Homemade Salsa and Canning Tips

It’s canning time again! A good friend from church passed along two big bags of tomatoes, so this morning I lugged my canning supplies down from attic storage and like a kid on Christmas morning, I dug into it. Exciting to find extra boxes of canning flats (lids) which means I can swing that many more pints or quarts than I originally thought!

The only disappointment I experience is slight regret that we haven’t been able to replace the dishwasher that quit on me…however long ago that was (last summer?). Dishwashers are so good for disinfecting jars and rings and keeping your jars on the hot side, which is a requirement when filling with hot salsa. But then, I’m always bragging about how much I love the simple, old-fashioned life, so here’s my chance to put my words into practice!

Nothing like canning to heat up a kitchen! Every burner is busy on my stove…one canner full of cold water and clean jars that can heat up together (ta-da: hot jars ready to fill)…one saucepan with lids and rings keeping hot…one kettle with boiling water to dip tomatoes in before their plunge into chilled water (skin just slips off)…and another kettle handy into which I’ll pour the hot water from the canning jars once I’m ready to exchange their H2O for salsa!

I’d be remiss here if I didn’t recommend the Ball Blue Book Guide to Home Canning, Freezing and Dehydration. Ever want to make Kiwi Jam? Pickled Okra? Peach Butter? This book is a homemaker’s dream. I’d think every woman should have a copy, not knowing what the future holds for our country. I’m not going Y2K on you, just advocating preparedness.

Never canned before? Find a Farm and Ranch Supply store and browse that aisle. You’ll see many tools of the trade. Besides canners, there are jar lifters (a must), wide-mouthed funnels (another must) and magnetic lid/ring lifters (not so necessary, I use a fork and quick fingers to lift mine from the hot saucepan). If you’d rather, just browse canning tools and supplies online…you’ll get hooked, I promise!

The following salsa recipe was one of my top hits last year, though it doesn’t have the hundreds of comments that the Amish Friendship Bread has to show for its popularity. I thought I’d repost it here today. My dh and I think it tastes a lot like the salsa at Carlos O’ Kelly’s, a popular Mexican restaurant here in the midwest.

Mary’s Mild Salsa–makes 10 pints

22 tomatoes (I put in twice as many if they’re on the small-to-medium side)
4 bell peppers, chopped fine
3 onions, chopped fine
1 cup vinegar
3/4-1 cup jalepeno peppers, chopped fine
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup salt
1 cup (12 oz) tomato paste (I omit this)
Cilantro to taste
3 cloves garlic minced

After getting skin off tomatoes (dip in boiling water 20 seconds, then into cold–skin falls off), put 2/3 of them in blender and blend. Chop the rest of them (if you have a good blender you can blend all veggies together, we like it chunky) and put all ingredients into pot, bring to a boil and then simmer for 25 minutes. Use a ladle and funnel to fill hot jars with salsa, leaving 1 inch headspace. Slip a plastic knife or other non-metal straight object along sides of jar to release any bubbles. Wipe jar rim with clean washcloth for a good seal. Apply lid and ring and put jar into canner. It will be fine as you continue filling pints/quarts till canner is full. Water bathe pints for 15 minutes and quarts for 20.

Some people like to buy salsa “mix” at Wal Mart. I did this one year, and though the label said “mild” it wasn’t! That was a huge waste of my time and tomatoes, not nearly as good as homemade with all the fresh veggie additions and I was the only one who could handle the “heat”. So be warned.

If you want pictures and another recipe, this site has great pictures.

Well, I’m off…

Just two things:

Don’t forget that the Carnival of Modesty deadline is this Friday, August 3rd! Follow this link to submit and join the fun!

Be on the look-out this week, I have a wonderful author interview to post from friend and fellow homeschooler, Amy Wallace. She graciously shared how she schedules everything in, and her favorite curriculums, all in all it’s a very encouraging and uplifting read! As is her book Ransomed Dreams. If you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for?

