Having salsa in your pantry at all times can be a huge lifesaver when it comes to mealtimes. You know there’s nothing like a fresh batch of salsa and today, I’m sharing how to can salsa the easy way so you can keep it year-round.
In the post, I’m going to answer all of your salsa canning questions, so keep reading. But first, if you’re a visual person, watch this video.
This recipe originated from my friends at Ball® Home Canning, my go-to resource on all things preserving. Why not go straight to the pros to give you this step-by-step guide?
I’ve also linked everything I used in this post; which is great because Ball canning products are easy to find online and in major retailers.
If you’ve found yourself with more tomatoes in your garden you can consume and already figured out you can’t freeze tomatoes, you’re in the right post. Preserving them in salsa is the way to go!
This post will explain everything you need to know to keep your garden tomatoes for months to come; from how to make the tomato peeling process 1000x easier to how to store your precious canned salsa and more.
You know why I love having canned salsa in my pantry? Because I can always have it on hand for all the taco recipes on this website and for chips, of course!
Today, I’m going to show you how to can salsa at home with a simple and easy-to-follow canning process. You’ll need a few canning supplies to get the job done so let’s go over those first.
What Do You Need to Start Canning
When it comes to canning, most beginners get overwhelmed with the canning supplies. Thankfully the Ball® Home Preserving Starter Kit comes with everything you need to get started.
With a starter kit, you’ll have everything you need to can your first batch of salsa or jelly.
A starter kit includes:
- A preserving rack
- 3 16-ounce jars
- Basic Preserving Utensils
- Home Preserving Guide & Recipe Booklet
Along with the canning items above, you’ll also need a canner, which is a large pot big enough to fill with water and jars. I used my stock pot, the same one I use to make stock or boil spaghetti –yes, that one.
Is Canning Easy
Whether it’s pickling vegetables, making jam with berries, or sauces and salsa with tomatoes canning is an easy way to save money and enjoy our favorite foods year-round.
The process is simple, although it does take some time, and there are several steps that need to be followed to a T, or you might end up with a bad batch, and that would be a tragedy!
Easy Recipe for Salsa
This salsa recipe is similar to how I make my fresh salsa, and with the addition of vinegar and proper processing time inside Ball® Jars, we have a deliciously preserved fresh salsa for months to come!
How to Remove the Skins from Tomatoes for Salsa
Unlike my traditional, make-and-eat salsa recipe, this version calls for peeled tomatoes –all canned salsa recipes do.
You didn’t think I was going to peel fresh tomatoes with a vegetable peeler, did you? Hah, please! That’d be a mess and nearly impossible. There are two ways to peel tomatoes; boiling them and roasting them.
In my experience, roasting the tomatoes is the easiest way to remove those skins.
First, you can boil the tomatoes until the skin becomes tender enough. You remove them from the pot, set them aside until they cool down enough to handle, and remove the skins.
Do you Have to Peel Tomatoes to Can Them?
Tomato skins can be tough and bitter, so it’s nice — but not necessary — to remove them from tomatoes to be canned. For this recipe, I’ve chosen the roasting method to remove the peel, since I found this to be the easiest and best way to do this in bulk.
How to Roast Tomatoes for Salsa
If roasting tomatoes seems like something your grandmother would do, it’s because she probably did! I know my grandmother roasted tomatoes to make all sorts of recipes and I remember the process being easy –and it is!
By simply placing all the tomatoes on a baking sheet and roasting them, you’ll get the skins off easily. You are going to roast them in the oven until the charred skins begin to peel themselves back.
At that point, you’ll remove the sheet pan from the oven, let the tomatoes cool down to room temperature and then, they peel back like magic! Roasting tomatoes also brings out the natural sweetness on tomatoes and gives them a deep caramelized flavor we love.
Which Tomatoes are Best for Salsa?
The best tomatoes for salsa are the ones that are abundant, ripe, and have more meat on them. The easiest to find are Roma tomatoes; although some people use San Marzano tomatoes.
In the end, whatever is in season will make prime salsa and sauces. They also cost less so buying them in bulk at your local farmer’s market or grocery store and canning them is a smart way to enjoy summer tomatoes year-round.
The key to fresh salsa is using a tomato with few seeds such as Romas, but I’ve found that removing the seeds and core with a spoon does the trick.
How Do I Make a Smooth Salsa?
If you prefer a smoother salsa recipe rather thank chunky, either use an immersion blender in your pot before filling your jars or, transfer the salsa into a blender or food processor and pulse until your desired consistency.
Once you have the texture of salsa you like to enjoy, transfer it to your jars before canning.
How to Can Salsa
Here’s where you might need a notebook and pencil –or simply print the recipe below. The steps aren’t complicated, but all of them are equally important.
Here is how to can salsa:
1. Preheat the Jars
First things first, place the jars in a large pot of simmering (180F) water. This will prevent them from bursting when filled with hot food.
