Tag Archives: acidifying

Your Favorite Salsa Recipe…Is it Safe to Can?

Raw ingredients for salsa

Maybe you inherited a delicious salsa recipe from your father and you’d like to ship it out the entire family, or maybe you got creative in the kitchen with your kids and would love to store jars of their salsa for a surefire snack throughout the school year. But then you wonder: is that unique blend of ingredients safe to can at home? Here are a few reasons why that’s an important question to ask, and a few resources to help answer it.

Cutting tomatoesChopping jalapenos

  • Salsas are a mix of acid and low acid ingredients. Overall pH is what determines if a product is safe to be processed in a boiling water canner. If a salsa is not adequately acidified to a pH of 4.6 or below, then processing in a boiling water canner will not provide enough heat to prevent toxin-production by botulism-causing bacteria. Sufficient, carefully calculated amounts of vinegar or another acid are necessary ingredients for acidification.
  • Without detailed knowledge of the ingredients, proportions, and procedure used for a salsa recipe, there is no way to tell is the product is safe for boiling water canning. Unfortunately, we at the National Center are not able to fund and staff product testing for individual recipes. Here is a link to learn more about the science behind determining the Heat-Processing of Home-Canned Foods.
  • If you are determined to can your own salsa, please call your local Cooperative Extension office and ask if they have contact information for private testing companies. This link will help you Find Your County Office.
  • Fortunately, USDA and Cooperative Extension have a variety of tested recipes and processes for canning salsa at home. Ten different and diverse salsa recipes as well as background information and step-by-step boiling water canning directions can be found in the University of Georgia publication Sensational Salsas. If you want to view the recipes by themselves, follow this link to the NCHFP webpage “How Do I?…Can Salsa”. From there you’ll see that each salsa recipe is also available in Spanish.
  • Some equipment and home preserving ingredient manufacturers also offer more recipes to try, but first do some research to find out if they are indeed reliable companies with tested recipes.

Mango Salsa Raw Mix

Quick, Ketchup with all those Tomatoes!

Do you have more tomatoes than you know what to do with? Try making your own ketchup. A classic condiment that can be found in most American households, you might like your homemade ketchup so much that you never buy another bottle at the grocery store again. The flavorful spices in these recipes might also inspire you to try the tomato-based sauce on more than just burgers and fries.

USDA has tested three slightly different recipes for you to choose from: Tomato Ketchup, Blender Ketchup, and Country Western Ketchup. What’s the difference? The steps of making the products are almost identical, but the ingredients, and therefore flavors, vary. Country Western Ketchup has a spicy kick due to chili peppers, cayenne pepper, and whole peppercorns. Blender Ketchup uses sweet bell peppers, cinnamon sticks, and a lot more sugar than the others. Tomato Ketchup sits in balance between the two, and is the most traditional of the bunch. Like the Country Western it has cayenne pepper, and like the Blender it has cloves, but it also uniquely adds onions to the mix.

In addition to the ingredients, you’ll also need to gather a few pieces of equipment:

  • Four-burner gas or electric stovetop range
  • Boiling water canner with rack
  • 4-gallon stockpot or large kettle for checking tomatoes then heating all ingredients together (“checking” means splitting the skins)
  • Large bowl or sink filled with ice water (to dip checked tomatoes)
  • Chef’s knife
  • Cutting board
  • Spice bag
  • Food sieve or food mill (for Tomato Ketchup and Country Western Ketchup), or a blender (for Blender Ketchup)

Follow these links (same as above) to read the complete directions for making Tomato Ketchup, Blender Ketchup, or Country Western Ketchup.