100 thoughts on “Homemade Salsa and Canning Tips”

  1. I canned some salsa today and I used half vinegar and half lemon juice both in the same recipe without knowing if is okay… is that safe to do?

  2. I was hoping to can salsa this year but am having trouble finding the kind of recipe I want that includes black beans & corn. Do you think I could add some fresh frozen corn kernels and a rinsed can of black beans and other wise ‘tweak’ this great recipe and it would still can ok..?
    Thanks for your help!

  3. Tami…I do know that you need the vinegar…oops! Your salsa would not be safe to consume according to what I’ve heard. :O( I’m so sorry!!

    Maria…that might be safe, but I’m not going out on a limb to say it is. You better ask an expert on that one. I know this recipe that I have posted on my blog is safe…when followed exactly, but beyond that, I have no help!

    DeRonda, I’ve never done that but it sounds delicious. Try looking in a Ball’s Blue Book of Canning and Preserving for a recipe like that. They are safety tested and reliable and have a ton of great canning recipes!

  4. i have your recipe down to a science but along with your set up i added a lrg. bowl with a strainer on top- i sqeeze all the tomatoes until most of the seeds come out and add a 6 oz can of paste. there is still plenty of juice still in the tomatoes as evidenced when processed. All that juice is saved and frozen and used later for soups, stews and sauce. As for heat i use 2 jalapeno and 2 anaheim and this is mild, 1 more of each is medium. When i make this its more like 8 quarts for me–its been a very good year for tomatoes.
    thank you so much for sharing such a good recipe, i’ve made 5 batches so far.

  5. Wow! Love this info, Elise! Thanks bunches for taking the time to share it here. Alas, this was not a great year for tomato plants in my neck of the country…I planted 40 tomato plants, and though my cherry and grape toms did well, my larger tomatoes did not. So we had a lot of little tomatoes to munch on and have in salads and a few for slicing. I am glad to have this info here b/c next year’s garden will be better…hopefully…and I’m definitely trying the strainer idea!


  6. Made your salsa last night… Wow what fun to hear the jars ping… It was my first time canning and my boyfriend and I had a blast.
    I added 2 Tablespoon Cumin and 3 Bunches of Cilantro to the recipe along with 6-8 banana peppers… and used all 3 colors of bell peppers. My salsa is a hit at work today and beautiful. Thank you for sharing your tips and receipe. Looking forward to making some pumpkin bread next! Dawn

  7. Salsa is soo good the only problem is it can cost quite a bit if you buy it regularly at your local grocery store. Thanks for providing this recipe for salsa, making your own is a great thing to do!

  8. You are so welcome! I keep checking my tomato plants, got some large green tomatoes…no color yet! Come on July! Love this time of year!!! :O)

  9. Just wanted to let you know this is the third year we are using your recipe for salsa! We absolutley LOVE it! I had one person tell me it was *so good makes my tounge stand up and slap my brain!* It is a wonderful addition to make for the canning season. Thank you so much for sharing your delightful recipe!

  10. Thank YOU so much for coming back to tell me! I love that line…brain-slapping good! ;O) My tomatoes are beginning to kick into gear here, so out comes my salsa recipe either today or tomorrow!

  11. Ooh, sorry! Next time, just add your jalapenos a couple at a time to the rest of the ingredients and taste test to see how spicy you want to go. It won’t ruin the recipe to cut way back on jalapenos. In fact, I only had two jalapenos when I was ready to can salsa this summer…and I got a very mild but delicious salsa. So my advice is just to play around with the right amount for your family. HTHs!

  12. made the salsa tonite left out the jalapenos ( can’t have anything spicy!) added cilantro and extra bell and banana peppers. It is wonderful, not spicy, more like pico

  13. I think a few you the above folks might want to read these canning safety guidelines before doing much canning of salsa, there are some acidity issues that keep it safe. For instance, you don’t want to change the amount of vinegar or lime juice, or reduce the number of peppers – substitute milder peppers instead. Check out this link: http://learningstore.uwex.edu/assets/pdfs/B3570.PDF

    Can’t wait to try your mild recipe! Salsa is usually always too hot for me!

