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Home Canned Salsa Recipe + 10 Tips for Canning Salsa Safely

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This home canned salsa recipe rates an “Awesome!” from friends and family alike. To make it a salsa recipe for canning, we use more tomatoes, plus added vinegar to lower the pH. (More on Canning Salsa Safely at the end of the post.)

home canned salsa in mason jars

The taste and texture of this salsa recipe is similar to a popular commercial brand, but we like ours better. You can taste the difference in canning salsa with your fresh local produce at the peak of ripeness.

Quality Ingredients Count

Organic spices are great if you can get them. You might be able to bulk organic spices at a local grocery store, or you can buy them online.

Cilantro gives you a more authentic flavor, but my parsley grows much better than my cilantro. I’m also one of the people who think cilantro tastes like soap, so I usually use parsley.

Use any type of sweet peppers – red, yellow, green, orange, banana – just don’t exceed one cup chopped per batch. We used to use only one hot pepper when the kids were younger, now we use four. Meaty paste tomatoes are best, but slicing tomatoes will do in a pinch.

Salsa Recipe for Canning

Ingredients

  • 20-22 pounds of tomatoes
  • 3 cups onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro or parsley, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup celery, finely diced
  • 1 cup assorted mild peppers, finely chopped
  • 1 – 4 hot peppers, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano leaf  Buy oregano online.
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional, but recommended) Buy cumin online.
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (optional, for more heat)
  • 1 cup 5% apple cider vinegar
  • 3 6-ounce cans tomato paste (optional, for thicker salsa)
  • ¼ cup Clear Gel (optional, for thicker salsa)  Buy Clear Gel online.

Directions – Prepping the Tomatoes

Blanch and skin the tomatoes. To blanch tomatoes, place them in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds, until the skins start to split.

As soon as the skins start splitting, remove the tomatoes and place them in a cold water/ice water bath. This stops the cooking so they don’t get mushy, and makes them cool enough to handle for peeling. Slip off skins.

Skinning tomatoes for homemade salsa
A photo from several years ago, with my boys skinning tomatoes.

If you are working alone, put the tomatoes to drain in a colander while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. In our kitchen, the boys chop tomatoes while I prep the rest of the ingredients.

boys chopping tomatoes for homemade salsa
The boys, chopping tomatoes then and now.

To finish the tomato prep, dice the tomatoes into small chunks and place in colander to drain off excess juice. We prefer to scrape out most of the seeds and squeeze out excess juice for a thicker salsa. If desired, juice can be strained and consumed, or canned separately for later use.

salsa ingredients

Prepping the Rest of the Salsa Ingredients

Finely chop onions, garlic, cilantro (parsley), sweet and hot peppers.

Caution: Use gloves when handling and chopping hot peppers. I leave the hot peppers until last to minimize risk of spreading the hot pepper juice around my work area.

Prepare canning jars, two piece canning lids and water bath canner. Your canner will need time to heat up for processing.

Place all salsa ingredients except vinegar and Clear Gel in a large stockpot. Dissolve Clear Gel (if desired) in vinegar, add vinegar mix to stockpot. Mix salsa thoroughly.

close up of homemade salsa

Heat the salsa to a gentle simmer. There is no need to cook it; you just want to get hot enough for canning.

homemade salsa

Canning the Salsa

Fill the jars with salsa, allowing 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rims for any spills. Seat the lids and hand-tighten the rings around them.

I run my jars through the dishwasher, so they're done and warm when I’m ready to fill jars.

Never fill cold jars with hot salsa! The difference in temperatures may cause the glass to break.

For water bath canning salsa: Place the jars in the pre-heated canner. Make sure they are covered with at least 1 inch of water.

Bring to a boil and start the timer. Process the jars in a boiling-water bath for 15 minutes for 8 oz and pints and 20 minutes for quarts.

When processing time is done, turn off heat, remove lid and wait 5 minutes to remove jars.

Remove jars from canner. Place 1″ apart on a kitchen towel on the counter top. Let the jars sit to cool completely (12 to 24 hours).

Remove rings and check seals. (Center of lid will not flex if properly sealed.)

Wipe any drips, label and date and store in a cool, dry location out of direct sunlight. Best used within one year.

Makes around 10-12 pints.

pint mason jars filled with salsa

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Salsa Recipe for Canning

This home canned salsa recipe rates an “Awesome” from friends and family alike. Hot or mild – you choose how spicy you like it.

  • Author: Laurie Neverman
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 10 pints 1x
  • Category: Condiment
  • Method: Canning

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2022 pounds of tomatoes
  • 3 cups onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro or parsley, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup celery, finely diced
  • 1 cup assorted mild peppers, finely chopped
  • 14 hot peppers, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano leaf
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
  • 1 cup 5% apple cider vinegar
  • 3 6-ounce cans tomato paste (optional)
  • ¼ cup Clear Gel (optional)

