Pick a Recipe
While all tomato-based salsas will be acidic, certain recipes have been specially formulated to ensure the acidity is at the right level for safe canning. Start by choosing a recipe that is desiged for canning, such as Homemade Tomato Salsa.
How to Can Salsa
Boiling-water canner for sterilizing equipment and processing jars of food.
Step 1: Setting Up
To get started canning salsa, you'll need some basic supplies. Included in this list: the boiling water canner (the large pot where you'll process your canning jars); a jar lifter for pulling jars from boiling water; canning jars, lids, and metal screw bands; magnetic lid wand for lifting sterilized lids from the boiling water; a nonmetallic spatula for pressing bubbles out of jars; a ruler to measure headspace; and a funnel to direct hot liquids into jars. These items can be found with canning supplies in most grocery stores and supercenters.
From left to right: jar lifter, magnetic lid wand, ruler, and wide-mouth funnel.
Glass canning jars of different sizes, lids, and screw bands.
Step 2: Prepping the Tomatoes
Cut an X in the bottom of each tomato.
Because tomato skins can add an undesirable texture to your salsa, most recipes recommend that you peel your tomatoes before chopping. This is an easy three-part process following these steps.
- Use a sharp paring knife to cut a shallow X in the bottom of each tomato. This will give you an easy place to begin peeling once the skins split.
Remove tomatoes from boiling water and place in a bowl of ice water.
- Bring a pot of water to boiling. Use a slotted spoon to immerse tomatoes in the water (tomatoes should be covered by water) and let cook for 30 to 60 seconds or until tomato skins begin to split. Using the slotted spoon, transfer tomatoes to a large bowl of ice water to chill them quickly.
The skins will easily slip off the tomatoes.
- When tomatoes are cool enough to handle, use your fingers or a paring knife to peel skin off tomatoes. Discard the skins. Use a paring knife to core the stem ends of the tomatoes.
Remove the seeds and cores from tomato wedges.
- Cut each tomato into quarters. Use a spoon or your fingers to scoop the seeds from each tomato quarter. Chop and cook tomatoes and other ingredients as directed in your specific recipe.
Step 3: Canning Salsa
Sterilize your canning jars, lids, and equipment.
- Thoroughly wash your canning jars, lids, funnel, and other canning equipment in hot soapy water; rinse thoroughly. Place jars in the boiling water canner (or a separate large pot); cover jars with hot water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Boil the jars for 10 minutes; keep them in the simmering water until needed. Set screw bands aside. Place lids in a separate saucepan. Cover with water; bring to a simmer over medium heat (do not boil.)
- If using a separate pot for sterilizing the jars, fill the boiling-water canner half full of water; bring to boiling. Heat additional water in another large pot (to top off water in the canner); keep it hot but not boiling. Place the canning rack in the boiling-water canner.
Ladle salsa into jars using a sterilized wide-mouth funnel.
- Remove sterilized jars from the hot water; place hot jars on cloth towels to prevent them from slipping during packing.
- Pack hot salsa into jars using a sterilized wide-mouth funnel, allowing for adequate headspace (check your recipe for specifications). (Headspace is the amount of space you must leave at the top of your jar to allow for food to expand when heated.)
Use a ruler to check for amount of headspace recommended in the recipe.
Release trapped air bubbles using a sterilized nonmetallic utensil.
- Release trapped air bubbles by gently working a sterilized nonmetallic utensil or spatula (such as the one provided in a canning kit) down the jars' sides. If necessary, add additional salsa to maintain necessary headspace.
Add each jar to the rack in the canner as it is sealed.
- Wipe jar rims with a clean, damp cloth; food or liquid left on the jars' rims will prevent a perfect seal. Place prepared lids on jars; add screw bands and tighten according to manufacturer's directions.
- Set each jar into the rack in the canner as it is filled and sealed. Jars should not touch one another. Replace canner cover each time you add a jar.
- When all the jars have been added, ladle hot water from the extra pot into the canner to cover jars by 1 inch.
Cover the jars in the pot during processing time.
- Cover; heat to a full rolling boil. Begin processing time, following recipe procedures and timings exactly. Keep water boiling gently during processing, adding additional boiling water if level drops. If water stops boiling when you add more, stop timing, turn up heat, and wait for a full boil before resuming counting.
Remove jars from the boiling-water canner using a jar lifter.
- Use a jar lifter to remove the jars from the boiling water. Place the hot jars on a rack or on towels in a draft-free area to cool. Leave at least 1 inch of space between jars to allow air to circulate.
- After jars are completely cooled (12 to 24 hours), press the center of each lid to check the seal. If the dip in the lid holds, the jar is sealed. If the lid bounces up and down, the jar isn't sealed. Check unsealed jar for flaws. Contents can be refrigerated and used within 2 to 3 days, frozen, or reprocessed within 24 hours. To reprocess, use a clean, sterilized jar and a new sterilized lid; process for the full length of time specified. Mark and label so you can use any reprocessed jars first. If jars have lost liquid but are still sealed, the contents are safe. However, any food not covered by liquid will discolor, so use these jars first.
- Wipe jars and lids. Remove, wash, and dry screw bands; store for future use. Label jars with contents and date; include batch number if you can more than a load a day (if a jar spoils, you can identify others from same batch). Store jars in a cool (50 to 70 degrees F), dry, dark place. Use within 1 year.
Get more great canning recipes.
Try canning these yummy jams and jellies.
The timings in these recipes are for altitudes up to 1,000 feet above sea level. Water boils at lower temperatures at higher altitudes, so consider these points before you begin canning.
- Sterilizing jars: Boil jars an additional 1 minute for each additional 1,000 feet.
- Boiling-water canning: Call your county extension service or visit its website for detailed instructions on canning in your area.