2. Prepare the recipe
Once the tomatoes are roasted, remove the skins and give them a rough chop.
Add them to a large pot along with the green onions, garlic, jalapenos, vinegar, lime juice, hot sauce, cilantro, and salt, stir, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes or until cooked down. Remove from heat.
3. Fill Jars with Salsa
Carefully, remove the jars from the simmering water with the Jar Lifter and set onto a flat surface. Fill each jar with the hot salsa.
4. Remove Air Bubbles
Gently tap the bottom of the jar on a flat surface to remove any air bubbles; this will keep the salsa from spoiling due to trapped air.
Leave ½ inch of space between lid and salsa.
5. Wipe the Rim
Using a clean, damp cloth remove any residue or food from the tip of the jar. Top it with a lid and apply the band until it’s fingertip tight.
6. Place the Jars in the Canner.
Make sure the water covers each jar by 1 to 2 inches and bring it to a rolling boil over medium-high heat for 15 minutes.
When complete, turn off the heat and allow jars to sit in hot water for 5 minutes.
Not you, the jars. Once you’ve removed them from the water with the tongs and set aside onto a flat surface. Leave the jars undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours.
Time to apply the flex test! Apply pressure to the center of the lid with your fingertip, if it bends, it’s a bad egg. Second, remove the bands and try to lift the top with your fingers. Properly sealed lids will remain attached, otherwise, toss it!
Fresh Salsa vs Canned Salsa
The difference between fresh salsa and canned salsa is that fresh salsa, as the name entails, is a mixture of raw ingredients, while canned salsa is often cooked to preserve it and cook out any bacteria.
At the grocery store, fresh salsa is always refrigerated and has a short shelf life, while the salsa found on the grocery shelves has been cooked and canned using the same process below.
Another ingredient used to preserve salsa is an acid, like vinegar, explained further below.
Is Vinegar Necessary for Canning Salsa?
The acid in the vinegar helps preserve the salsa you are canning. I assure you that you will not be tasting the vinegar in the salsa itself, it’s used to preserve it. The natural acidity in tomatoes isn’t often enough to preserve it long-term, which is why vinegar is used in this recipe for canning.
Can I Use Lime Juice or Lemon Juice Instead of Vinegar When Canning Salsa?
If you want to use lime juice or lemon juice in this recipe instead of vinegar, I recommend you use the bottled kind since they have higher acidity than squeezing fresh lemon or lime juice out of the fruit.
Do You Need to Cook Salsa Before Canning?
Yes, cooking salsa is a necessary step before canning to cook out any bacteria left in the food, which would only multiply when sealing and storing for long periods of time.
To can or preserve food for long-term storage you can store the food in a jar filled with an acidic liquid (like pickles or olives) or cooked, such as jams, sauces, and salsas.
When you open your previously canned salsa months from now, it will not taste like tomato sauce, it will taste like a better version of salsas you find in your grocery shelf not in the fresh/refrigerated aisle.
Best Jars for Canning
The best jars for canning are always made from glass and with lids that are BPA-free. The jar size is always a matter of preference, with smaller 8-ounce jars being traditionally used for jelly and 16-ounce and 32-ounce jars for canning salsa, sauces, and vegetables.
There are also two lid sizes, traditional, regular-mouth canning jars, and wide-mouth jars. And while each is best for different foods, it always boils down to a matter of preference and what will make the canning process easier.
The ones I used in this post are made by Ball, which has been making the most popular jars for canning since 1880.
Water Bath Canning
There are two approaches to safe canning: water bath and pressure canning. For this recipe, I’m using the water bath; it’s the simplest and beginner-friendly method.
Water bath canning is best for high-acid foods and recipes that include the right amount of acid. The combination of time and temperature destroys bacteria while the heat creates a vacuum seal.
Items such as fruit, jams, jellies, salsa, tomatoes, pickles, sauces, pie fillings, and condiments use this method.
Pressure Canning Salsa
This form of canning uses high temperatures to safely preserve foods that are low in acid such as meat, poultry, vegetables, chili, and seafood.
Once again, the combination of time and temperature destroys bacteria and creates a tight vacuum seal, so food stays fresh longer.
How Long Does Canned Salsa Last?
Canned salsa will last 12 to 18 months, given that the seal of your jar’s seal has not been broken. If you are canning a lot, make sure to rotate your jars often so you always enjoy the freshest salsa.
After opening, salsa can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
The best thing about canned salsa, whether you open it after 3 months or 9, is that you’ll be able to taste all the flavor from your garden tomatoes, the same ones you put lots of work into months ago.
Best Tacos to go with this salsa recipe
So, what does one do with homemade salsa? Tacos! At this rate, your canned salsa won’t last a month, but tacos are worth it. Here are 3 of my favorites:
The real question is, do you can? If so, what are your favorite recipes? For more fresh ideas, go check out what they are making at Ball® Jars Fresh Preserving.