Instructions

  1. Blanch and skin the tomatoes.
  2. To blanch tomatoes, place them in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds, until the skins start to split. As soon as the skins start splitting, remove the tomatoes and place them in a cold water/ice water bath. This stops the cooking so they don’t get mushy, and makes them cool enough to handle for peeling. Slip off skins.
  3. If you are working alone, put the tomatoes to drain in a colander while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. In our kitchen, the boys chop tomatoes while I prep the rest of the ingredients.
  4. To finish the tomato prep, dice the tomatoes into small chunks and place in colander to drain off excess juice. We prefer to scrape out most of the seeds and squeeze out excess juice for a thicker salsa.
  5. Finely chop onions, garlic, cilantro (parsley), sweet and hot peppers.
  6. Caution: Use gloves when handling and chopping hot peppers. I leave the hot peppers until last to minimize risk of spreading the hot pepper juice around my work area.
  7. Prepare canning jars, two piece canning lids and water bath canner.
  8. Place all salsa ingredients except vinegar and Clear Gel in a large stockpot. Dissolve Clear Gel (if desired) in vinegar, add vinegar mix to stockpot. Mix salsa thoroughly.
  9. Heat the salsa to a gentle simmer. There is no need to cook it; you just want to get hot enough for canning.
  10. Fill the jars with salsa, allowing 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rims for any spills. Seat the lids and hand-tighten the rings around them.

For water bath canning salsa: Place the jars in the pre-heated canner. Make sure they are covered with at least 1 inch of water.

Bring to a boil and start the timer. Process the jars in a boiling-water bath for 15 minutes for 8 oz and pints and 20 minutes for quarts.

When processing time is done, turn off heat, remove lid and wait 5 minutes to remove jars.

Remove jars from canner. Place 1″ apart on a kitchen towel on the counter top. Let the jars sit to cool completely (12 to 24 hours). Remove rings and check seals. (Center of lid should not flex if properly sealed.)

Wipe any drips, label and date and store in a cool, dry location out of direct sunlight. Best used within one year.

Makes around 10-12 pints.

Notes

I run my jars through the dishwasher, so they're done and warm when I’m ready to fill jars. Never fill cold jars with hot salsa! The difference in temperatures may cause the glass to break.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/4 cup

Keywords: salsa, salsa recipe for canning, canning salsa

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What is Clear Gel?

Clear Gel is ultrafine cornstarch, which is used to thicken the salsa. It is now the preferred product for thickening when canning.

Clear Jel is recommended over corn starch for canning because it doesn't form clumps in your recipe. E-Z Gel is a similar product.

Canning Salsa Safely – What You Need to Know to Make Home Canned Salsa

Thinking about canning salsa, but not sure your favorite salsa recipe is safe?

The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service has a great salsa canning guide. They discuss all the ingredients that are typically used in a salsa. They also have some sample recipes, and what makes a recipe safe (or not safe) for canning.

Some safety tips for canning salsa include:

  1. Always follow basic kitchen safety rules. Wash hands, equipment and produce, and use canning jars and lids that are in good condition.
  2. Add acid, such as lemon juice, vinegar, or citric acid to lower the pH. For water bath canning, pH should be ≤ 4.6.
  3. Lemon may be substituted for vinegar, but vinegar may not be substituted for lemon. (Vinegar is less acidic then lemon.)
  4. Use purchased vinegar with 5% acidity (homemade vinegar may be less acidic). Acidity level is important for safe home canning.
  5. Use ripe, firm tomatoes, preferably paste tomatoes. Don't used fruit that is overripe or rotting. Remove tomato skins to lower pH.
  6. It is safe to add additional dry spices such as salt, pepper or ground cumin. Do not add extra low acid fresh ingredients such as peppers or onions.
  7. Do not use flour or cornstarch for thickening, only canning safe thickeners like Clear Gel.
  8. Store home canned salsa in the refrigerator after opening.
  9. Store any jars that did not seal (or opened jars) in the refrigerator and use within 2 weeks.
  10. Do not eat home canned salsa with bulging lids, off smells or any other signs of spoilage.

If you want to store your favorite salsa recipe, but are not sure if it's safe for canning, try freezing instead. You can also refrigerate fresh salsa and use within one to two weeks.

Check it out at Safe Salsas for Canning for additional information.

Altitude Adjustments

The Ball Canning website provides the following recommendations for processing times at higher altitudes.

For Boiling Water Processing

If you are boiling at an altitude higher than 1,000 feet above sea level, adjust boiling water processing time as indicated. 

Altitude Feet                     Increase Processing Time

  • 1,001-  3,000                           5 minutes
  • 3,001-  6,000                         10 minutes
  • 6,001-  8,000                         15 minutes
  • 8,001-10,000                         20 minutes

For Pressure Canning

If you are boiling at an altitude higher than 1,000 feet above sea level, adjust pressure pounds as indicated. 

Altitude Feet                      Weighted Gauge                         Dial Gauge

  • 0 –  1,000                                    10                                             11
  • 1,001 – 2,000                              15                                             11
  • 2,001 – 4,000                              15                                             12
  • 4,001 – 6,000                              15                                             13
  • 6,001 – 8,000                              15                                             14
  • 8,001 – 10,000                            15                                             15

More Homemade Condiment Recipes

Don't forget to check out our full listing of Canning Recipes and Preserving Guides on the website, including:

P.S. – My History With Canning Salsa

This post has been updated from a post originally published in 2009, which included more of my salsa canning fiascoes. For the curious, I've included part of that original post below.

My first experience with canning salsa years ago included recipes from the Ball Blue Book and some “mild” homegrown jalapeno peppers.

