This past weekend, I took my first shot at canning salsa. There is just something about it that I’ve always admired. It’s very pioneer’esque. And I would imagine it’s a great way to save money if you are growing your own goods in the garden. Man, is it a lot of work! But totally worth it!
There are several things I would have done differently, knowing what I know now. One thing right off the bat! … Get a canning stock pot! Trust me, just get one.
The rack alone and then the width and depth of the canning stock pot would immensely help with saving time, by being able to sterilize more jars at one time. I used my 12 quart stock pot and could only sterilize 6 pint sized jars at a time. It would have been nice to be using my 12 quart stock pot for making the salsa, while my jars were being sterilized. Your other option would be to use several different pots at a time. Making sure ahead of time that the pots you plan to use are deep enough and wide enough to accommodate the size jar you choose to use.
Primary goal = To be sterilizing while reducing your salsa.
Your lids and lid rings can be sterilized together in one pot. Bring the water to a slow rolling boil and allow rings and lids to simmer for 10 minutes*. Then place your rings and lids out to dry, on some dry clean towels on a flat surface.
Your jars should be sterilized in a similar manner. Make sure they are mouth up and there is approximately one inch of water above the jars. Again, bring your water to a slow rolling boil and allow your jars to simmer for 10 minutes*. Remove your jars from the water with a jar lifter (pictured further down in this post) and empty them entirely of all hot water. On some dry clean towels on a flat surface, place your jars mouth down to dry.
*If you are lucky enough to live way up in the mountains, you need to change the amount of time you boil your lids, rings and jars. For every additional 1,000 feet of elevation, add 1 minute.
Blanching your Tomatoes:
Preparing your tomatoes is super easy! And it’s called blanching. Never heard of it? Neither had I before this.
For my recipe, you’re going to need about 8 cups of peeled and gutted tomatoes.
Fill a large pot with water and set it on the burner with your heat at about medium. Bring to a very slow rolling boil (just seeing the bubbles start to rise from the bottom of the pot is hot enough). Wash the tomatoes removing any dirt and remaining stems. With a really sharp knife, cut shallow “X’s” on opposing sides of each tomato. Taking 4-5 tomatoes at a time, place them in the hot water for about 30-60 seconds. You should start to see the marked “X’s” peel away from the tomato. Then using a slotted spoon, pluck each tomato out and place them in a dry bowl or on a dry surface.
Once they are cool enough to handle, you should be able to remove the skin with ease. If you find some aren’t easy to peel, you can place them back in the hot water for an additional 30 seconds until more of the tomato skin starts to peel away.
Cut the tops of the tomatoes off (where the stem once was) and then in half. Then start to remove the seeds and guts.
*You can skip this last step if you’d like to keep the juices and seeds in your salsa, but I personally don’t care for them.
**Some people like to set the guts and seeds aside and use it for other recipes (tomato sauce, marinara, bloody mary mix, etc). I have yet to try this myself.
Prep Time: 30 Minutes (approx) Cook Time: 30 Minutes (approx) Servings: 10 Sixteen Ounce Jars
*Approximate times are given due to every kitchen being set up a little differently and whether or not you have a canning stock pot, multiple burners, etc.
- 8 Cups Tomatoes, prepared
- 4 Cups White Onion, chopped (approx 2 1/2 onions)
- 4 Cups Bell Peppers, chopped (any color you’d like, approx 4 peppers)
- 7 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 Cups Tomato Sauce
- 10 oz Tomato Paste
- 1/3 Cup Sugar
- 2 tsp Black Pepper
- 2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 5 Hot Peppers (any color or level of heat you’d like)
- 2 Tbsp Lime Juice
*I ended up straining some of the juice from my guts and seeds in to my salsa because I wanted it to be more liquidy. This can be negated at your discretion.
Once all of your ingredients are chopped up, throw everything in a large pot and turn your burner on medium heat and just continue to stir while the tomatoes break down and everything cooks together! You’ll let all this stuff simmer for about 10-20 minutes.
Processing the Salsa:
Once your salsa is ready it’s time to fill your jars! Make sure to leave about 1/2 – 1″ of space from the top. Then you’ll want to remove any air bubbles. Use any type of non-metallic utensil (I used a small spatula) and run it around the edges of the jar, smashing the salsa against the sides of the jar, working your way from the bottom all the way to the top. Then, using a clean damp cloth, wipe the edges of your jar clean. (This will help make a good seal) Next center your lid on top and then the jar band to follow. Screw the band on until they are finger-tip tight, stopping before you have to exert any force.\
Now take your closed jars full of salsa and place them back in the pot or canning stock pot you used to sterilize the jars, with the same or fresh, boiling water. Leave jars to sit in boiling water for approximately 15 minutes.
*And like before, if you’re lucky enough to live in the mountains, you need to change the amount of time you process your jars. For every additional 3,000 feet of elevation, add 5 minutes.
Remove your jars from the boiling water, using your handy jar lifter. And place them on dry surface. I laid some towel down to wick up the water.
**I strongly suggest you get one of these! They’re less than $3 at Wal-Mart and absolutely worth it! You don’t want to be dropping your delicious salsa in a hot glass jar on to the floor or worse yet, back in to the pot of boiling water. Trust me.**
Now you wait to hear the oh so magical sound … the sound of your success! You know the sound a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce makes when you open it for the first time? It’s the same sound, like a “ping”! That’s your jars indicating they are officially pressure sealed. But don’t mess with the jars or get too excited and open them for at least 24 hours!
CONGRATS! You just canned salsa for the first time!! Do you feel like you could do just about anything this world throws at you now!? Go ahead, celebrate, snap a picture, post it on Instagram, text your friends and relish in your success! It’s exciting stuff!
If you made any modifications or found something to be easier or too hard to do. I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment, send me a message, whatever your heart desires! But most of all, enjoy your salsa!