Chili Salsa: To Your Health!

Dear Readers,
It’s almost time for back to school! Whether you are relaxing together or working together, time spent with your children talking and listening, is essential when they are young so that as they grow up, they feel they can still come and talk to you about the everyday things (plus the really important decisions they must make). Make sure you take time to hear about their day, any challenges they’ve had and support to get their homework done. Work on building a good routine these first couple of weeks and the rest of the year will go much smoother.

One of the things I look forward to this time of year is working together in food preservation. Breaking beans, husking corn and picking tomatoes have been a regular task done by my mother, my aunt and myself. It’s a lot of work and I appreciate more each year the time and effort that many of you spend to enjoy your results when the snow is flying. I’ve received several calls on tomatoes, specifically on salsa recipes, and thought you might enjoy the following information I found from a co-worker in Huron County, Ohio, Deb Angell.

Tomatoes have long been recognized as a fairly good source of vitamin C and they contain a smidgen of beta carotene. But until recently, we didn’t realize the antioxidants that make them a favored commodity for fighting many diseases. Experts urge people to eat more tomatoes and tomato products, at least 5 servings per week. The key is lycopene and you get the best results from this anitioxidant when it is heated or cooked to release its best form.

What can it do for you? Read on. Lycopene can:

  • Fight cancer. In a Harvard study, eating lycopene-rich tomato sauce two to four times weekly could cut prostrate risk by 35% and shrink existing prostrate tumors.
  • Protect lungs. Eating tomatoes helps shield lungs from bad air and cigarette smoke according to a University of North Carolina study. Other research is suggesting that lycopene helps fight off lung cancer.
  • Combat heart disease. People who eat enough tomatoes are less prone to clogged arteries which lead to heart disease. Also it is believed that there is an Aspirin-like substance in the yellow jelly around tomato seeds which helps prevent blood clots.
  • Protect Vision. Lycopene in tomatoes may protect vision by preventing macular degeneration, a common cause of vision loss in older adults. (University of Maryland study)
  • Save Skin. New German studies show eating tomatoes may reduce the damage to the skin by exposure to the sun. The message, however, is not that you can be out in the sun as much as you want if you eat enough tomatoes. Moderation and sun safety is still important.
  • Feed Your Brain. Tomatoes appear to have an anti-aging effect on the brain. A classic study showed that women with the highest lycopene levels in the blood remained the most mentally and physically active.

The overall message…..eating plenty of tomatoes could be a significant contributor to good health, but don’t neglect all the other foods we know are healthy for us too!! Balance and moderation is still the most important key to good health.

The USDA Guide to home canning has recipes for many tomato products, including tomato juice, tomato and vegetable juice blend, tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce and Mexican tomato sauce. Please call us if you would like information about this guide.

Here’s a recipe from there for you to try:

Chili Salsa
Yield: 6-8 pints
2 lbs. Chili peppers
5 lbs. Tomatoes (yellow or red)
1 lb. Onions, chopped
1 cup Vinegar
3 tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Pepper

Wear rubber gloves while handling chili peppers. Wash and dry peppers. Slit the side of each pepper to allow steam to escape. Place peppers in hot oven (400 degrees) or broiler for 6-8 minutes, until skins blister. Place peppers in a pan and cover with a damp cloth to make peels easier to remove. After peppers cook enough to handle and peels loosen, peel each pepper. Discard peels and seeds. Chop peppers.

Wash tomatoes and dip in boiling water for 30-60 seconds or until skins split. Dip in cold water, slip off skins and remove cores. Coarsely chop tomatoes and combine with peppers and remaining ingredients in a large saucepan.

Bring to a boil, cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Fill clean jars, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Adjust lids and process pint jars for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.

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