Those “mild” peppers ate through two pairs of rubber gloves. They filled the house with fumes so strong that I could hardly breathe. My husband started tearing immediately as he soon as he entered the house when he came from work.

The salsa was thin and watery, strong on vinegar, and not too tasty. I gave up on home canned salsa for quite a few years – I couldn’t put myself through that again.

Enter older and wiser me, several years ago (2006?). We had close to an acre of garden, with over 20 heavily producing tomato plants. Through the awesome power of the internet, it was time to try another salsa recipe for canning.

I started hunting around for recipes, and came up with several that looked promising. They’ve changed the recipe that I originally used, but I’ll be sticking with the one I have. This makes a mild homemade salsa.

In 2013, we made seven batches of home canned salsa. The “boys” love salsa, even now that they have grown up.

home canned salsa with chips

Originally published in 2009, last updated in 2020.

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157 Comments

    1. The jars of salsa? Store the salsa in a cool, dry location out of direct sunlight. I have a canning pantry that I use for storage. Light and heat exposure will reduce shelf life.

      The salsa will easily keep for a year or more under proper storage conditions, if it lasts that long.

    2. Just finished our 3rd year of canning your wonderful salsa. Thanks for the recipe – it was our first try canning salsa 3 years ago and we’re so glad you pointed us in the right direction.

          1. Not completely sure what you mean by “mushy”, but I’m guessing the tomatoes were more like puree than chunks? There could be several different reasons:

            Overripe tomatoes – if tomatoes are too ripe, they simply don’t hold up to canning
            Waterlogged tomatoes – really wet weather near harvest will also make them squishy and mushy for canning
            Chunks were cut too small – tomatoes will break down some during processing, so keeping chunks roughly 1/2 inch square will help some of them stay intact
            Overmixing and overcooking – Mix and cook the salsa only as much as need to blend ingredients and heat through. The more you mix and cook, the more the tomatoes will fall apart.

  1. Tried making this salsa this tear.best ever.Your right my husband even said it was better than the leading store bought brand.thanks loads for sharing…God bless you

  2. Quick question – about how many cups of copped tomatoes do you end up with after processing the 22 pounds of fresh ones?

  3. Hi Laurie! Thank you for posting your canning experiences and recipes. I have NEVER attempted canned and have always found it freaking scary! Lol! However, I would like to try your salsa recipe. I have a question though. ..what’s the difference between a hot water bath and actually using the pressure cooker? How do you know which method to use? Is either safe for salsa? Thanks again for your help! ????

    1. Hi Christina.

      Water bath canning involves submerging the jars in boiling water for a set period of processing time. It is suitable for high acid foods. Pressure canning (not pressure cooking) involves processing the jars in a sealed pressure canner at elevated temperature and pressure. You must can all low acid foods. You can can high acid foods, but most people just water bath can them. Some folks prefer dealing with the steam over dealing with a big pot of boiling water, which is why I give both options for this recipe. It is heavy on tomatoes and also has added vinegar, which should keep the pH below 4.6.

      I highly recommend you check out the Ball Blue Book for a basic canning overview. I also answer many common canning questions here – https://commonsensehome.com/canning-questions-answered/

      The Natural Canning Resource Book – https://commonsensehome.com/the-natural-canning-resource-book-book-review/ – explains in detail the chemistry behind safe canning and food preservation in general.

          1. Hi Laurie thanks for such a detailed article w your recipe…I am chopping today but a bit confused about TOM. measurement…in one reply above u said approx. 6quarts which is 24 C. …in another reply you say 58 C. !!! Did you mean you fill your 8qt. Pot twice?( a few inches from the top…) did I misread?
            …I don’t I have a way to measure out my tomatoes in pounds and it seems I have 16 cups w/o the liquid so I want to be sure to divide your recipe exactly … I was really hoping to do this canning today because I got all the ingredients together and Have taken over the kitchen! Haha.
            If you don’t have time to reply today is it OK to cook the mixture slightly and refrigerate-as I’m going away tomorrow -and then reheat and can a couple of days from now ? Thank you so much for sharing all your trials and errors with less experienced canners, it’s really appreciated !

          2. The 58 cups is whole, raw tomatoes, and that’s only an approximate volume. I use the weight of the tomatoes to tell when I have enough. There’s gaps between them, and cores (stems), skins, seeds, etc that are removed during processing. Once processed, everything fits into a large (8 quart) stockpot.

  4. When everything is prepped and hot, how many jars do you end up with from this recipe? I want to make sure I have enough Mason jars before I start.

  5. I haven’t yet tried your salsa recipes. I have been looking for information to can some killer cherry salsa I came up with a few years ago. Have only eaten it fresh, but wanted to can it and have some last throughout the year. So I think from some of the things I have been reading is that I need to use lemon juice, (bottled for strength consistency) to make it acidic so it will not spoil. Or perhaps vinegar. I do already use lime in my salsa, but think it must need the lemon or vinegar too. Basically I just replace tomatoes with cherries and use several different chilies and make it pretty hot.

    1. Cherries are safe to can on their own, it’s the addition of other ingredients that bumps up the pH. If you test your final product, that should give you an idea whether or not it’s safe for canning. A pH lower than 4.6 is considered safe for water bath canning.

