WARNING: This homemade salsa recipe is shelf stable, simple, and shares the truth about why you should stop using garden fresh tomatoes to make salsa!
This is the EASIEST and FASTEST Homemade Salsa Canning Recipe!
The versatility of salsa makes it a pantry staple because it compliments everything from meats to veggies, pastas and grains. You can make your own homemade salsa and stop buying the store stuff which contains waaay too much sugar, sodium, preservatives (and sometimes not enough tomatoes) with less than 20 minutes of hands-on work!
Store-Bought, Canned Tomatoes are Better than Fresh (Yup-I said it!)
Fresh tomatoes are tedious. Delicious, but darn-it if they aren’t time consuming! They need to be cored, blanched to remove the skins, seeded, then diced.
Darlin’-I don’t always have time for all that.
Here’s my reality- I’m mostly a weekend canner. The weekdays are a blur between work and homelife, so when the weekend hits, canning is something I mostly fit in early in the morning or later in the evening. The daunting task of preparing tomatoes for the quantity I know my family would easily blast through would have me scared to even attempt this recipe.
Oh, you too?
Honey, I’m here to set you free from the pressure of thinking you can only get “the best salsa” using vines-ripened tomatoes from your garden or the farmers market.
(Cuz it just ain’t true).
You’ll Get DELICIOUS Salsa Using Canned Tomatoes!
Here are some of the reasons you’ll ditch using fresh tomatoes and go for the can!
- Canned tomatoes are preserved at the height of tomato season and always have a bit of salt added. This combination ensures a consistent, rich tomato flavor that’s more difficult to achieve with fresh tomatoes harvested throughout the growing season.
- The work of cleaning and blanching your tomatoes to remove the skins and cutting them is already done! Just open the can, dump in the roaster and get to the good part already (making salsa).
- For those of us with no or limited land or aren’t yet able to grow all of our tomato needs, sourcing from the grocery store is an easy and economical way to make homemade recipes for your pantry. I still count this recipe as homemade because it comes to life as you season it to your liking with herbs and caramelized onions!
Every Canning Kitchen Needs a Roaster Oven (especially tiny kitchens)!
Hands down, an electric roaster oven is the perfect countertop appliance to batch cook a large amount of salsa. Too often, roaster ovens only see the light of day duringThanksgiving, but it can be used for so much more than turkey! You can bake, steam, and cook for a crowd without breaking a sweat. Plus, a roaster heats more evenly and efficiently than your stove top and is perfect for small kitchens with limited stove top burners or countertop space. As a canner, I regularly use my roaster to batch cook soups, meats, jams, and broths that are headed for my pantry. Gone are the days of using multiple pots to cook a single recipe while I’m also using a stove top burner to can. A roaster oven is shockingly versatile and you may just end up keeping it on your counter longer than you expected.
Besides suffering from O.C.D (Obsessive Canning Delight), I’m also a thrift-aholic and I scored my gently used 22- quart Hamilton Beach Roaster Oven for just 20 bucks! So, if you don’t want to shell out full price, shop consignment, Facebook Marketplace, or ask around to see if coworkers or family members have one that hasn’t seen the light of day for a few years.
You can thank me later.
You can make dozens of easy meals with a jar of Salsa!
Once you have jars of this salsa on your shelf, you’ll never consider it a ‘basic’ dip. Here are some recipe ideas you’ll use your homemade salsa in at every meal!
Breakfast: Are you in a breakfast rut? Then a jar of homemade salsa is exactly what you need. If you hadn’t tried making Salsa Egg Cups or a Salsa & Sausage Hash brown bake, where have you been?
Lunch: Salsa is the perfect accompaniment to hearty up quick lunch time recipes. Your friends and family will rave over Chicken Salsa, Chicken Spaghetti, or a Tex-Mex favorite, or Chicken Chilaquiles. Each of these recipes come together in under 15 minutes using just a single pan, making them easy go-to’s!
Dinner: Make dinner delicious just by dumping a jar a salsa into homemade favorites you’re family already enjoys. Salsa Soup, Salsa Scalloped Potatoes or a Salsa Manicotti Bake look like meals that took hours (not minutes) to make!