  14. Thanks Melissa! Always want to promote safety in canning here, so this link is really helpful. Thankfully I’ve never had a problem, healthwise or spoilage wise, with our salsa and I play with it quite a bit. But God might have been graciously protecting me too! ;O) We absolutely love this salsa recipe! So glad it’s a good tomato year, in our area anyway!

  15. Mary!
    Thanks a lot ftom Russia!
    I made 9 galons (!!! :D) of your salsa for our family for the winter time. We have the organic vedgetabls’ time right now in July, and at this time we usualy canning and preserve some of them. Thank you for the reciepe.

  16. Hi there, Anna-from-Russia! Wow, so neat to hear from someone halfway around the world. 9 whopping gallons?!?! I’m impressed beyond measure. Way to go. That is a lot of work…seems like it takes heaps of tomatoes just to get a canner full. I’m canning tomatoes right now too…usually they aren’t ready till August here, but we’ve had such extremely hot temps, and a very early mild spring, so that all the veggies are really needing harvested about a month earlier than normal.

    Thanks for taking the time to let me know someone in Russia is getting some good out of the blog! ;O) Have a happy week!


  17. Quick question – can you distilled vinegar or should it be cider vinegar or does
    it matter? Thanks in advance for your advice!! Can’t wait to make my salsa!!!

  18. Hi DeAnn,
    Okay, I’m probably not qualified to answer this as far as “canning safety” goes, so you might want to research it more on the net…but I have used white distilled vinegar before in a pinch, and we’ve yet to get sick from ANY batches of salsa or anything else that I’ve canned in all the years we’ve been canning. I prefer to use the cider vinegar tho.

    HTHs, and good luck!

  19. You may sub lemon juice for vinegar but not the other way around, as lemon juice has a higher acidity than vinegar. 🙂

  20. Hello!! Thank you for the recipe it is wonderful right out of the pan… do we need to let the jars sit for a while before we eat it?

  21. Hello! I made your salsa recipe a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. I looked it up so I could make it again this year, and thought I would answer the question of replacing vinegar for lemon juice. From the book, “Putting Food By”(Greene, Hertzberg and Vaughan): “…add any one of three acid substances: powdered citric acid, OR bottled lemon juice OR distilled white vinegar (which you use TWICE AS MUCH of as lemon juice, because vinegar is much more volatile).”

    Thanks for the great recipe!

  22. Thanks Jennifer and Sarah for the great answers on the lemon juice question! I am glad to know this as well. :O)

    April, enjoy it as soon as you want to after it’s canned…you can even enjoy it fresh before canning it. By the way, one of my favorite fresh “salsa” recipes is, I guess, more of a relish, but we love it with chips…cut up one onion, one bell pepper, and one tomato and mix together with one tablespoon sugar. Yum! Of course we do it larger scale, more like 5 onions, 5 bell peppers, and 5 tomatoes…but it’s the ratio that matters. Hope you enjoy your homemade salsa!

  23. Used your recipe for the first time canning salsa but substituted lemon juice and twice the amount of hot peppers. WOW! was absolutely fantastic!

  24. DeRhonda – Maybe you could just can the salsa as the recipe is written since it would probably be unsafe to add the corn and beans. However, when you to to serve it, maybe you could add the corn and beans at that time. Just a thought.

  25. I used your recipe (also omitting tomato paste) and I’m getting rave reviews! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe online. It’s fantastic!

  26. This recipe has way too much vinegar for my taste. Maybe there is a vinegar that is not so strong that would be better? It drowned out the natural flavor of the tomatoes.

