September 12, 2011

Canning Salsa with Grandma!

I don't think it's any secret how much I love my grandma. She's inspired so many recipes on this site - a lot of which are her recipes only veganized. So obviously I jumped at the chance for a lesson in canning! My grandma cans salsa every year. My Grandpa and her always have the biggest tomato plants. They grow them in this special container that knows the exact amount of water it needs. I don't even know what it's called, but it works. Their plants always produce the biggest, juiciest tomatoes!

Their tomatoes are always at their peak between late August and early September - so I knew she's be canning salsa somewhere around this time - so I called her and asked if I could help! I had never canned before and just like making my own jam, I assumed it was this long, hard process that involved all these complicated things to even do it. I was so wrong! They're are a few steps and you do need the right equipment, but it's so simple - and so worth it!

  • 1 large canning pot (You can find these from anywhere between $30 - $50)
  • 1 canning rack (These are pretty inexpensive. Most are less than $10)
  • Pint (or smaller) canning jars - sanitized (This recipe makes 5-6 pints, but you could use smaller jars!)
  • Canning lids and rings
  • Ladle or Measuring cup (to pour the salsa into the jars)
  • 1 large pot (for boiling the tomatoes and cooking the salsa)
  • 1 medium pot (for boiling the lids)
  • 1 large bowl of ice water (for removing tomato skins)
  • Optional Supplies: Jar Grabber, Magnetic Lid Lifter, Funnel
  • 10 medium-large tomatoes
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 large onion (any color you have on hand is fine!)
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp cayenne pepper (use 1/2 a teaspoon for mild and taste test for heat level after that)
  • 12 oz can of tomato paste

Place your lids and jars in a medium sized pot. This sanitizes the lids and helps in getting the rubber part of the lids to seal onto the jars. Boil for 15 minutes. To sanitize your canning jars you can run them through your dishwasher's sanitize cycle - or boil them in a large pot for 7-10 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Drop in the tomatoes one at a time and boil for 1 minute to remove the skins. After the skins are beginning to peel away, plunge the tomatoes into the bowl of ice water. This should make the tomatoes easier to peel and easier to handle once cooled. My grandma didn't even use a bowl of ice water. She just dumped them in the strainer and peeled (and cored the under ripe ones) while they were still hot. It didn't look very fun - so I would suggest using an ice bath!

After you've peeled the skins off of the tomatoes - cut them in half to remove the seeds and any tomatoes that have a rough core. You can do this easily with a spoon, paring knife, or even your finger! Once drained and seeded - dice the tomatoes. Once the tomatoes are diced, place them in the same pot you used to boil them in. No need to dirty another dish! Then dice your bell peppers and onion and add to the tomatoes. Add the garlic powder, salt, cayenne, and tomato past and mix thoroughly. Cook over medium high heat until the peppers have cook through and softened.

Once the salsa is done cooking - start filling your jars to 1/4 inch from the top. Place the lid on top and tighten the ring to close. To ensure you will have a good seal *make sure the tops of your jars don't have any chips and the underside of the lids and rings and the tops of the jars don't have any food stuck to them.*

Fill your canning pot with water and place the canning rack inside. Heat over high heat and once it's come to a boil, place the jars inside the canning rack. Lower the canning rack into the water and  boil the jars for 30 minutes for pints and 40 minutes for quarts.

Once the salsa is done boiling, remove from the canning pot and allow to cool. Try not to bump or hit them. This may cause the jars to "unseal". My grandma said a good tip to ensure a good sealing is to tip the jars upside down after boiling. The heat from the salsa reaches the lid and makes the seal even better. Allow to sit until the jars are cool to the touch - possibly overnight. Once the jars are cool, make sure the lids have sealed. Press on the lids with your finger. If the lids pop up and down, the jars have not sealed properly. If it doesn't do anything, then the lids have been sucked down and the jars have been sealed. The salsa should keep in a cool, dry place for about a year! It's so nice to have the fresh taste of summer in the middle of winter. I can't wait to try canning more things. I'm definitely thinking of pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, and peaches!


  1. Wow, what a great post! Tomatoes, a canning how to, and some grandma love!! I just did a big post today on canning diced tomatoes. So far this year I've done diced tomatoes, pasta sauce, and roasted tomatoes... But I still have a lot of tomatoes coming down the pipeline, and I was thinking some salsa would be fun.. I've never canned salsa before I'm so stoked for your grandma's recipe and this awesome how to! Thanks!

  2. I canned salsa this year, and it was not at all thick enough - more like soup than salsa. I'm bookmarking your recipe for next year...