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Canning Homemade Tomato Salsa Recipes

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Making and Canning Homemade Salsa

You only have to look as far as your supermarket shelves to determine which types of salsas are safe to can at home. Fresh, crunchy salsas are found in the deli or refrigerated section. Canned salsas are usually found in the chips section and are professionally canned using the hot pack method.

Tomato salsas are a blend of tomatoes, which are high in acid and peppers and onions, which are low in acid. The peppers and onions reduce the acidity of the salsa which requires either adding more high acid liquid (vinegar or bottled lemon juice) to permit them to be waterbath canned or processing them in a pressure canner. See article on Difference between Water Bath and Pressure Canning. The waterbath canned salsas do reduce the cooking and processing time, but the additional vinegar or bottled lemon juice needs to be drained off before serving. The result will never be the same as the fresh and crunchy summertime salsas that we all adore. The pressure canner method results in what is essentially a tomato sauce.

We are publishing the salsa recipes provided by the USDA and recommend they be tested using the one pint recipes, processing them fully, letting them sit for two to three days and then consuming to ensure you are happy with the result before making a bigger batch. We are publishing their extensive advice on canning salsas at the end of this article.

Regardless of the recipe, we recommend testing all salsas that are to be water bath canned with a pH meter to ensure a pH of 4.6 or below before canning because there can be some variances in acidity of the tomatoes. Remember to remove the batteries from a pH meter before storing after the canning season.

As an alternative, we have rethought the canning of salsas and found the best result is to can a tomato salsa base, using plum or paste tomatoes, and then adding freshly chopped onions or scallions, chili or jalapeño peppers and/or herbs after opening. Although, this isn't a perfect alternative to what you enjoy serving in the summertime, we believe it's the best and safest solution to try to resemble a fresh and crunchy salsa for serving in the wintertime.


Salsa Recipes USDA Recipes

Crunchy Tomato Salsa


Tomato Salsa Base

Roasted Tomato Salsa Base



Green Tomato Salsa

Red Tomato Salsa

Tomatillo Salsa

Mild Chili Pepper Sauce

Medium Chili Pepper Sauce

Hot Chili Pepper Sauce

Fiery Hot Chili Pepper Sauce

Tabasco Chili Pepper Sauce


Making and Canning Homemade BBQ Sauce video.

Video 3: Home Canning Tomatoes, Home Canning Tomato Sauce,Home Canning Whole Tomatoes, Home Canning Crushed Tomatoes, Home Canning Salsa

This third video will teach you how to use a waterbath canner for home canning tomatoes in several ways; home canning whole tomatoes, home canning diced tomatoes, home canning tomato sauces and home canning salsa.

From the United States Department of Agriculture's Complete Guide to Home Canning.


The salsas in this Guide, as well as most salsas, are mixtures of low-acid foods, such as onions and peppers, with acid foods, such as tomatoes. It is important that ingredients be carefully measured and that the salsas be made as described to be processed safely in a boiling water canner.


The acid ingredients help preserve canned salsas. You must add the acid to these salsas processed in a boiling water canner because the natural acidity of the mixture without it may not be high enough. The acids are usually commercially bottled lemon juice or vinegar so the acidity level will be standardized. Use only vinegar that is at least 5% acidity; do not use homemade vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon juice because the acidity can vary and will be unknown.
The amounts of vinegar or lemon juice in these recipes cannot be reduced for safe boiling water canning. Sugar can be used to offset the tartness of the acid. An equal amount of bottled lemon juice may be substituted for vinegar in recipes, but do not substitute vinegar for lemon juice. This substitution will result in a less acid and potentially unsafe canned salsa.


