Preserve salsa safely

Many gardens are producing an abundant crop of tomatoes this year! One popular way to preserve tomatoes is to can salsa. While tomatoes are an acidic food, adding low acid foods such as peppers and onions changes the acid content. Instead of using a tested recipe, many canners like to make up their own recipe. This, however, can be unsafe. Here are some tips to preserve salsa safely:

Use a tested recipe. These can be found in Extension publications or in reliable sources such as the Ball Blue Book. These recipes use water bath processing. Do not change the amounts of ingredients. You can change the types of peppers to increase or decrease heat but use the amount specified in the recipe. Packaged salsa mixes, such as Mrs. Wages or Ball®, also are safe to use.

Freeze salsa. To preserve your own salsa recipe, a safe preservation method is freezing. This method will increase the wateriness when thawed. You can drain the tomatoes of excess juice prior to freezing to help reduce the liquid. The salsa may also be a little mushy when thawed but will still have a fresh-made flavor.

Canning untested recipes. The only way to can untested recipes is to use a pressure canner. Use the processing time for the ingredient that has the longest processing time. For example, processing a mixture of tomatoes, onions and peppers will be based on the onions because they have the longest process time. Do not pressure can garlic. It loses flavor and there are no recommended processing times.

Do not use open kettle canning. This method involves heating the food, then pouring into the jars and screwing on the lids. No further heat processing is done. This is not a safe canning method because bacteria, yeasts and mold can still be present and can lead to spoilage. 


Cindy Williams46 Posts

Cindy Williams is the Meadowlark Extension District agent in the areas of food and nutrition.


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