  27. I just have a question about the onions. I assume you mean White onions, rather than green or red. I have grown about 12 Walla Walla Onions this summer, but they vary tremendously in size. Some are larger than a soft ball, and some are about the size of a Roma Tomato. Which brings me to a second thought…..do you use 22 Roma tomatoes, or the larger sized tomatoes?
    I’m about to try your recipe for the first time, so any help would be appreciated!
    Thanks in advance.

  28. Hi Lindsey,
    I’m not sure about that…but I’d think most vinegars would be similar in strength. I know vinegar is integral to the safeness of canning tomatoes. I love this salsa recipe, haven’t noticed the vinegary-ness but I will admit that fresh salsa is my absolute favorite (no vinegar!!)–my biggest weakness in summer is to get equal parts tomatoes/onions/bell peppers from the garden and chop them up, add 1 TB sugar for every tomato, and boy, it’s so delicious!


  29. Hi Elisabeth,
    I’m sorry this is a late response…I’m just now catching up on the blog correspondence! I’ve used white or yellow onions in this, but not red or green. I’d think your Walla Walla onions would work great. :O) Typically, I use larger tomatoes and add the can of tomato paste in for thickener…I LOVE to use a combo of Romas and normal tomatoes, it helps to thicken it naturally. I don’t always have a good crop of Romas in the garden tho. If I were to use only Roma’s, I’d put in more of them to equal in size the amount of normal tomatoes I’d use. I used to omit the tomato paste, but the salsa was pretty runny. It’s perfect with tomato paste added. Not too thick, just right. Hope it turns out well for you!!


  30. If you want your salsa thicker, cook it longer for the water to boil off. Since scorching is an issue, I cook mine in the slow cooker with the lid off. i usually just do the veggies for a couple of hours, and then add the salt and vinegar. I only put sugar in less than an hour before I can it…I’ve left if for over night on low sometimes when I had really juicy tomatoes and super runny salsa This works good if you don’t have all day to work on this, so you can prep the veggies in the evening, and let it cook overnight, and then you can just do the processing in the morning. DO NOT put the sugar or vinegar in overnight, and process as short a time as is safe for your jar size.
    Myhouse REALLY smells like salsa from this, but that’s OK

  31. Wow, I am SO glad for this feedback, Sonya! I knew the longer you cooked it down, the thicker it would get, but it takes SO long. What a great idea to use the crockpot! I am definitely going to try this next summer with my tomatoes! Thank you for all the tips!

  32. I have to say, I am glad I found this recipe. I made 8 pints a couple weeks ago. It has been a hit around the house. I give it 5 stars. I’m starting on more this evening.

  33. Hi there,
    Just wondering how many cups aprox. 22 large tomatoes make? I harvested my tomatoes and have a wide variety of sizes and I have them mostly chopped already. I blanch my tomatoes as they ripen and store them in the freezer (I use about half frozen and half fresh, makes for 2 different textures). Thanks.

  34. Would it be safe to grill the vegetables over charcoal for a nice smoke flavored salsa or would cooking them like that do anything to change the acidity?

  35. Kayla, hope this isn’t too late to help you out. I’m guessing it’s right around 20 cups or thereabouts. What a blessing to have a good tomato harvest! Enjoy this salsa!

  36. Not too sure why this recipe doesn’t have the raves as your bread as you mentioned. It should!!! This salsa is amazing and I am on my second or third year making several batches!!! I just love it and so do my friends. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  37. Mary, would it change the acidity in this recipe if I left out the garlic and sugar? I don’t want to do anything to cause it to spoil.

  38. DeeBee, I’m sorry…you asked this in March and now it is June. Hopefully this answer will help in time for summer tomato projects! I’m not an expert, but the one thing I do know is that you must not alter the acids in the salsa recipe (lemon juice or vinegar, etc.) but I’m pretty sure leaving out the sugar and garlic will not affect the acidity/safety. However, to be safe, you could take a look at this article I found online about canning salsa safely! Hope this helps!

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