This tomato salsa canning recipe is packed with tomatoes, peppers, onions, and just enough spicy tingle to tickle your taste buds. Open a jar any time and enjoy with tortilla chips or with your favorite Mexican inspired meals.
Many of us begin a vegetable garden with dreams of preserving the harvest dancing in our heads. Tomatoes, peppers and onions are staples in most gardens and tend to ripen and ready to harvest around the same time. Canning salsa is a great way to preserve the abundant harvest to enjoy all year.
Even if you don’t grow a garden, the fresh ingredients for making salsa are plentiful at farmers’ markets and farm stands during the growing season. Stock up with enough to can a batch of homemade salsa and enjoy the delicious flavors of summer all winter long.
Helpful Tips for Canning Salsa
If you are canning salsa, is important to use recipes that are formulated and tested for safe home canning. Salsa recipes for water bath canning must meet acidity-level requirements to prevent the growth of botulism bacteria.
This recipe is from the “Zesty Salsa” recipe in the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. The only differences between the recipe below and the “Zesty Salsa” recipe is this recipe is cut in half. The ratio of ingredients is the same and maintains the proper acidity level required for safe canning.
Prepare and chop your salsa ingredients before measuring
Wash, peel, seed, and chop your tomatoes, peppers, and onions first, and then measure or weigh them. Cut all vegetables into 1/4-inch pieces.
A kitchen scale comes in very handy when preserving the harvest. I have included both weight and cup measurements in the recipe below.
If you are chopping by hand, wear gloves when handling hot chile peppers and avoid contact with your skin and eyes. If you should accidentally get hot pepper oils on your skin or in your eyes, try these tips to stop the burn.
Select one method of measuring and stick with it throughout the recipe so the ratio of ingredients remains the same.
Use a food processor to save time chopping
A food processor makes chopping easier and less time consuming.
Cut your prepared tomatoes, peppers, and onions into chunks, and then pulse them in the food processor into smaller pieces. Weigh or measure each ingredient and chop more if needed to equal the amount required for the recipe.
Use paste tomatoes for a thick salsa
Paste tomatoes, such as Roma, San Marzano, and Amish Paste, have a firm flesh and will produce a thicker salsa.
Slicing tomatoes can also be used, but they are more watery. Both paste and slicing tomatoes are safe to use for making salsa, but I recommend using paste tomatoes for a denser salsa.
Any variety of peppers can be used for salsa
Pepper varieties can be mixed and matched in this recipe, but do not change the total amount of peppers. The recipe as written produces a medium-hot salsa. Use more hot peppers and fewer mild peppers for a fierier salsa. Some examples of mild peppers include bell, banana, and Anaheim. Hot peppers include habanero, jalapeño, and Serrano.
Do not change the total amount of peppers or the salsa recipe may not be safe for canning.
Any variety of onions can be used
You can use any type of onion in this salsa recipe, including red, yellow, white, or a mixture of all three. Maintain the total amount of onions called for in the recipe to keep the salsa safe for canning.
Vinegar is required to safely can the salsa
The vinegar in this salsa canning recipe is mandatory in order to make this recipe safe for canning. Use white or apple cider vinegar with at least 5% acidity.
- White vinegar is clear vinegar made by distilling corn and rye. Choose an organic brand to avoid genetically modified corn.
- Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apples.
If you do not want to use vinegar, consider trying this Garden Fresh Salsa Recipe and freezing it instead.
Steps for Making and Canning Salsa
If you are new to canning or haven’t canned in a while, it may be helpful to review this article on water bath canning at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.
A more detailed and printable recipe can be found at the bottom of this article, but these are the general steps for making and canning salsa:
Step 1: Gather your canning gear
- Food processor to chop salsa ingredients
- Gloves for handling hot peppers
- Water bath canner
- 6 half pint canning jars or 3 pint canning jars
- Lids and bands
- Canning tools: lid lifter, jar lifter, canning ladle, funnel, and bubble popper
- Plus basic kitchen supplies such as a large bowl, large pots, small pot, kitchen towels, knife, and a cutting board.
Step 2: Prepare the canning equipment
Setup your water bath canner with the canning rack on a large burner of your stove. Wash your jars, place them in the canner, add water and boil the jars for 10 minutes to sterilize.
Heat your canning lids in a small pot over low heat. Keep the canning jars and lids warm until they are ready to use.
