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Canning Salsa at Home

When you home-bottle salsa, you want to use a recipe that has been scientifically tested and found safe from microorganism growth.  Because salsas combine low acid foods (i.e., onions, peppers, etc.) with semi-acid foods (i.e. tomatoes), it is critical to make sure the recipe we are using has enough acidity to counterbalance the low-acid products.  It is not recommended to home-can your favorite salsa, unless it is from an approved source.
When making salsas from an approved source, the only changes you can safely make are:
1.    Substitute bottled lemon or bottled lime juice for vinegar in the approved recipe.  Some people don’t like the taste of vinegar.  If you prefer a milder tasting acid, use bottled lemon juice.  However, because lemon juice (citric acid) is a stronger acid than vinegar (acetic acid), you cannot substitute vinegar in a recipe that calls for lemon juice. Make sure to use bottled lemon juice as it has a consistent pH level, and fresh lemons vary in acidity from lemon to lemon.
2.    Change the types of dried spices and herbs, but keep the amounts the same.
3.    Reduce the number of hot peppers, but proportionally increase the number of sweet peppers and onions.  For example, if your recipe calls for 1/4 cup of hot peppers, but you prefer mild salsa, reduce to 1/8 cup of hot peppers and add an additional 1/8 cup of sweet peppers to the recipe.

DO NOT . . .

·         Do not use a recipe that is from a friend of a friend of a friend or from your favorite relative...unless it has been tested or is from an approved source!  There are many delicious salsa recipes in the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning (available at and in the Ball Blue Book (available at  then click on Recipes and Salsas).

·         Do not change the thickness by adding more vegetables or tomatoes than the recipe calls for.

·         Do not change the thickness by adding cornstarch, flour, clear jel, etc.

·         Do not forget to add the acid (lemon juice or vinegar)

What if I have a favorite salsa recipe?

A.    Make it and eat it fresh!  This is how you like it, so enjoy it this way!

B.    Make it and freeze it in small containers.  Leave a 1/4 inch head-space and tightly close.  It will last in your freezer for 3 to 5 months, perhaps longer.
Try our USU Extension Generic Salsa Recipe.  Amounts are per jar, so increase amount proportionally to do one full batch (9 pints).

Canning Salsa in a Boling Water Canner
Generic Recipe
Brian A. Nummer, Ph.D., Extension Food Safety Specialist, Utah State University
Guideline Salsa Recipe ~ per pint jar (multiply quantities by desired yield)

·         1/4 cup bottled lemon or lime juice (60 ml)

·         1 cup tomatoes
        - peeled, deseeded if desired
- diced, to approx. 1/4”
        - cook tomato juice and reduce volume by half for a thicker salsa

·         1 cup any combination of:
        - onions
- sweet and hot peppers, diced to approx. 1/4”
- hot pepper seeds (heat)

·         Optional – 1 tsp. dry spices (salt, cumin, pepper, garlic powder, or any mixture of dry spices)
Procedure:  Peel tomatoes by placing them in boiling water for approximately 1 minute or until skins loosen.  Plunge in cold water, then peel skins and discard them.  Remove onion skins and discard them.  Trim and wash peppers.  Retain hot pepper seeds for desired heat level.  Dice all vegetables to approximately 1/4” cubes.  Caution:  Wear plastic or rubber gloves and do not touch your face while handling, or cutting hot peppers.  If you do not wear gloves, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face or eyes.

Hot pack:  Combine vegetable ingredients in a sauce pan.  Add salt and up to 1 tsp. (total) of dry spice as desired.  Heat salsa to boiling, stirring constantly.  Pour 1/4 cup bottled lemon or lime juice into each clean pint canning jar.  Add hot salsa leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Attach two-piece canning lid.  Invert jar several times to mix salsa and lemon/lime juice.  In a boiling water bath process pints or half pints for 15 minutes (altitudes 0-1,000 ft), 20 minutes (altitudes 1,001-6,000 feet, includes Juab County), or 25 minutes (altitudes 6,001+ feet).
Important:  This recipe was designed to use 1/4 cup bottled lemon or lime juice per pint salsa.  Do not use fresh squeezed juice or vinegar or alter this acidification procedure.  Doing so may not safely acidify the salsa resulting in a risk of botulism.  This recipe can be personalized by altering the proportion of peppers (sweet or hot) and onions.  Different varieties of onions or peppers (sweet or hot) can be used.  It can also be personalized using a total of 1 tsp. of dried spices.  Some suggested dry spices to add are cumin, garlic powder, celery seeds, and coriander.  Other vegetable or herbs (not dried) are not permitted.

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