Please read the safety note at the end of this post before deciding to make this salsa recipe.  If you’re looking to make salsa for dinner (i.e. not can it), check out our best ever fresh salsa recipe.

Last week I promised 3 salsa recipes and then only published two: one for salsa verde (with green tomatoes instead of tomatillos) and a recipe for picalilli/ chow chow.  We ran into some problems with our pictures (it’s tough to take pictures of red sauce) but managed to re-shoot them on the weekend.


This recipe uses tomato paste to thicken the sauce at the last minute.  Homemade salsa is notorious for being liquidy and ‘saucy’ compared to it’s commercial counterpart.  While there’s still a considerable amount of tomato-water in the salsa, I will either eat it as is or strain it after opening and use the leftover tomato water for cooking rice, stir fry or adding to tomato sauce.  On days when I have the time, I will open a jar, strain it, and boil the liquid until it is a thick paste (there will be less than a tablespoon od if) and I will add it back to the salsa; this will increase the tomato flavor while also removing the extra sauce (thanks to Kaela and LocalKitchen for the idea!)

You can reduce (or omit) the hot peppers in this recipe; I think most would consider if very hot (although true chile heads would disagree).  I plan to eat it with tacos, on eggs and with the occasional nacho chip (there are some things I simply can’t resist!)



  • 10 cups roughly chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups chopped and seeded bell peppers
  • 5 cups finely chopped onions (about 5 onions)
  • 8 jalapenos (remove the top but keep the seeds and pith), finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups cider vinegar
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 (6  ounce) can tomato paste


  1. Mix all vegetables and salt together.  Place them in a strainer/ colander and rest over a large bowl.  This will help drain the tomato water from the flesh of the tomatoes and make for better texture with your salsa.
  2. Cover loosely and sit in warm spot in your kitchen for 3-6 hours.  
  3. Prepare canner (large pot of water which will cover the jars by at least 1 inch), heat jar seals and sterilize jars (in boiling water for 10 minutes).
  4. Simmer the tomato water (that’s the liquid that’s in the bowl under the colander) for 5 minutes to slightly thicken it.
  5. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes (i.e. everything is now in the pot); you’re ready to start canning!
  6. Add veggies to jars using a slotted spoon.  Use a regular spoon to cover the solids with liquid – be sure to leave 1/2 inch head space.  You will likely have extra brine; which is better than running out.
  7. Wipe rims, apply seals and rings and place in waterbath and process (boil) for 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from waterbath, allow to cool for 24 hours and check lids for proper seal.


In 5 years of sharing recipes, I’ve avoided posting salsa recipes on WellPreserved.  The main reason is simple: salsa includes a lot of low-acid ingredients and requires a delicate balance to ensure safety.  As I’ve written before, I think there are many problems around food bloggers (like myself) claiming to be food safety experts.  I am not a food scientist and what I feel comfortable/ safe eating, may not be the same for you.  Today’s recipe was based on a source I chose to trust ( though modified slightly based on my non-scientific experience.  At time of publishing, my personal source for tested tomato and salsa recipes is the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning Guide 3 Selecting, Preparing and Canning Tomatoes and Tomato Products.  We eat every recipe we post and share it with that in mind.

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