|It's OK to not follow the recipe|
I mentioned in The SHTF Stockpile that while I'm not a fan of storing freeze-dried foods generally, I'm a big fan of dried canning mixes. This is not only because I'm lazy, but because when learning a new skill, like canning, you need to have some success. While storing a bunch of bottles of salsa is a prep, making a bunch of them is a prep and an experience. Using a canning mix can go a long way toward making that experience a good one.
That said, my home-grown tomatoes are not such a deep red, nor does the canning mix I used have big chunks of bell peppers, onions, and jalapenos like this salsa.
So here's how I cheated: Yeah, I followed the instructions on the back of the package. Except that instead of using 6 lbs of fresh tomatoes or 3 14-oz cans of canned ones, I went 2/3 fresh* and 1/3 canned - that way I got the texture of the fresh tomatoes and the color of the canned ones. In addition to the mix, I chopped in a dozen fresh jalapenos and a couple of bell peppers from the garden and added a handful of freeze-dried onions.**
The result? A hot(ter) salsa with deep color, fresh-tomato texture, chunks of peppers and onions, but which was still balanced and (most importantly) safe to open-boil can because it followed an established recipe. Eventually, probably, we'll have to get along without mixes and perhaps even store-bought vinegars. But experimenting and practicing today will make that eventuality much easier, and one would hope, much safer.
* including a couple under-ripe ones. Not green, though, just sort of orange.
** See, I even cheat on the stuff I say I don't like. Actually, freeze-dried onions are one of the most useful freeze-dried foods you'll find. Especially if you want to save your garden onions for topping burgers.