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Canned Tomato Salsa

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I had a cookie sheet piled high with Roma tomatoes that I rescued from the rains, and patiently waited for them to ripen, so I could make my husband his favorite canned tomato salsa.  Today they were red and absolutely perfect!

When canning tomato salsa, it is crucial to remember that tomatoes are pretty borderline for canning in boiling water, as their acidity is not that high.  When you add low acid veggies, like peppers, onions, garlic and cilantro, you are lowering the acid level even more.  At this point, you have to assume the salsa is low acid.  Most canning recipes for salsa have you add vinegar to ensure that bacteria will not grow in your nicely canned jars.  Please, please, keep this in mind!

Canned Tomato Salsa

My salsa recipe is based on the “Zesty Salsa” recipe found in Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving, I only made minor adjustments to fit my taste, though my technique adds a few more steps.  My salsa is thicker, without being cooked as long, but you can omit those steps if you prefer.

Roma tomatoes work best because they have less liquid and hold their shape well when cooked.  Prepare tomatoes by peeling and coring them, there are detailed instructions here.

canning tomatoes

This is my set-up, though this photo was taken on a day I was canning crushed tomatoes.  They get processed the same way!

For this recipe you need 8 cups of peeled, cored and chopped tomatoes.  Put the tomato chunks in the food processor and give it a few pulses, to have them nicely chopped.  I would say do this in 3 batches so that you don’t end up with mush.

At this time, put your seeds and peel mixture in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Let the mixture reduce as you prepare the other ingredients.

Select the peppers you intent to use.

chile peppers for salsa

When salsa gets cooked down and then processed in the boiling water, it can lose some heat.  I use a selection of peppers and only take the seeds out of some of them.  It really depends on what you like.  Remember to use disposable rubber gloves when handling these buggers, and chop them in the food processor to contain the madness.  You need 2 cups of chopped peppers.

cook salsa

Start cooking the tomatoes and peppers, then add the onion, garlic, cilantro, salt, vinegar and cumin.

The seeds and peel mixture should be cooked down by now, remove from heat and run through a food mill.

food mill tomato paste

You will be left with a lovely tomato paste!

tomato paste

Pour this into the salsa as a thickener.  You can also add a Tbs of “tomato “dust” to thicken it further.

When the salsa has cooked for 10-20 minutes, ladle it into hot, sterile pint jars, with 1/2 inch head space, adjust the lids, and process 15 minutes.  The Ball book says to remove the lid from the canner and let the jars hangout 5 more minutes in the hot water.  Lift the jars from the water and set to cool.  This recipe makes 7 pints.

canned salsa


Allow the salsa to sit for a few weeks in the jars for the flavors to really develop!

Canned Tomato Salsa
  • 8 cups of peeled, cored, chopped tomatoes
  • peels and skins reserved and cooked down to paste
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cups hot peppers, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • 1 Tbs tomato dust (optional)
  1. Peel, core and chop tomatoes.
  2. Set peels and seeds in a small pan, boil and reduce until thick.
  3. In a food processor, finely chop onion, peppers, garlic and cilantro.
  4. Add chopped tomatoes, onion, peppers, garlic, cilantro, salt, cumin, and vinegar to a large pot, bring to a boil.
  5. After the seeds and peels mixture has thickened, run through a food mill and add to the salsa.
  6. Add the tomato dust, if desired.
  7. After boiling 10-20 minutes, ladle the hot salsa into hot, sterile jars, with ½ inch headspace, and adjust lids. process 15 minutes in a boiling water canner, then remove the lid and process 5 more minutes.
  8. Remove from canner and cool.


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