The Salsa Lover’s Guide to Making Your Own Salsa Jars
How To Preserve Homemade Salsa
Canning is a popular way to keep fresh foods from spoiling. It takes cooking to the next level, using high heat to prevent the natural spoiling process of foods inside a closed glass jar. The canning process also removes air from the jar, creating a seal to preserve the food contained inside. You can hang on to the taste of the garden long after summer ends. Tomato salsa is just one recipe you can make to preserve your summer tomatoes long after the season ends.
Jarring your own salsa is a great way to use the fresh vegetables from your summer garden. Salsa makes a perfect snack all year around and a homemade jar of salsa makes a great gift to give to friends and family. If you’ve never before made salsa at home, now is a great time to learn how easy it can be!
Basics of Canning
Canning has been a method of food preservation for centuries. There are many different ways to can fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the summer and keep them fresh to enjoy during the rest of the year. Creating your own homemade salsa is a lovely way to combine the freshest vegetables and herbs as they come out of your garden.
Before you begin jarring your own salsa, there are some canning terms you should become familiar with so you better understand the recipe you are using. The following terms will likely be used in a salsa recipe:
Band – this refers to the metal threaded band which is placed over the jar’s lid to secure the ingredients inside your jar.
Water Bath Process – this is the process of using a large pot filled with boiling water to process the filled jars of salsa. The pot must be big enough to immerse jars completely.
Headspace – this term refers to the area of space left unfilled by salsa between the rim and the top of the jar.
Canning Lid – the lid is a flat piece of metal which is vacuum sealed during the canning process. It works in conjunction with the band.
Processing – this term involves the process of sterilizing canning jars and the salsa during the water bath process which will kill off bacteria to prevent spoilage of the food.
There are two methods for canning foods. The first one, the water bath, is perfect for foods with high acid levels. Water baths are good for foods like jelly, jam, pickles, sauces, fruits, and salsa.
Pressure canning is useful for preserving meats, seafood, and certain vegetables. Pressure canning heats the foods inside the jar to 240 degrees Fahrenheit to kill off any food-borne bacteria which can make people sick. When making canning recipes which contain both high and low acidic foods, pressure canning is the recommended method.
Beginners Canning Tips
Canning can seem overwhelming to first-timers but with a little experience and a lot of patience, you can master the art of canning in no time. Beyond salsa, there are plenty of things you can jar. Start with simple recipes, like this one for salsa, then grow your adventurous side as you learn to perfect the techniques.
- Choose canning jars which can be properly sealed with a metal lid and band combination. It is highly recommended you use new lids for each different canning process to ensure the seal will be strong.
- Additional kitchen utensils are also necessary throughout the canning process including a wooden spoon, a funnel for pouring, and a ladle.
- Use a canning jar lifter or a strong pair of tongs to remove hot jars from the water bath.
- Keep plenty of clean towels and oven mitts for use when handling hot jars.
- Foods to be preserved should also be of the freshest quality.
- Read and follow canning recipes carefully to make sure jars are prepared correctly.
- Assemble all tools and ingredients before beginning the canning process. Time and efficiency are important during the preservation of foods.
- Do not use recipes that haven’t been tested for safe canning to ensure food does not spoil.
- Do not use tomatoes or other vegetables which are past their prime. Canning should not be used as a way to get rid of old, overripe produce. Using these products can cause food to become unsafe for eating.
Creating Your Own Salsa
To get started on your fresh, homemade salsa, start by gathering your ingredients. It is wise to prepare your workspace so the process goes efficiently. Clear plenty of counter space for jars of salsa to cool down and have your fresh ingredients chopped and ready to pour into the pot. Jars can be sterilized in boiling water or using the sanitize option on your dishwasher before you start cooking the salsa ingredients.
- 8 pint jars with lids and bands
- Tomatoes – 15 pounds (Roma or Beefsteak are recommended)
- 3 cups onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 green peppers (substitute jalapeno peppers for extra zing), chopped
- 2 – 12 ounce cans tomato paste
- 3 tbs cilantro, chopped
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tbs sugar
- Start a pot of water heating on the stove. This is for your lids and jars which must be kept warm prior to canning. Empty jars and lids (not the bands) can be placed in two inches of hot, simmering water until needed. Keep the pot simmering but not boiling or the seal of the lids may be ruined.