Pssst…I’ve prepared each of the meals I just mentioned in the video to this recipe. Watch it here!
What Type of Canned Tomatoes Should I Use?
There are a few things to consider when you reach for store-bought canned tomatoes. You can use crushed, whole peeled tomatoes or diced tomatoes, but there are some notable differences you’ll need to consider.
- Diced canned tomatoes are good if you’re making a slow-cooked dish but you still want distinct tomato pieces which is why they’re perfect for chili, stew and salsa. BUT, chopped tomatoes have the preservative calcium chloride to help them keep shape so they don’t break down as quickly during the cooking and storing process. Calcium chloride is a common food additive used to keep canned fruits and vegetables firm. In the case of diced tomatoes, the addition of calcium chloride means they’ll retain their bite and shape even as they’re cooked. You can avoid this by ensuring that you purchase organic diced tomatoes that don’t have calcium chloride listed as an ingredient.
- Whole or Crushed canned tomatoes (organic or conventional) do NOT use calcium chloride which is why they are ideal for soups, sauces or baked pastas where the tomatoes should break down completely.
Use what makes you most comfortable. I’ve used all three with this recipe and the truth is, once you get your seasonings right, no one is even thinking about how the individual tomatoes look!
Recipe Tips You Need To Know:
Roast the onions. This recipe starts with an optional step, but one that has a big flavor payoff. Spread diced onions on a baking sheet and season with a bit of pepper. Roast your onions in a preheated, 435 degree oven until the onions are tender and the cut surfaces are golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Roasting brings out an unbeatable caramelized flavor. You need to try it to believe it!
Diced vs. Crushed vs. Whole Peeled Tomatoes. This recipe easily accommodates the use of diced, crushed, or whole peeled tomatoes. It’s also your preference to select plain or seasoned varieties that use Italian blends with basil, oregano, thyme or other herbs. Let your taste be your guide.
For best flavor, use lime juice! Traditionally, salsa recipes have used lemon instead of lime juice. More recently, modern salsa canning recipes have swapped lemon for lime juice, which supports salsa’s authentic flavor. This is a safe alternative as long as store-bought juice is used to ensure standardized acidity of 2.0-2.3. Fresh fruit juice is not recommended because it can vary in acidity.
Don’t tweak the vinegar/lime combination. Any food preserved in a boiling water bath must have a high acid content. Tomatoes are naturally acidic foods, but the added lime and vinegar ratio permeates into into the food product itself, destroying any active enzymes and removing all air bubbles. This process is what makes your food shelf-stable and safe to eat and keep for long term storage. Because vinegar and lime juice do not have the same pH (acid) levels, they are not interchangeable in equal amounts in this recipe.
Don’t be a Cry Baby. If you want to avoid tearing up as you cut the onions, pop them into the fridge or freezer for about 30 minutes to get ‘em nice and chilled. The blast of cold prevents the tear causing compounds (lachrymator) from releasing into the air and irritating the nerves around your eye. The trick is to work fast so your onions don’t warm up. Remove 1 or 2 onions at a time from the fridge as you need them.
Pick a Jar, Any Jar! Salsa is pretty flexible about what jar it wants to live in, so feel free to use pints or quarts. In this recipe I used pints because It’s also similar to the size of store-bought salsa jars (this makes it easy to swap in for recipes I may want to try). Remember, since different sizes of jars require different processing times, for food safety, you should always process only similar jar sizes together and adjust the process time per size.
THE EASIEST WAY TO CAN SALSA | LARGE BATCH RECIPE
Salsa Recipe for Large Batch Canning
- 18, 28 oz Diced Tomatoes (diced, crushed, or whole peeled)
- 8 cups onions, chopped
- 3 cups jalapenos
- 3 cups bell peppers
- 4 cups minced garlic
- 1 3/4 cup white vinegar
- 1/2 cup cumin
- 3/4 cup lime juice
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 4 tbsp salt
- 30 ounces tomato paste
- 2 cups cilantro, chopped (add after simmering period, right beforing jarring)
- Optional: Spread diced onions on a baking sheet and season with a bit of pepper. Roast your onions in a preheated, 435 degree oven until the onions are tender and the cut surfaces sare golden brown (about 25-30 minutes). Roasting brings out unbeatable carmelized flavor!
