Harvey Co Extension
Tomatoes are a common fruit grown in home gardens and may be produced in large quantities. Many home growers may can tomatoes in various ways to preserve them for later use. One canning method might be to make and preserve salsa. Canning recipes can be found online in droves, but consumers should be aware that not all recipes may be safe for homing canning. Many people enjoy experimenting to make their own salsas, which are generally safe to eat fresh. Preserving homemade salsas for later use comes with certain risks if proper precautions aren’t met.
Remember that salsas consist of a mixture of low- and high-acid ingredients. Salsas are acidified foods and are only appropriate for boiling water bath canning if the final pH is less than 4.6. At a pH greater than 4.6, salsas are considered a low-acid food and canning procedures should be well researched to eliminate the risk of botulism growth.
According to Karen Blakeslee, extension associate and Rapid Response Center coordinator at K-State, it is not recommended to experiment with canning homemade recipes that mix low-acid vegetables together, even those that include an acid such as vinegar or lime juice. Adding extra ingredients to a tested recipe or using random amounts of ingredients is not safe. Improper canning allows bacteria to grow, increasing the risk of a fatal foodborne illness. It is best to freeze low-acid mixtures for long-term storage or to eat them fresh. Remember there are no recommendations to safely can salsa in quarts so only use pint jars.
Some other handy tips for canning salsa at home include the following:
1.) The heat of hot peppers is concentrated in the veins and seeds. To reduce heat, remove the seeds and veins to taste. Adjusting the heat after preparing salsa is almost impossible.
2.) Salsa flavors tend to mellow during storage. The optimum flavor is typically achieved after 3 to 4 weeks.
3.) Light-colored fruit, such as pears and peaches, tend to discolor. Measure the acid (vinegar, lemon juice, or lime juice) in the recipe and chop the fruit directly into the acid to stop browning reactions.
4.) Do not add extra ingredients to tested salsa recipes. This will affect the acidity of the final product and make it unsafe for canning.
5.) Roast peppers on a baking sheet in a 400°F oven or under the broiler. Turn them two or three times until the skin is blackened, about 20 minutes. Place roasted peppers in a heatproof bowl. Cover with a plate or covering and cool. Use a sharp knife to lift skins off the peppers. Discard skins and chop peppers.
6.) Always use recipes with measurements (cups or pounds) of ingredients for safe results.
If you have lots of tomatoes left from the growing season this year and want to give the salsa a try, check out this recipe from the Canning Tomatoes and Tomato Products publication from Oregon State University. Enjoy!
Chile Salsa (Hot Tomato-Pepper Sauce)
5 lbs tomatoes, diced
2 lbs chile peppers, chopped
1 lb onion, chopped
1 c vinegar (5% strength)
1 Tbsp salt
½ tsp pepper
Yield: 6 to 8 pints
Caution: Wear plastic or rubber gloves, and do not touch your face when handling or cutting hot peppers. If you don’t wear gloves, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face or eyes.
Procedure: Wash tomatoes, and dip in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until skins split. Dip in cold water, slip off skins and remove cores. Coarsely chop tomatoes, and combine with onions, peppers, and remaining ingredients in a large saucepan. Heat to boiling, and simmer for 10 minutes. Fill jars, leaving ½ inch headspace. Adjust lids, and process in a boiling water canner: 15 minutes for 0 to 1,000 feet altitude; 20 minutes for 1,001 to 6,000 feet; or 25 minutes at 6,001 to 8,000 feet.