March Can Jam: Salsa Criolla

19 Mar

It’s can jam time again, friends.  I’ve done this twice before.  In sum, us can jammers are canning something every month of 2010.  The item to be canned is chosen at the end of the previous month by one of the participating bloggers.  So far, I did tangerine jam two ways in January, and Mexican style pickled carrots, onions, and jalapenos in February.  For March, this here blogger chose the allium family for the month’s challenge.  Meet the alliums!  Onions, garlic, leeks, chives, scapes, ramps, and so on.  We got to choose the allium member we wanted to get better acquainted with.  Of course, I wanted to find some kind of video or picture of an cute anthropomorphized onion or garlic.  No scape in a jaunty hat top be found, but I did find this, though. A picture of a nervous onion about to be onion-body cavity searched by some power hungry pickling cukes.

I'm not sure why the onion had the pants on in the first place...

I had a lot of ideas for this challenge.  Some just weren’t in season yet.  Growing up, my pops and grandma canned every summer in my grandma’s awesome and at that time steam laden basement.  My grandma is German through and through.  Wash your hands in the zink, kids!  So there were always pickled sweet things in jars everywhere, with interesting names like senf gherkins and various and sundry relishes.  The pickles were always too sweet for my taste.  My pop’s favorite were pickled pearl onions.  I kinda wanted to make some for his upcoming birthday, but I think it was too early to find these in markets.  I’ll make some in the coming months.  I found a good recipe for pearl onions pickled in gin and juniper berries. Yes!  I also wanted to make an onion jam, but the kind I want isn’t suitable to be hot water processed either, due to the low acid content in onions.  I’ve got some extra onions though, so I’m gonna try my hand at a non-processed onion jam for steaks and burgs.  As always, stay tuned for that, friends!

I love onions.  Onions rings are my f’in homies!  Unless the fries at an establishment look awesome, I’m subbing in onion rings.  I made some beer battered rings last summer!  Go Onions!

Fryin' up rings! Stayed tuned for the recipe.

Oh and I grew my first alliums last summer, red onions, little and cute though they were, and leeks.

Look at these roots!

Took these a long time to grow, but success!

I think their roots are beautiful.  Art in it’s purest form, right?  This year, I’m planting more.  I just got my onion starts, and I’m psyched to get ’em in the ground.

Finally, I decided to use the allium that I most often find myself eating on an almost daily basis.  Red onions!  I have red onions in my salads pretty much all the time, and I do love salads.  I put loads of them (and garlic!) in my guac.  I put them on my hot dogs and hamburgers and brats–raw!    I load them on sandwiches.  I love the pickled red onions in Indian restaurants.

After much combing of the interwebs and various cookbooks, I decided to make a salsa corilla, or a red onion salsa.

Listen to the red onion rag!

Yes, the Red Onion Rag!

The king of ragtime, Scott Joplin…you may know him for his classic, The Entertainer, is from St. Louis.

You can go to the Scott Joplin House in St. Louis!  Then go to a movie at the Tivoli (best theater in St. Louis! Yours truly has seen everything from Go Fish to Beavis and Butthead Do America to Milk at this beautiful theater) and finish up your night at Riddle’s.  Sweet.

Anyway, what was I talking about?  Oh yeah, onions.

Salsa criolla is a Peruvian onion, pepper and lime salsa, and I thought it would be good to have in my growing larder at the homestead.

Salsa Criolla

Adapted from The Complete Book of Pickling, by Jennifer McKenzie.


Red onions.  3 pounds.

Peppers.  If you can find aji chili pepers, you’re lucky.  Use those.  I used jalapenos.  2-4.  I used 4 of them.  Seeded and minced.

Lime zest.  About 3 tsps.

Lime juice.  About 1/2 cup.

Cilantro.  About 3/4 cup.

Sugar.  1/2 cup.

Pickling salt.  2 Tbsp.

White vinegar.  4 cups.

Black pepper.  Fresh ground.  1 tsp.

You'll need your recipe, a knife and cutting board, maybe a scale, and a beer. No big whoop!