- Fill roaster with tomatoes (if not using diced, crush your hands or use an emersion blender as you add them to the roaster)
- Add onions, bell peppers, jalapenos, garlic, vinegar, lime juice, sugar, salt and tomato paste. (Note: you may have to let the tomatoes cook down before adding the sugar, vinegar and tomato paste so that ingredients fit in the roaster).
- Simmer 2 to 5 hours to desired thickness. Stir occassionally, scraping sides of the roaster to deter burning. Add/adjust salt, sugar, and peppers to taste. You can add tomato juice if the salsa becomes too thick.
- Ladle hot salsa into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles with a debubbler with a debubbler.
- Clean jar rims with distilled vinegar or water. Center canning lid on jar and adjust band to finger-tip tight.
- Place a jar rack in a tall stock pot. Place filled jars on rack and add enough water to cover jars by 1 inch.
- Adjust heat to medium-high, cover pan with lid and bring water to a rolling boil. Once a boil is reach, process pint jars for 15 minutes and quart jars for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and remve cover. Let jars cool for 5 minutes.
- Remove jars from canner, do not retighten bands if loose. Cool for a minimum of 8 hours. Test seals. Label and store jars in a cool, dark place.
How do I Sterilize my Jars?
Sterilizing your jars is a quick and easy process that destroys the enemies of preservation — bacteria, yeast and fungi so that your food stays fresh and shelf stable for 12 months (or more). It’s not hard to do at all. Below, I’ve shared several options, pick your preference:
- Run the jars through a ‘quick clean’ or ‘sterilization’ cycle in your dishwasher.
- Place the jars in a large pot (12 quart) of water on top of a steaming rack (so they don’t touch the bottom of the pan), and bring the water to a boil for 10 minutes. Remove hot jars right before use.
- Or hand wash and rinse the jars, dry them, and place them (without lids or rings) in a 200°F oven for 10 minutes.
You’ve got this!
Filling Your Jars
- Sanitize (directions above) your jars and place them on a dishtowel.
- Grab your funnel and ladle that salsa goodness into the jars, leaving a 1/2 inch of headspace.
- Remove any air bubbles by running a long plastic or wooden skewer between the jar and the salsa.
- Wipe the rims of the jars with vinegar to remove any spillage (which can prevent your jars from creating a seal).
- Secure the rings to the top of your jar until they are “fingertip tight”–secured but air still has room to pass through.
Processing Your Salsa on the Stove
- Using a jar rack or plate, lower the jars into the boiling water of your water bath canner.
- Pour in more water to ensure that the water covers at least an inch above your jars.
- Place the lid on your pot.
- Bring water to a full boil for 15 minutes (pints) or 20 minutes (quarts). Then use a jar lifter to remove the jars out of the water and let them cool on a towel undisturbed for a minimum of 8 hours. (note: do not tighten the caps or you’ll risk breaking the seal).
When are the Jars Ready?
As your jars cool, you’ll hear the jars making clicking pops. Leave the jars undisturbed on a towel for a minimum of 8-24 hours. After that, you can confirm the jars have sealed by removing the rings. A sealed jar lid will remain secured to the jar without the rim and be slightly indented in the center. Use your index finger to moderately tap on the jar in a few places, it should not pop back when pressed. The majority of your jars will seal within a few hours of cooling down. If you have any jars that didn’t seal properly, just store them in the fridge and use them within 3 months.
When does this Salsa Expire?
Your canned salsa will be shelf stable and kept (unopened) for at least eighteen months. Beyond this date, if the lid is still sealed, it’s safe to eat but you may notice slight degradation in color and taste. If you’re not canning this, freeze for up to 3 months.
Craving more tomato recipes? Don’t miss out on my Tomato Jam, which will surely become another one of your favorites!