- Prepare tomatoes by removing skins. Fill a saucepot with water and set it to boil. Place 4-5 tomatoes into the boiling water at one time. Set a time for 45 seconds then remove tomatoes and place in a bowl of ice water. Allow to cool for a few seconds then peel off skins. Next, cut tomatoes in half and squeeze each half into a bowl to remove excess juice and seeds. Continue skinning and removing seeds on all tomatoes then cut into chunks.
- Add tomato chunks to a large saucepot and toss in onions, garlic, peppers, and the other ingredients. Mix well then simmer salsa for 30 minutes. This is a good time to do a taste test to make sure you’ve seasoned your salsa to your liking. Thick salsa can be thinned with leftover tomato juice (strain seeds out first). Thin salsa can be thickened with additional tomato paste.
- Remove heated jars from pot and place them gently on a clean towel. Fill jars with salsa mixture, leaving 1/4 inch headspace in each one. Use another clean towel to wipe off jars and any spills on the rim. A clean jar rim is necessary for a proper seal.
- Remove one lid at a time from the hot water and dry it quickly. Place lid on the top of the jar, holding it in place with your finger. Screw on the band making sure it is tight.
- Once all of the jars have been filled and closed, replace all of the jars into the pot filled with boiling water. Place lid on the top of the pot. Set heat to medium. When water begins to boil, set timer for 15 minutes.
- Turn off heat and remove pot lid. Allow the jars to set for 5 minutes. Use a jar lifter or a pair of tongs to remove the jars from the pot, returning them to the towel. Leave adequate space between jars to allow for proper cooling. Do not touch jars until cooled to avoid disrupting the seal.
- Jars will begin to seal as they cool. A noticeable popping sound can be heard when a lid seals.
- Allow 24 hours before testing jar seals. Press on the center of the lid to ensure it does not move up and down. Remove the band and gently try to lift the lid. If it does not move, the seal is good.
- Unsealed jars can be reprocessed following the directions above. Use a new lid when resealing the jars.
Store jars in a cool place.
Does Homemade Salsa Need to be Refrigerated?
Once a salsa jar has been opened, keep it in the refrigerator. The shelf life of homemade jarred salsa is approximately 12-18 months if processed correctly. Regularly check seals to be sure they are still intact.
Choosing Your Salsa Jars
Jarring your own salsa is a great way to stock up on gifts for friends and family who like to eat. They are perfect for housewarming parties, summer cookouts, or even a date night with someone you love. When choosing a jar for your salsa project, consider the basic pint jar or even something a little more creative.
To make your salsa creation extra special, print unique labels at home to attach to your salsa jars. Be sure to note the jars contain salsa. You may also want to include the ingredients used in your recipe and the date the salsa was made. Don’t forget to add your own name to the label so everyone will know who created the delicious homemade salsa jar!
When giving as gifts, consider adding a little extra style to your salsa jars. In addition to a colorful label, top the lids with a square of burlap or ribbon. Dress up the salsa jars in a number of ways to make an easy-to-give gift people will appreciate.
Taking Your Salsa to the Next Level
If you have gained experience perfecting your own salsa recipe, maybe it’s time to take it to a new level. For those who truly love the canning process, it may be time to start your own line of salsa for sale. There are many places you can sell your homemade salsa jars in your own community and maybe even take it further – to bigger markets.
Always check with local and federal laws regarding food preparation in your home. There are guidelines to be followed if you want to get serious about your salsa making. After navigating through the rules, you can create small batches of salsa for sale at local farmer’s markets, small independent retail and grocery stores, and even through online sales.
If this is something you’ve been considering, start sourcing your fresh ingredients now. Maintaining your own garden may be the most cost-effective way to grow and use the freshest vegetables possible in every batch of salsa. Growing your own tomatoes, cilantro, peppers, herbs, spices, and onions will make every jar of salsa extra special.
There are plenty of other wonderful canning recipes for salsa available to try as you get more comfortable with the process. bottlestore.com offers a wide variety of canning jars and lids to accommodate your canning supply list. Remember it is okay to use the bands and the glass jars over and over but always use new lids to ensure a high-quality seal. Enjoy your time in the kitchen and the delicious jars of salsa you’ve created!