  6. Used this for my first time canning salsa. So far so good. I did change the spices just a bit because I do not like cumin and I left out the celery (didn’t see that on the ingredient list when I made my shopping list) but added more onion to make up the difference. added 1/4 cup dried red pepper flakes because we like things SPICY!!!! I didn’t have enough for the last pint so I put it in a bowl in the fridge to cool and once it cooled Oh my! The best salsa ever!!!!! I used lime juice instead of vinegar because that is what my mom always did. the spicy with the lime juice and cilantro is just such a good combo! I also generously doubled the cilantro as we can’t get enough of it. How long do you let your jars sit before you open them to eat the salsa?

    1. You can eat the salsa at any time, as you’ve found from the bowl in the fridge. Do watch for signs of spoilage. You added extra ingredients, which could affect the pH.

      1. Thanks for this great recipe! Every jar is gone! I was worried about how long it would be good for. It didn’t last even 1 month! I think I have found the perfect Christmas gift for all my people! Thankfully the climate I live in supports fresh produce all year round!

          1. Jars may be reprocessed, but you should check the headspace, wipe the rims clean and probably use new lids if the original ones appear malformed. I wouldn’t put them right back in again, because whatever caused the failure the first time will probably cause a failure again.

  7. I Canned this salsa summer of 2014 and again summer of 2015. The best homemade salsa I have ever had. Wasn’t watery like some. Best ever!!! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

  8. Hi Laurie, I am going to give your salsa a try – never canned it before. Quick question, have you canned kimchi before? I made it last summer but had to keep in refrigerator because of fermentation. Haven’t been able to find a safe recipe for canning. Thank you!

  9. I tried makin b salsa for the first time last year. I used the Ball recipe and it tasted so vinegary that it was thrown out. I want to try again as we eat a lot of salsa. My question is why the vinegar? Why apple cider vs. White or other types? Can that be substituted or a reduced quantity and still keep the pH level safe?

    1. The first time I made salsa I tried the Ball recipes – and we hated them, too.

      The vinegar is used in home canned salsa recipes to lower the pH of the salsa, making it safe for canning. (This recipe is also tomato heavy compared to most fresh salsas, which also helps with the pH.)

      I like using apple cider vinegar in canning because I like the flavor, and it comes from apples. Most white vinegar comes from a variety of sources, including wood pulp. I use it white vinegar for cleaning, but it can be substituted in canning recipes if you like. The pH is the same. Lemon or lime juice can also be substituted for the vinegar in this recipe – but they give a more pronounced flavor.

      1. Hi, I’m gad to see this blog still up and running. I have been canning salsa for years with an old-school hand me down recipe (which we love) but my recipe instructs to put 1 tbsp. lime juice per jar (quart)… not added to salsa mixture. I have tomatoes ‘draining’ tonight and am going to try the apple cider vinegar this time around. I have not read this recipe before and an curious the taste comparison… I have read that it is safe for water bathing, I’m thinking the time would remain the same.

  10. I made this recipe today. The salsas are still in the hot water canner at this moment. Somehow, I came out with 20 pints from your recipe once I started ladling it all out. Not half pints, pints. I used 20 pounds of tomatoes. No I did not make a mistake weighing them. I did forego peeling them, but I cannot imagine how that would have doubled the recipe. Do you think it could have been the reason? I strained probably half of them. The rest I just poured the excess juice off my cutting board before adding the tomatoes to the pot. I sure hope it turns out okay…I figured since the bulk of the excess was undoubtedly tomatoes it would still be acidic enough. I hope it doesn’t taste like chopped tomatoes instead of salsa!

      1. Oh goodness! Well I hope I didn’t mess it up too much. I did drain the half I chopped in the food processor. The half I cut by hand I just poured off the juice from the cutting board prior to adding the tomatoes to the pot. The sample I had prior to processing them was yummy! We will find out when they cool.

    1. It depends on the water content of your tomatoes, and how much you drain them. Paste tomato varieties will give a less runny salsa. If you’ve had a lot of rain,odds are your salsa will be more watery, no matter how much you try and drain the tomatoes. The excess liquid will come out during processing.

  11. Hi Laurie
    just a quick question, with your recipe can canned whole or diced tomatoes be substituted for fresh tomatoes and still be safe to can?
    I’ll be using a pressure canner but I can also use it like a water bath canner, does one process make it safer than the other?
    Thank you for your time
    Stella

    1. You should be able to substitute canned diced tomatoes, but I would increase the weight because they are packed in liquid that should be strained off. Either water bath canning or pressure canning should work just fine.

      1. ok, so I’m a little slow, drain the toms and increase the weight to match what the recipe calls for correct? I have a 6 lb can so im going to assume i’ll need more once drained …
        sorry to bug you,…
        thank you
        stella

        1. I’ve never attempted to use canned tomatoes in the recipe, and can’t remember the last time I purchased store tomatoes, so I’m not sure how much liquid is in there in proportion to the fruit. My best guess to make this work would be to drain the tomatoes and then weigh them – but this would be a little high since the starting weight with raw tomatoes includes skins, seeds and excess juice that’s removed/drained off. Maybe around 16-80 pounds drained tomatoes? When I’ve drained my tomatoes after chopping, I end up with around 7 quarts in volume. There is no simple answer, unfortunately. If you give it a go, you may way to get pH strips to test the finished salsa and make sure the pH is below 4.6 for safe canning. If not, you could freeze, or add more vinegar.