1.  Slice your onions lengthwise and cut away the roots.  Please, for the love of God, wear goggles.  You’re gonna be cutting these bad boys for awhile.

I kinda felt a little like Dr. Horrible in Double S's swim goggles. But look ma, no tears. And yes, that is my larder in the background!

2.  Slice the onions thin and lengthwise.

Red onions are one of the prettiest alliums, methinks!

I did it this way, but in retrospect I think that cutting them into very thin half moons would be better suited for salsa.  The choice is yours.

Pick it up, pick it up, pick it up!

3.  In a large non-reactive bowl, combine the onions and the salt.  Mix them all up well.  Your clean hands work best.  Cover and let sit for an hour or so.



It seemed like a shame to drain the liquid from these now soft beauties, but it must be done.  Drain the onions in a colander, then rinse them well and drain again.

4.  Meanwhile, start prepping your jars and lids, and bring your canning pot to a boil.

5.  In a large pot or skillet, combine onions, jalapenos, sugar, black pepper, and vinegar.  Cook on medium high heat and bring to a boil. Stir often.

Lookin' good!

After you reach boil, reduce heat and lightly boil for about 5 minutes or until your lil’ beauts are translucent.  Keep stirring.

6.  When you’re ready to rock (read: can!), stir in the lime zest, lime juice and cilantro.

Here's what makes the criolla special...

7.  Ladle the hot salsa into your sterilized jars.  Leave one inch headspace at the top.  Use a spatula to push the salsa into the jar and remove air bubbles.  Wipe the rim of the jars with a clean cloth.  Cap and screw on the rings till they are just slightly tight.

Ready to ladle!

Success! Now time for these baddies to bathe!

8.  Place jars into boiling water in your canning pot.  Process for 10 minutes, then pull them up on the rack and leave them slightly in the water for an additonal 5 minutes to let them adjust to the new temperature.  Listen for those pops of success!

Mandatory shot of cans in hot water!

You’re done!  Let the jars sit undisturbed for 24 hours.

I’m happy o report that this stuff is good, and it’s Double S’s favorite can jam I’ve done so far.   It’s kind of like a simple red onion in vinegar, which I almost made but thought would be anticlimactic, but the ante is really upped by the lime and cilantro, which makes these pickled onions different and what I was going for.  There’s only so much veggies sitting in vinegar that one can eat, am I right?  I’d say adding more lime and zest would be even better, and maybe also cutting the sugar even more.  I cut the sugar from 1 cup to 1/2 cup, and it’s still a bit sweet for my taste.

Let's eat! Beans, rice and guac were enjoyed with this tonight!

Two days later, these were even better.  The cilantro taste really shone through.  Salsa criolla is good on meat, rice, tacos, and I may dice some up in my marinades and guacamole.  Enjoy!


7 Responses to “March Can Jam: Salsa Criolla”

  1. meg March 19, 2010 at 9:02 AM #

    Love the pics! Too awesome! Recipe sounds great–oh how I love cilantro…the more the better!

  2. sonja March 19, 2010 at 11:48 AM #

    The lime zest looks so good in the pictures, and I think you put in the perfect proportion – maybe the reason its my fav!
    BT Dubs, The Entertainer was one of the few songs I mastered in my failing piano career as a 2nd grader. Ah, St. Louis, is there anything you can’t do?

  3. ap269 March 25, 2010 at 3:00 AM #

    Your posts crack me up. Thanks for making my day!

    • ohbriggsy March 25, 2010 at 1:37 PM #

      thanks! and hey, i love LOVE LOVE cornichons too! i’m kind of obsessed with them right now!

  4. eatingplaces March 31, 2010 at 1:45 PM #

    Thanks so much for the recipe and great pictures. I can’t wait to try this out.

    • ohbriggsy March 31, 2010 at 2:11 PM #

      hey, no problem! enjoy! and thanks for reading! and i’d say that extra lime and lime zest would make this recipe even better.


  1. My Own CanJam Allium Roundup « Grow & Resist - March 25, 2010

    […] Oh, Briggsy Salsa Criolla.  Great recipe. Great post–chock full of picks, stories & video.  Fantastic! […]

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