Thursday, August 27, 2009

Home Canned Salsa: A How To Guide

I've been away from my blog longer than usual for the last week. This is I've been doing...

No, not just eating chips and salsa. Canning it! (Just the salsa, not the chips, of course) My favorite salsa is still the brand that I ate growing up: "Mom's". I'm not sure where my mom got the recipe, but it's flat out delicious. When I pop open a jar of this salsa in the middle of the winter, one bite magically sends me back to August with the garden fresh taste of summer. This is worlds better than any store-bought salsa from a jar that I've tried! It's a favorite among my friends and family too. I often pour a jar into a bowl and set out a bag of chips when entertaining guests. Super easy appetizer!

When people hear that I'm canning (or as a friend recently pointed out, "jarring") salsa, the requests start coming in. "Oooh! Save a pint for me!" I almost need to keep it a secret. Last year I only put up one batch and it was gone in less than 2 months. This year I wanted enough to last through the winter, so I put up 4 times as much. I don't purchase the veggies for the salsa, they're all straight from the garden. Since I don't have a garden this year, I went to where the veggies grandma's house. Another bonus, Grandma has a canning kitchen in her basement, completely stocked for all of my food preservation needs. It's so much easier to execute home canning projects when you've got the right equipment.

The main ingredient in traditional salsa is tomato. So that's where I'll begin. Wash, remove "bad" spots, and chop a gallon of tomatoes.

Wearing gloves, I diced the hot peppers. This year I used a variety of hot peppers including Poblana, Seranno, and Jalapeno. Three batches of the salsa fell somewhere between a mild and medium on the heat scale. Then I made one batch really hot. The kind of hot that makes your lips burn after you've finished eating. If you're not a fan of spicy salsa, keep the heat down by removing the seeds before chopping and (obviously) don't add as many peppers. Last year I think I only added two to three jalapenos per batch and it just wasn't enough.

Now for the rest of the veggies: 2-3 chopped onions, 2-3 green peppers (or red or yellow), 1-2 tablespoons minced garlic. I used about 1 small garlic bulb per recipe.

Add the chopped tomatoes.

And salt, vinegar, and ketchup. That's right, ketchup. Weird, I know. My sister watched me measuring ketchup into the mix and said, "You know there are already tomatoes in there, right?" Yeah, I know. But I also know how awesome the finished salsa tastes, so I don't question the ketchup. I just follow the recipe and enjoy the finished product.

Stir it all up and cook for 30-40 minutes.

Place a canning funnel in the top of a clean pint sized jar. If you don't have a canning funnel, purchase one! It makes the filling process so much easier, faster, and less messy.

Fill each jar to the top line.

Wipe the top of the jar to clear away any spilled salsa and top with a heated lid. Here's where a canning lid lifter comes in handy. It's another canning equipment essential in my book. It's got a little magnet on the end to grab each canning lid. This way, you avoid burning your fingers in the heating water. A fork will work to lift the lids too, but a the lifter is so much easier! Once you've placed the lid on top of your jar, tightly screw on the canning ring. Place each jar into the heated water in a water bath canner. Last year, I canned salsa in my own kitchen so I used my largest stock pot in place of a canner. The canner is easier because it's larger and you can fit more jars. Also it has a rack on the bottom to keep the jars from jiggling around when the water boils. Make sure that the jars are covered with one inch of water. Bring the water to a boil and process the salsa for 25 minutes in the boiling water. Because tomatoes are high in acid, the water bath method is completely acceptable. If you keep the water boiling for the recommended time, the jars will seal and the high temps will kill any bacteria, especially the bacteria that causes botulism. Different foods process for different times. I consult my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook to find out processing times on water bath canning, however a variety of sources are available. In my family, canning is a way of life, so I haven't given much thought to the details, why's, and what if's of water bath canning. I have pictures of myself canning with my mom and grandma before I could walk! I remember a time, "way back when", that I did read up on food preservation in 4-H manuals, but most of my knowledge is from hands on experience. However, if you're just getting your feet wet with home canning, check out this link for more information.

When the processing time is up, remove the jars using a canning jar lifter, to a towel placed on a flat surface.

Here are some jars cooling on the counter. They will seal as they cool. Worried about whether or not the jars have really sealed? Here are three ways to tell if the finished product is safe for your pantry shelf:
•Hear the seal - Hear the "plink" as lid snaps down while jar is cooling, or tap lid with spoon when jar is cold. A clear ringing sound means a seal.
•Observe the seal - If the lid is curved down, the jar is sealed.
•Press the seal - After the jars have cooled, press the center of the lid. If it is down and will not move, the jar is sealed.

Now, remove ring bands from jar and store in a cool, dark, dry place. Ring bands free of rust may be reused. Never reuse lids for canning purposes. They won't seal. Now there's only one step remaining: when the craving for salsa strikes...Enjoy!

My husband and I popped open the first jar of salsa for a taste test last night. We ate the whole jar! I picked up the bowl and drank the last of it from the bottom. Very attractive, I'm sure. It's fabulous just as it is, but if you want to acheive that extra-fresh, salsa flavor, chop a little red onion and cilantro and toss them in just before serving.

Home Canned Salsa

Yield: approximately 10 pint


10 pint sized canning jars (wide or narrow mouth)
10 canning lids
10 canning rings
water bath canner or large stock pot
canning funnel
canning lid lifter
canning jar lifter
kitchen towels for cooling


1 gallon diced tomatoes
2-5 jalapeno, poblano, serrano, or other hot pepper of choice, diced
2-3 onions, chopped
2-3 green peppers, seeded and chopped
1-2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 jar diced green chilies
2-4 tablespoons of salt, to taste
1/2 cup vinegar
11 oz. bottle of ketchup

Combine ingredients in a large cooking pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Heat water in a small saucepan. Drop in canning lids and heat as instructed on package. Ladle the salsa into jars. Wipe top clean. Top jars with lids and tightly screw on canning rings. Place jars into hot water in a water bath canner or large stock pot. Jars should be covered by 1" water. Bring water in canner to a boil. Cover and process for 25 minutes. Remove jars to a flat surface to cool for 24 hours. Check seal before storing in a cool, dark, and dry place.


Heather S-G said...

I am the same way...could go through a jar of homemade EASY! Great looks absolutely amazing! :D

Reeni said...

My mouth is watering like mad! I bet this is over the top delicious. You should sell it - you'd be rich!

Katy ~ said...

Oh boy, oh boy does that look fabulous. I'll take a gallon please!

Katie@ThisCrazyLife said...

Ooo I got my jar, thanks a bunch!

Dr. Rebecca Knight said...

When you say diced tomatoes do you mean peeled, cored, seeds removed or do you remove bad stuff and chop away. It's the first step that takes me forever if I have to plunge them in hot water then ice water then.... that's not here so I hope to omit that step.

David and Leah said...

I have the same question: do you peel the tomatoes at all? And another question: How much is a "jar" of green chiles? Usually I buy the little 4 oz. cans. I actually grew a TON of Anaheim peppers this year and was wondering if I could sub some of those for the green chiles. (I usually use a recipe that calls for Anaheim peppers, but I decided to look for something new this year after I grew all those peppers ;) Hope to can some salsa in the next couple of days!

Unknown said...

Thank you for the recipe and sharing your rich heritage! For our family, pint size will not cover the household full of hungry teenagers. If I make the quart size, how should I modify the water bath timeframe?

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