  12. Hi Laurie
    I made some salsa using fresh tomatoes, followed a ‘tested’ recipe just like it said, filled the jars and left the same amount of head space as recommended .
    I used the pressure canner and after the timer went off and the canner cooled (decompressed too) I pulled out the jars and noticed the head space was way bigger . I let them cool over night and now I see like moisture on the inside of the jars where the extra head space is. Is the salsa still safe to eat?
    Stella

    1. If the seal is still intact, the salsa should be safe. Sometimes during the canning process extra liquid is forced out of the jars. It happens. This is why I prefer flexible metal lids over the Tattler lids.

      During processing, a vacuum is pulled in the headspace of the jar. This vacuum naturally pulls down the lid. (Giving us that distinctive “popping” noise when the jars seal.) On Tattler lids, you manually screw down the lids at the end of processing. This may create a false seal where the air in the headspace has not been properly evacuated, leading to food spoilage. More on that here – https://commonsensehome.com/comparison-of-jarden-and-tattler-lids/

      Anyway, as long as you have a seal that you didn’t need to screw into place, you should be good.

  13. Thank you for your response…. I used the kerr lids with rings, to be honest I don’t know what the other ones are… the lid is super tight, im storing them now and removed the rings..
    I had some salsa left over and before it went into the pot I tasted it and it was really hot, after I simmered it and got it hot for jarring it got mild… bummer… still good but I was hoping it would keep the heat, especially since I used X hot Hatch peppers..
    Thank you so much for your awesome advice…
    Stella

    1. If you make another batch, you can safely add a spoonful or two of dry spices (like cayenne powder) without affecting safe canning. Just something to keep in mind if you want more “oomph”.

  14. You specify “sea salt”. Is this because you want the coarse grain salt, or could I easily substitute table salt? Thanks!

      1. ….or pickling salt. Table salt has anti-caking additives. Read the ingredients on your table salt, mine also says sugar. I Use pickling salt for everything I preserve.
        Also, an added trick to speed up peeling tomatoes (and make it sooooo much easier) score an “X” on the bottom side of your tomato before blanching. After you cool it, you can peel it like a banana from the bottom.

  15. Hi,
    I am new to canning and am wondering if I can salsa, when I go to open it to eat do I have to heat it up for safety reasons or can I eat cold straight from the jar?

  16. Laurie, try a batch substituting half of the oregano with Mexican oregano, it’s amazing!

  17. Laurie, what if I don’t have fresh parsley or cilantro? Can I use dried? If so, what amount of dried equal 1/4 cup fresh? Thanks!

  18. First time canning salsa, could I add corn and black beans without changing the acidity? Anxious to give this salsa recipe a try. Thanks for any help you can give me.

      1. I’m new to canning and trying to understand pressure canning versus water bath. If you add corn and black beans to this salsa which are low acid, can you just pressure can it to make it safe? Thank you in advance for any help!

        1. In theory, yes – BUT – there’s no way to test the finished product and confirm that it will heat evenly to ensure safe processing. You’re adding chunky,starchy bits that are likely to make the salsa thicker. Thick product slows down heat transfer. This may mean that the processing time needs to be increased to make sure that it heats all the way through, or it could push it to the point where it would not be recommended for home pressure canning, like pumpkin butter. (It’s safe to can pumpkin chunks, but it is not safe to can pumpkin butter.)

          1. thank you for your response! That makes sense to me that you can only use tested canning recipes so you know how much processing time it needs.

          2. It’s safe to make up your own recipes in some cases, too, but you have to be follow the rules. For instance, a mixed berry jam would be safe because berries generally have a low pH, and the sugar in jam ties up free water, which bacteria need to breed. Thick product and high pH product can easily get dangerous, especially in combination.

  19. I din’t read through all the comments but if I don’t have the things to can salsa, can I freeze this in baggies or containers?

  20. I have got to try this recipe next year. We didn’t have a garden this year, but next year I WILL have a garden, even if it’s in containers. I love home canned everything. No preservatives and I know what is in there.

    1. Don’t forget your farmers markets. Sometimes you can get good deals if you buy in bulk or ask for “seconds” – fruit that’s not cosmetically perfect, but is just fine for processing.

  21. Hello! I have several questions, I hope you can help! Can I minimize the amount of onion, and omit the sweet peppers and celery? I want to just add hot peppers (jalapeños). I could substitute lemon juice for the vinegar right? I would love to make this very soon!!

  22. If you feel that you did not add enough lemon juice to reduce the ph can you reprocess the salsa adding ac vinegar? Is the evidence of spoilage obvious, like a bulging lid, smell or other signs?
    Thank you

    1. Lemon is more acidic than vinegar. If you replace the vinegar with lemon, it should be fine. If the pH is too high and you’re breeding botulism spores, there would be no obvious signs of the problem. If the pH is low enough to prevent botulism (4.6 or lower), spoilage would be likely be indicated by mold growth, bulging lids or other obvious signs of spoilage. If reprocessing is needed, it should be done within 24 hours.

