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Canning Tomato-Based Salsa

Is it safe to can an uncooked salsa using a boiling-water canning process? The ingredients are tomatoes, onions, garlic, serrano peppers and cilantro. The canning recipes I've seen all call for cooking the tomatoes first.

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  1. It's safe but since you have some non-acidic ingredients in there you must be careful about the exact proportions of the ingredients. Every approved recipe for salsa in a BWB that I've seen calls for either lemon juice or vinegar. I suggest you take a look at the Ball canning site, the Mrs. Survival site (preserving the harvest forum) or the University of Georgia website. All will have approved recipes.

    1. The safest method would be to use a tested recipe. The University of Georgia's National Center for Home Food Preservation is the leading expert source for canning info and tested recipes along with the Ball Blue Book.



      1. I just got Ball's "Complete Book of Home Preserving" from the library. It looks like if I'm adding other vegetables to the tomatoes, the pressure canning method is required.

        2 Replies
        1. re: CindyJ

          Absolutely right. It is the onions, peppers and cliantro that will get you in trouble. Adding lemon (not Meyer) and/or vinegar is for tomatoes alone. The rest need pressure cooking.

          1. re: The Old Gal

            so would it be safe to just "cook" the veggies but not the tomatoes but still add lemon juice to the toms? then give everything a warm water bath for 10min or so? also is lime juice just as good as lemon and or vinegar???

        2. Bernardin's recipes do not require pressure cooking - in fact I made a vegetable antipasto last night. But I have never seen a recipe that allows raw veggies. My recipes all call for a bit of cooking - the antipasto called for 5 minutes (so parcooking) and I processed in water bath for 20 minutes. I have an excellent salsa recipe, but again, it is cooked before processing.

          1. But ... but ... salsa is so much better fresh! Especially with such an "iffy" problem in front of you, why can what you can make fresh so easily?

            2 Replies
            1. re: wayne keyser

              Of course it is better when fresh but tomatoes don't grow 12 months a year, in my part of the world. Rather than buy the tasteless tomatoes delivered from thousands of miles away, I prefer to make it when they are in season and enjoy it in the off season.

              1. re: wayne keyser

                I'm totally with you on that, and I DO make my salsa fresh. But when the salsa includes tomatoes, nothing beats the taste of fresh, farm-grown tomatoes that are only available in the summer. In fact, a tomato frenzy seems to have overtaken me in the past couple of weeks. I just can't get enough of them. I go through this every year ... and I start thinking about how to have farm-fresh tomatoes in the dead of winter. Or maybe it's SUMMER that I want to preserve! Anybody have a recipe for that?

              2. I think I'm convinced now that I need a pressure canner, and I do believe that if I had one, I'd really make good use of it. But I've tricked myself into believing such things before about kitchen "investments." Now I've got a shelf in my garage filled with lonely, unused "must-haves" that include a bread machine, a pizza stone and an ice cream maker. Makes me wonder if there's a place where I can rent a pressure canner, try it out, see if it's something I'm likely to use again.

                2 Replies
                1. re: CindyJ

                  you mean i don't need an ice cream maker?

                  i am canning uncooked tomatoes now and i think i may do an experiment with fresh chopped tomatoes with garlic, lemon and lime juice (a salsa base, if you will) canned as my whole uncooked tomatoes.
                  do you think if i coarsely chop tomatoes without removing the skins i will end up with many floating bits of skin?

                  1. re: bellybuster

                    I used to never peel my tomatoes. The skins curl up into tiny little tubes and you hardly notice them. They don't float.

                2. You CAN use the boiling water bath to can tomato-based salsas and sauces that include other veggies- but you really need to have the correct proportions, and added lemon juice.

                  The problem with canning an uncooked salsa/sauce is that the point of the canning is to heat the entire product to a specific temperature, both to create a vaccuum seal, AND to heat up any micro-organisms to death (so they don't kill you later). So canning raw products is difficult, if only because you would have to boil so much longer to bring it all up to temp- ergo, raw-packing pretty much requires a pressure cooker.

                  1. I have put up raw salsas before using only a boiling water bath. Treat them like cold packed raw tomatoes, that is, you'll need to process a quart for 45 minutes, a pint size somewhat less. As far as I can tell, the long process time essentially cooks the sauce in the jar, rather than cooking it in a pan first, then placing it in a jar. Since you're making salsa, you need some acid for taste, whether citrus or vinegar, which aids in preservation. As long as your jar seals afterwards (which should be no problem), it should be fine.