The type of tomato will affect the consistency of salsa. Paste tomatoes, such as Roma, have more, and usually firmer, flesh than slicing tomatoes. They will produce thicker salsas than large slicing tomatoes which usually yield a thinner, more watery salsa.
Canning is not a way to use overripe or spoiling tomatoes. Use only high quality, diseasefree, preferably vine-ripened, firm tomatoes for canning salsa or any other tomato product.
Do not use tomatoes from dead or frost-killed vines. Poor quality or overripe tomatoes will yield a thin salsa and one that may spoil. Green tomatoes or tomatillos may be used for ripe
tomatoes in these recipes, but the flavor of the recipe will change.
When recipes call for peeled tomatoes, remove the skin by dipping washed tomatoes into boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until skins split. Dip immediately into cold water, then
slip skins off and core the tomato.


Tomatillos are also known as Mexican husk tomatoes. The dry outer husk must be removed, but they do not need to be peeled or have the seeds removed. They will need to be washed well after the husk is removed.


Peppers range from mild to scorching in taste. It is this “heat” factor that makes many salsa fans want to experiment with recipes. Use only high quality peppers, unblemished and free of decay. You  may substitute one type of pepper for another, including bell peppers (mild) for some or all of the chiles. Canned chiles may be used in place of fresh. However, do not increase the total amount (pounds or cups) of peppers in any recipe. Do not substitute the same number of whole peppers of a large size for the number of peppers of a smaller size (for example, do not use 6 bell  peppers or long chiles in place of 6 jalapeños or serranos). This will result in changing the final acidity of the mixture and potentially unsafe canned salsa.

Milder varieties of peppers include Anaheim, Ancho, College, Colorado and Hungarian Yellow Wax. When the recipe calls for “long green chiles” choose a mild pepper. Jalapeño is a very popular hot pepper. Other hot varieties include Cayenne, Habanero, Serrano and Tabasco. Do not touch your face, particularly the area around your eyes, when you are handling or cutting hot chiles. Caution: Wear plastic or rubber gloves and do not touch your face while handling or cutting hot peppers. If you do not wear gloves, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face or eyes.

Usually when peppers are finely chopped in a salsa, they do not need to be peeled. However, many recipes say to peel the recipes, and the skin of long green chiles in particular may be tough after  canning. If you choose to peel chiles, or procedures with a recipe direct you to peel the peppers, use the following.

Peeling peppers: Wash and dry peppers; slit each pepper along the side to allow steam to escape. Blister skins using one of these two methods :

Oven or broiler method to blister skins – Place peppers in a hot oven (400°F) or under a broiler for 6 to 8 minutes until skins blister.

Range-top method to blister skins – Cover hot burner (either gas or electric) with heavy wire mesh. Place peppers on burner for several minutes until skins blister.

To peel, after blistering skins, place peppers in a pan and cover with a damp cloth. (This will make peeling the peppers easier.) Cool several minutes; peel off skins. Discard seeds and chop.


Spices and herbs add unique flavoring to salsas. The amounts of dried spices and herbs in the following recipes (black pepper, salt, dried oregano leaves, and ground cumin) may be altered or left out. For a stronger cilantro flavor in recipes that list cilantro, it is best to add fresh cilantro just before serving instead of adding more before canning.


Red, yellow or white onions may be substituted for each other. Do not increase the total amount of onions in any recipe.

Tomatoes and Tomato Products

IMPORTANT: You may change the amount of spices, if desired. Do not can salsas that do not follow these or other research tested recipes. (They may be frozen or stored in the refrigerator.)


IMPORTANT: Follow the directions carefully for each recipe. Use the amounts of each vegetable (peppers, onions, tomatoes, tomatillos, etc.) listed in the recipe. If the procedures call for chopped tomatoes, use the whole tomato after peeling and coring. Do not drain the tomato, or remove all the liquid and juices. Add the amount of vinegar or lemon juice as listed. The only changes you can safely make in these salsa recipes are to substitute bottled lemon juice for vinegar and to change the amount of dried spices and herbs. Do not alter the proportions of vegetables to acid and tomatoes because it might make the salsa unsafe. Do not thicken salsas with flour, cornstarch or other starches before canning. If a thicker salsa is desired, you can pour off some of the liquid or add these thickening ingredients after opening.

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