  23. I have not made your salsa recipe yet, but am going to try it when my tomatoes are ready! I wanted to ask if you have ever used the oven to process your canning? Or know any food safety issues about using it? Would love to hear your thoughts and recommendations! Someone suggested it to me years ago and I thought it made sense, same temp as boiling water and in the oven for same amount of time, or longer maybe. Thanks

    1. Oven canning is not recommended. Although the temperature range is similar (or higher in an oven), convective heat transfer (air to jars) does not work as well as conductive heat transfer (water to jars). Odds are you’d damage the sealant on the ring before getting safe internal temperatures throughout the salsa.

  24. Have you ever done this without blanching the tomatoes? I know it is more time consuming, but curious your thoughts on removing the skins without blanching

    1. No, sorry, I haven’t. Skinning 22 pounds of tomatoes without blanching sounds like a pain in the backside. I know some folks skip peeling and just chop up the tomatoes. If you don’t mind more chewy salsa and skin bits, that would be another option.

  25. Looks great! I’m researching safe water bath canned salsa, and I was thinking of using green tomatoes and miscellaneous hot peppers as end of the season Salsa. Could I sub green for red safely, and no gels?
    Of course, I would not change your great recipe at all because it’s tried and tested.

    1. You could add sugar and safely can it. I’m not much of an “extra sugar” sort of person, but I think up to a cup could be dissolved in without dramatically changing the texture.

  26. Where do you buy your canning jars? They are so expensive and I use a lot of them. I haven’t found a good source. I love your salsa, by the way!

    1. The price of jars has gotten ridiculous. I blame the home decorating trend that uses mason jars. Whenever something gets trendy, prices go up. It used to be that I could pick up jars at the local thrift stores for 25 cents each. Now, they want a dollar or more for those same jars. I can buy new at the local hardware store for less than that. It drives me nuts.

      The best deals I’ve found on canning jars are estate sales or yard sales, where someone used to can but doesn’t anymore. I also watch for sales at the local hardware store (FleetFarm) – although in recent years they switched owners and the store isn’t what is once was.

      Glad you enjoy the salsa.

  27. Several questions: Can I microwave the jars, rings, lids and sealer; and can safely? What about Cherry Tomatoes substitution? What are the best tomatoes for making paste, best tomatoes for canning whole tomatoes. I have read all the comments. I have not tried your recipe, however I will tomorrow as my tomatoes are dangerously close to being too soft. Your site is awesome. Thanks for you time.

    1. Lids and rings = metal + microwave = trouble.

      You can use your canning water to sterilize your jars and keep them warm in the oven, or run them through the dishwasher. I like to preheat my lids and rings because I think it gives a slightly better seal rate, but the current Federal guidelines say you’re fine if you wash them in warm, soapy water.

      Technically, you can make salsa out of cherry tomatoes, but it will be very watery. I don’t recommend it. I’d cook them into tomato soup or tomato sauce or pickle them whole (see below).

      The best tomatoes for making paste are paste tomatoes. They typically are long and more sausage shaped. You can see some examples of my favorites in the post “How to Grow Tomatoes Organically“. Some of my personal favorite varieties are Opalka and Amish Paste.

      For canning whole tomatoes, I like those that are firm, but small and round. They hold up better during canning if they are not overripe. Pearly Pink, Stupice, and Glacier are some of my favorites. You can see some examples in the post about pickling cherry tomatoes – https://commonsensehome.com/pickled-cherry-tomatoes/ and there’s also the post “How to Can Tomatoes in a Canner or Large Pot – Easy Instructions“.

  28. I have just finished the first batch of your salsa. I say first because I will do another. Ended up with 15 pts. and enough for a bowl to try. I have thrown away all other cooked/canned salsa recipes because this one ROCKS!!!! I followed your recipe almost exactly. I used fresh oregano since I had some. Chopped all ingredients kinda chuncky and added a sprinkle of smoked dried tobacco peppers. I did not use the ultra gel as I have had a bad experience with it hardening the food but I drained the heck out of all the vegetables so as not to have watery salsa. This recipe has restored my faith in home canned salsa. Thank you for sharing

    1. I’m so glad it worked out well for you. If you do decide to try the ultra gel in the future, make sure to dissolve it in the cold vinegar before adding it to the mix. That’s the key to avoiding clumps in the finished product.

  29. My husband has been canning pickles and salsa the last couple years. He uses half water and half apple cider vinegar plus spices to make pickles, put in green bell peppers, onions, table spoon salt. he heat the brine to boiling and puts it in washed heated jars, puts on the lids and rings and they seal. He puts them away in the cupboard after the jars cool. Is this safe to eat without water bath canning or pressure canning? He makes his salsa the same way. he heats it to boiling puts in washed heated jars, puts lids and rings on and if seals considers it okay, stores it in a cupboard. What are your thoughts? He doesn’t listen to me.

    1. If he doesn’t listen to you, I doubt he’ll listen to me, either, but we can give it a shot.

      The most dangerous thing that can get you if you screw up with home canning is botulism. It can kill you. Game over. As I note in the botulism article:

      Keep (botulism) spores from germinating by:

      Having a pH ≤ 4.6 (High acid foods)
      Adding sugar or salt to tie up free water (High sugar jams, pickled foods with salt and vinegar)

      Kill botulism spores using a pressure canner and tested canning recipes. Spores are destroyed by heating food to 240-250°F/116-121°C under pressure of 10-15 pounds per square inch (psi) at sea level.

