Easy to make and simple to can in a boiling water canner, salsas are very popular for home canning. One of the most common requests we receive at the National Center is “Can I can my salsa recipe?”
The answer is not what people usually want to hear…but the trouble with canning your own salsa recipes is that most recipes contain low-acid ingredients, and low-acid foods need to either be pressure canned or properly acidified by the addition of a strong acid (like lemon juice or vinegar) for boiling water canning. Either way, a process time needs to be determined for any particular recipe to ensure that spoilage or sickness-causing microorganisms will be destroyed (this time varies based on qualities like pH, solid-to-liquid ratio, size and shape of jar, etc.).
So then, we cannot recommend that just any homemade salsa recipe be canned. That’s why we have a variety of carefully tested salsa recipes for you to choose from. Safety first, but also quality, were given priority in developing these recipes, so we hope you will find at least one that you like.
If the idea of following a recipe exactly is tough for you to swallow, then, well, you might want to consider taking up cooking instead of canning, but for now, you might also enjoy playing with our Choice Salsa recipe. This recipe was developed to allow for a great deal of flexibility – you can use any variety of onions and peppers so long as you use a total of 9 cups diced onions and/or peppers per batch. The only other ingredients you need are 6 cups chopped tomatoes, 1½ cups bottled lemon or lime juice, and 3 teaspoons canning or pickling salt. Remember to enjoy some fresh and refrigerate jars after opening!
Use fresh cranberries in these innovative recipes from the National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP) to spice up your holiday meals. The yields will provide you with some for now, some for later, and some to give away! Elizabeth Andress, Director of the NCHFP, had this to say about these exciting recipes, “Both of these can be made during cranberry season and used as delightful homemade gifts.”
Cranberry Orange Chutney stands on its own as a side dish, or can be spooned over or basted into ham, turkey, chicken, or pork. Cranberries have so much natural pectin that the final product is almost jellied. Raisins add texture to tang from orange juice and zest, while the warm spice of ginger and cinnamon round out the overall flavor. You could add small amounts of other dried spices if you like, such as cloves, dry mustard, or cayenne pepper. After it’s made, chutney will continue to set over the next 24 hours, but you can eat it once it cools down. Store un-canned chutney in clean storage containers and refrigerate. Remember to also refrigerate opened jars if you don’t finish it all at once.
Spicy Cranberry Salsa brings something new to the table by essentially switching out tomatoes for cranberries. The flavor is highlighted by Serrano peppers and honey. Use this salsa as a dip for chips, as a side with meat, or as a spread stirred into cream cheese. This recipe, procedure, and process time are also available in Spanish.
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.
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.