Monday, August 2, 2010

Homemade Salsa

Homemade salsa is one of the great joys of summer!

You can make salsa to be enjoyed fresh, and you can also preserve your own salsa. Fresh salsa is particularly enjoyable - you can mix up your own salsa at home and keep it refrigerated for about a week or in the freezer for up to 2 months (

When you're making fresh salsa (not to be canned), you can use whatever recipe you'd like. Personally, I love fresh melon salsas. They make a great use of leftover melon. Just mix together melon, onion, cilantro, garlic, and a bit of lime juice, and you're ready for a snack!

If you've never canned your own salsa before, I highly recommend giving it a try as well.
  • You can have great-tasting salsa all year long, at an affordable price, too! If you make it year after year, you'll more than recover the cost of your materials. 
  • Homemade salsa is an appreciated gift, especially in the dead of winter, when fresh tomatoes have passed from memory.

Warning - 
Use Approved Canning Recipes & Instructions

It is very important to note that not just any recipe may be canned. Use a recipe found at the National Center for Home Food Preservation (approved by the USDA) or from a site like Ball.

Botulism, a type of food poisoning, is caused by a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. This bacteria grows quite happily in an oxygen-free environment... like jars of canned low-acid foods. To keep from getting sick, you must be sure to follow proper canning instructions and use laboratory-tested recipes.

Acidic foods (pH less than 4.6) can be preserved in a boiling-water-bath canner. Low acid foods (pH greater than 4.6) must be preserved in a pressure canner.

Tomatoes are on the border between high- and low-acid content.

Vinegar or lemon juice is added to salsa recipes to increase the acidity, allowing the salsa to be canned with a boiling-water canner. But you must have the right balance of high- and low-acid foods and vinegar/juice. This is why you should use an approved recipe.

One more time, for good measure: Use an approved, tested recipe. Grandma's salsa recipe is great - but enjoy that one fresh, then freeze leftovers.


In addition to the standard kitchen items you'll use in making the salsa (knives, cutting boards, an 8-quart pot to cook the salsa in, a large spoon, etc.), you'll need these canning items:
Check yard sales and your local craigslist - I saw multiple canners listed for $10. You should also ask around - I happened to mention to my mother that I wanted to start canning, and she found materials in her attic for me.

For step-by-step canning instructions, check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Fresh Ingredients

Roma tomatoes (also known as paste tomatoes) work best for canning. As you can see in the photo, the roma tomatoes (on the left) have less seeds and liquid inside than the regular slicing tomatoes (on the right). Ask around - you may be able to buy them in bulk from a local farmer - - or get some from a friend with an over-active garden!

For all your ingredients, choose items in good condition - they don't have to be pretty, though! They can be misshapen, just not damaged. They should be firm and ripe, free of bad spots and mold.

Check out your local farmers market for a variety of peppers!  I used mostly Anaheim and Poblano, with a couple jalapenos and banana peppers, too.

Be sure to use gloves when handling hot peppers.

Roasting the peppers adds great flavor to the salsa. Just put them on the grill or under the broiler, then peel the peppers and remove the seeds and stems.

Great Fresh Salsa Recipes

Safe Canned Salsa Recipes

1 comment:

Kyle Jaracz said...

Hello! Great post on canning salsa! I work at Minnetrista as a graphic designer ( and we will be hosting a class on how to make salsa. As such, I am hoping to get permission from you to use your stacked ball jar image for use in a newspaper ad? Please let me know if it's alright! You can contact me directly at

Many thanks!