      Since he hasn’t gotten sick yet, odds are he has enough salt and vinegar in the mix to keep the spores from germinating, which is good. You can get some pH strips or a pH meter to check the acidity and make sure it’s below 4.6. If the pH is above 4.6, then pressure canning is recommended to kill the spores.

      Assuming that the pH is 4.6 or lower, water bath canning is still the best option for long term storage. I know people have been screwing the lids on hot jars for years. My mom used to do it, and we all lived to tell about it. The thing is, as the years have gone on, the “bad bugs” are getting really bad. How many pathogens do we have out there now that didn’t exist before? The low pH should provide protection – should – BUT water bath processing provides another layer of protection. I figure I already put the time into growing, harvesting and processing – ten extra minutes is not a big deal to help protect my family.

      As noted in the post “How to Can Food at Home – Quick Guide to Safe Home Canning“:

      Head space is the distance from the top of the food to the jar lid.

      During processing, we want to drive all the air out of the jar headspace. This creates a vacuum in the top of the jar, and a tight, long lasting seal.

      So your goal with the water bath is to get rid of oxygen and create a tighter seal. Simple biology and physics. Starve the bad microbes and put the power of a vacuum to work.

      Once I have a good seal and the jars are cooled, I remove the rings for storage. Leaving them on can encourage rust and/or mold growth under the ring, as well as adding the potential for a false seal. (Where the ring is the only thing holding on the lid, not the vacuum.)

      Freezing the salsa is another option, if you have room in the freezer.

  30. Hi this is my first year really doing some serious canning. I canned diced tomatoes years ago using water bath but after reading that it wasn’t safe I through everything out. ????. Now after researching many sites I realize we would have been fine. Your salsa recipe was the first that I tried this year and it is delicious. I canned 4 1/2 pints. I ate the 1/2 obviously. I am having doubts again that the water bath is going to be safe with all the extra ingredients. I refuse to throw it all out, do you know how I could test to make sure the ph is ok when I open the jar? We are over run with tomatoes this year so I would love to make another batch after I get my sauce canned.

    1. This recipe is heavy on tomatoes, plus there’s added vinegar.

      If you want to pH test a food product after a jar is opened, the most reliable way is a good pH meter. This article explains how to purchase and use a pH meter to test canned foods – https://foodsafety.wisc.edu/assets/pdf_Files/What_is_pH.pdf

      You need to calibrate the pH meter before each use, and puree the food sample to it has a uniform pH. The less expensive tester they recommend is not well rated on amazon, but this one is similar https://amzn.to/2OOG2Gp and is better rated.

      1. Thank you for the quick reply. The salsa also compacted in the jars which makes it look like there is only 3/4. ok

        I have been making (since yesterday) the spaghetti sauce that I found on your site. It smells so good in here. Wish I could bottle that and use it in my diffuser. Getting ready to put it in jars and get them into my brand new pressure canner.

        I look forward to learning more and eating homemade this winter.

        1. The meatier the tomatoes, the less compaction. This year I had a Cour di bue tomato plant in the greenhouse that grew absolutely gorgeous tomatoes that had very few seeds. We used fruit from that one plant to make up about half the batch of salsa. It was excellent.

  31. Is it OK to use green onions and yellow onions together as long as they equal the amount called for? Also the same with vinegar and lemon juice. Can I use half lemon juice and half cider vinegar? I’m making it right now, so I hope I get an answer before adding ingredients. Thank you very much

    1. Sorry, I was not online last night so could not answer questions immediately. Yes, you can mix green onions and yellow onions, as long as the total amount is the same. Yes, you can use half vinegar and half lemon juice, but the flavor may be a little strange.

      1. Hi Laurie, I want to thank you for your quick reply! You were right about the equal amounts of cider vinegar and lemon juice, it did give the salsa a bit of a Strange but not bad taste to it. I’m still hoping that the zing gets better as it sits though, or will the flavor be more pronounced? Either way, I’m still going to add more fresh tomatoes and other ingredients to it before I serve it to give it a fresher taste and maybe that will help. Thank you for your time

  32. Thanks for such a great, informative website in regards to canning! We homeschool and I am teaching our kids a unit on canning. I’d done plenty of canning before but had always been scared/intimidated to modify recipes in the LEAST because I didn’t understand the science behind the process. Thanks to your website I’m starting to understand a lot more!!! This is especially helpful to be able to explain things to my science-minded “why” kid who wants to know EVERYTHING! I can’t wait to try more of these recipes!

  33. I’m canning salsa for the first time and want thick salsa so I squeezed all the juice I could thru my strainer. It’s left me with almost all pulp, is this ok or should I not squeeze my tomatoes and just let them drain? My husband prefers a thick salsa so I’m trying to avoid too much juice or watery salsa. 🙂 Thank you for your help!!

    1. Pulp will still make salsa, you just won’t have obvious tomato chunks.

      What I like to do to keep some chunks in the salsa is to use tomatoes with varying degrees of ripeness. The less ripe ones are firmer and hold their shape better, the more ripe ones add depth of flavor. We also started cutting the tomato chunks fairly large, up to roughly a half inch across, because they break down during handling and processing.