Step 3: Prepare the tomatoes
Wash the tomatoes well under running water.
Blanch the tomatoes briefly in boiling water to crack the skin and make it easier to remove.
To blanch tomatoes, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. As the water is heating, fill a large bowl with ice water.
Once the water comes to a boil, dip your tomatoes into the boiling water until the skins crack and loosen, about 30-60 seconds. Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and place in the bowl of ice water to cool. Repeat for all the tomatoes.
Once the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel and chop your tomatoes into 1/4 inch pieces. Weigh or measure the chopped tomatoes and add 3 pounds (or 5 cups) to the large pot.
Step 4: Prepare the peppers
Wash your peppers under running water.
Wear gloves when dealing with hot peppers so you don’t burn your hands.
Roast and peel your peppers if you are using long chile type peppers such as Anaheim or Mexican chiles. The tough skin can give an unpleasant texture to salsa.
Thin-skinned peppers, such as banana, bells jalapeño don’t need to be skinned. Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds and membranes. Chop the peppers into 1/4 inch pieces with a knife or food processor. Weigh or measure the chopped peppers and add 1 1/2 pounds (or 3 cups) total mild and hot peppers to the large pot.
Step 5: Prepare your onions
Use a sharp knife to cut the ends off the onions and slice them in half. Peel off the papery skins and discard.
Cut the onions into 1/4 inch pieces with knife or food processor. Weigh or measure the chopped peppers and add 3/4 pound (or 2 1/2 cups) to the pot.
Step 6: Add the remaining ingredients and simmer the salsa
Add the vinegar, minced garlic, cilantro, and canning salt to the pot. Stir to combine and bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook the salsa for about 10 minutes.
Step 7: Can your salsa
Add the warm salsa to warm jars and process in a water bath canner. Let the jars cool, test the seals, label and date the jars, and store the canned salsa in a cool, dark location.
Tomato Salsa Canning Recipe
Prepare your canning equipment
- Wash your jars and lids in warm, soapy water and rinse well.
- Place the jar rack into the water bath canner, set the clean jars in the canner, add water, and boil jars for 10 minutes to sterilize. Keep jars warm until they are ready to use.
- Warm your lids in a small pot of water over low heat until you are ready to can the salsa.
Make the salsa
- Combine the prepared ingredients in a large saucepot. Bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook the salsa for about 10 minutes.
Can the salsa
- Spread a kitchen towel on the counter. Use your jar lifter to lift the jars from the canner. Drain the water back into the canner, and line up the jars on the towel.
- Use your canning ladle and funnel to fill the canning jars with salsa, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.
- Wipe the rims of the jars. Use your magnetic lid lifter to lift lids out of the warm water, center lid on the jar, and screw on band until it is fingertip tight.
- Use your jar lifter to place the jars into the canner leaving space in between them.
- Once all the jars are in canner, adjust the water level so it is at least one inch above the jar tops. If you need to add water, use the hot water from the small pot your lids were in. Pour the water around the jars and not directly on them.
- Cover the canner and bring to boil over high heat. Once water boils vigorously, continue boiling the jars of salsa for 15 minutes at altitudes of less than 1,000 feet (Adjust processing time for your altitude if necessary: 0-1,000 feet = 15 minutes; 1,001–6,000 feet = 20 minutes; above 6,000 feet = 25 minutes.).
- When processing time is complete, turn off heat and allow the canner to cool down and settle for about 10 minutes.
- Spread a kitchen towel on the counter; remove the cover by tilting lid away from you so that steam does not burn your face. Use a jar lifter to lift the jars from canner and place on the towel.
- Allow the jars to cool for 12 to 24-hours. You should hear the satisfactory "ping" of the jar lids sealing.
- After 12 to 24-hours, check to be sure jar lids have sealed by pushing on the center of the lid. The lid should not pop up. If the lid flexes up and down, it did not seal. Refrigerate jar and use up within a week. Once the jar is open, refrigerate and use up within a week.
- Store sealed jars in a cool, dark location for up to a year. Yields 6 half pints, 3 pints.
This recipe was originally published September 17, 2017. It has been updated with more information and photos.
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Good planning is key to a successful vegetable garden
Whether you are new to growing your own food or have been growing a vegetable garden for years, you will benefit from some planning each year. You will find everything you need to organize and plan your vegetable garden in my PDF eBook, Grow a Good Life Guide to Planning Your Vegetable Garden.