Canning Homemade Salsa | Savvy in the South
By Katie Frizzell
Food preservation is a rewarding job: you get to take all the fresh produce you have (whether bought, given to you, or grown yourself) and save it for later when the fresh food isn’t readily available. While preserving food yourself can be time consuming and labor intensive, it is actually pretty fun and can give you a sense of pride.
For this post and video series, I focused on canning homemade salsa using the water bath method. First things first, we had to get the produce. To do so, I decided to take a field trip out to our local u-pick farm at Triple M Farms in Milo, AR (Ashley County). There, the produce was vine ripe, fresh, and ready to be picked by early birds there to beat the summer heat. We ended up with about 8lbs of Roma tomatoes and about 4lbs of jalapeno peppers (please note that I overestimated how much we would need - we had a ton left over!) The recipe I used also calls for onions and bell peppers, which I picked up at my local grocery store. Not only was this outing fun and educational for me, I felt good knowing I supported two local businesses.
Some important things to note about the produce you use: first, this recipe calls for a “paste” tomato, such as the Roma, because they are denser and less juicy and are good for things like salsa. We do have a recipe using slicing tomatoes, but it is different, and the two types of tomatoes should not be interchanged. Also, be sure to pick all produce at peak ripeness (not underripe and not overripe) and make sure there are no bruises or blemishes. When canning, you only want to use the highest quality ingredients to ensure your canned products are safe to consume. Use a mixture of mild and spicy peppers to make it as mild or spicy as you would like. The recipe calls for chili peppers which are mild, but you can use other types of mild peppers in its place, just make sure the total weight is the same. For example, if it says 6 c of chilis you need to use 6 c of another pepper. You can use whatever kind of spicy pepper you would like, such as serrano or jalapeno. When I made this, I used 4 c green bell peppers and 2 c jalapeno peppers totaling 6 cups of peppers.
Some notes about safety: Wear plastic or rubber gloves and do not touch your face while handling or cutting hot peppers. After removing gloves and cleaning work area where peppers were cut, make sure to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water. You may also consider wearing protective eyewear. Canning is a serious business because it can become dangerous if you do not follow the directions exactly. You must use an approved Extension recipe, sanitize EVERYTHING, and follow the recipe and directions exactly in order to stay safe.
- Water bath canner with rack
- Ladle, Funnel, Headspace measurer/Air bubble remover, Jar grabber, Magnetic lid grabber
- Hot pads and oven mits, Dish towels and washcloths
- Knives, various sizes, Cutting boards, Dinner spoon
- Stock pot, Food processor(optional), colander, bowls
- Measuring cups/spoons, liquid measuring cup, food scale
Recipe for Chile Salsa II from So Easy to Preserve by University of Georgia Extension
(6 – 8 pint jars)
- 10 c peeled, cored, chopped tomatoes
- 6 c seeded, chopped chili peppers*
- 4 c chopped onion
- 1 c vinegar (5%)
- 3 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
Directions (Hot Pack)
- Peel, seed, and prepare peppers as needed.**
- Peel, wash, and dice onions.
- Wash tomatoes and using a knife, make a small, shallow X on the bottom of each tomato. Dip the tomatoes in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until skins start to split. Immediately dip them in ice, cold water. The skins should fall off or easily peel off, then remove the cores.
- Coarsely chop tomatoes (can be done with a food processor) and combine them with chopped peppers, onions and remaining ingredients in a large stock pot.
- Heat to boiling; then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
- Fill hot salsa into hot jars (can be made hot by keeping them in the boiling water bath canner until ready to use), leaving ½ inch headspace.
- Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with dampened clean paper towel. Put the lids on and then the rings, tight but not too tight.
- Process pint jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes
* Use a mixture of mild and spicy peppers to make it as mild or spicy as you would like. The recipe calls for chili peppers which are mild, but you can use other types of mild peppers in its place, just make sure the total weight is the same. For example, if it says 4 c of chilis you need to use 4c of another pepper. You can use whatever kind of spicy pepper you would like such as serrano or jalapeno. When I made this, I used 4 c green bell peppers and 2 c jalapeno peppers.
**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.
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This salsa recipe is delicious and is a great way to preserve the harvest this gardening season. Home canned products also make great gifts, and since they keep for so long, stuff you make now can even be given as holiday gifts this winter! Food preservation whether water bath canning, pressure cooker canning, freezing, or drying, I hope you will give food preservation a try because it is beneficial for you and your family.
As always, stay savvy,
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.