  34. Thank you for such a well thought out recipe! I am a beginner and will be attempting your recipe today. I have some overripe tomatoes and just ripe tomatoes that would be perfect for canning. I am thinking of just doing two batches – one that I will refrigerate or eat right away and the other batch will be for canning. I have enough tomatoes to do both and I am devoted to getting them canned and store asap! Anyway – I will let you know how it turns out. You have made me hopeful that I can do it 🙂

    1. Sometimes we use a mix of more ripe and less ripe tomatoes, if we have the option. The riper tomatoes add depth of flavor, the less ripe ones are firmer to make a nice, chunky salsa.

      Good luck!

  35. I followed a similar recipe from a newspaper article. Boiled jars, boiling salsa, filled 12 quart jars, inverted after filling. Set to cool. All jars sealed. A week later the newspaper added a missing step- yup! By the way- water bath for 29 minutes. What should I do?
    Water bath 2 weeks later?

    1. I hate to say it, but for safe storage, the jars should be emptied, salsa reheated, clean jars filled and processed correctly.

      The problem with simply heating up the sealed jars is that during normal processing, the goal is to drive all air out of the headspace (the space between the food and the lid). That’s why you only put the lids on finger tight instead of cranking them on as tight as you can. While boiling, the air is forced out, and then the vacuum formed by lack of air sucks down the lid, making a tight seal. No air trapped in the top of the jar = no opportunity for microorganisms that need air to grow to spoil your salsa. If the pH is low enough, botulism (which releases spores in an anaerobic (no oxygen) environment) will also be out of commission. (For more on botulism in canning, read here – https://commonsensehome.com/botulism/.)

  36. I have made salsa for years. I have noticed after canning this year it there is white in the jars. Can you tell me what causes this?

  37. the easiest way to remove tomato skins freeze tomatoes rinse in warm water and the skins slides right off i only put one tomato at a time in water so they don’t get too soft to peel

  38. I want to try and make this salsa today, a don’t have any ultra gel and I only have garden tomatoes can I use cornstarch and how much?

  39. Hello. I ended up with 19 pints of salsa. I used 20lbs of Roma tomatoes. I followed the recipe ingredients but I did not skin, seed or drain the tomatoes. This is clearly the reason for the extra pints I got out of it. I am worried that because I did not drain the tomatoes, the ph will be at an unsafe level and unable to prevent botulism from growing. A friend told me the salsa should be fine because all that was added was acidic tomato juice but I’m worried. Do you think the salsa is safe? If I buy ph testing strips and the salsa is at 4.6 or lower, does that mean they are forsure acidic enough? Thanks so much for any help. I’d hate to lose all the work but I’ve got a family that I need to know is safe. God bless.

  40. I highly recommend broiling your tomatoes in the oven instead of peeling, the blackened, caramelized skins add a lot of flavour. Broil until starting to blacken, then turn and continue. I usually just pulse them in the food processor a few times and add them to the pot after they come out of the oven. The original recipe came from a Diana Kennedy cookbook many years ago.

  41. I did not use vinegar, but ingredients were good. Was it a typo to leave 1/4 inch headspace???? One of my jars literally blew its lid off inside my pressure canner, and now I will have to remove the lids and start all over. All other recipes I have seen say to leave 1/2 inch of space.

    1. I normally process in a water bath canner, and have never had a problem with the 1/4 inch headspace. I have not tried it in a pressure canner, though the original recipe from Pick Your Own included pressure canning instructions. Given your experience, I’m going to remove those from the post.

      I don’t recommend canning without the vinegar or lemon. I would freeze instead if you don’t want to add acid.

  42. I want to can fresh salsa in a pressure cooker. Do I need to cook or simmer it before putting it in the cans? Also how long would I pressure cook it at 10lbs pressure?

    1. Canning anything in a pressure cooker is not recommended. You need a pressure canner for canning.

      I have not been able to verify pressure canning instructions for salsa, so I am no longer listing them on the site.

  43. You’re recipe looks more like what I would like to make. I have been using Mrs. Wages salsa mix for years but would like to add more onions, cilantro and hot peppers. Can I use your recipe and just substitute Mrs. Wages hot salsa mix instead of the spices. Would it still be at the corredt ph level?

    1. Yes. In general, it’s safe to swap out dry spices in a canning recipe, unless you were to add crazy amounts of spice (for instance, cups of dried spices instead of spoonfuls). I can’t think of a reason anyone would do such a thing, but I’ve seen all sorts of things that have surprised me over the 10+ years I’ve been doing this.

  44. Thank you for your quick answer. I have searched and searched for verification on canning salsa in quarts. I thought, just to be on the safe side, that I would add 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid to each quart. The more I have read, the more concerned about canning safe salsa I have become because of adding the ingredients such as your recipe calls for.

    I am now excited about canning my salsa in quarts. Thank you so much.

  45. I do have one more question for you. I would like to add more cilantro – no celery – no mild peppers but a lot more jalapeno peppers. My family prefers really HOT salsa. As long as I don’t increase the total amount of the non-acid items, am I still OK for keeping the salsa at the right ph so it is safe?

  46. Can I replace the vinegar with lime juice and add 1/2 tsp of citric acid? My family does not care for vinegar.

    Is there any option to replace the one cup of vinegar with lemon or lime juice and citric acid?

    1. As mentioned in the Safety Tips for Canning Salsa, lemon may be substituted for vinegar, because it is more acidic. Use bottled lemon juice to be sure of the acidity. Lime juice has a similar pH level to lemon, so it may also be substituted. You shouldn’t need to add the extra citric acid.

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