jars leaving ½- inch head space. Using a paper towel, wipe the rim of each jar with white vinegar.
- One jar at a time, center a heated, flat lid on the jar, then lightly screw a band over the lid to hold it in place.
- Put the jars in your prepared canner, ensuring that they are covered by 1-2 inches of water. When the water returns to a boil begin timing the processing. Both half-pints and pints should be processed for 20 minutes plus additional time for altitude adjustments.
- When processing is complete, turn off the heat and crack the lid open to allow the steam to escape and the jars to slowly cool. After 5 minutes you can remove the jars from the canner to cool.
Altitude Adjustment Chart - for water-bath canning
|1,001- 3,000 feet||5 minutes|
|3,001- 6,000 feet||10 minutes|
|6,001-8,000 feet||15 minutes|
|8,001-10,000 feet||20 minutes|
Anytime you preserve food at an elevation above 1,000 feet you must adjust the processing time for your altitude. Steamboat’s elevation is about 6,700 feet above sea level, so I always add an extra 15 minutes of processing time according to the USDA recommendations.4