How to Make and Jar Salsa From Scratch
I love late summer and early fall when my garden is ready to harvest, and I get to reap the benefits of its bounty.
Each year, I raise tomatoes, usually Early Girls because they last for several months and are great for eating and cooking. I raise green peppers, jalapeno peppers, and banana peppers too. I love this combination of vegetables because I can put all of them in my salsa at the end of summer.
We love to eat salsa all year long, especially in the autumn and winter. Making homemade salsa can save you a lot of money if you eat or use a lot of it throughout the year like we do.
You can eat it with chips or add it to cheese for a zesty dip or put it in your favorite dishes for a little spice. One of our favorite dishes is hot pinto beans with homemade salsa mixed in, and another is using it in omelets. Delicious!
- Roma tomatoes
- Onions (sweet)
- Green Bell Pepper
- Yellow Bell Pepper
- Red Bell Pepper
- Orange Bell Pepper
- Jalapeno Peppers
- Banana Peppers
- Garlic Cloves
- Garlic Salt
- Garlic Powder
- Salt and Pepper
- White Vinegar
All Ingredients are Optional and to Taste
I love to cook to my family's tastes. You may find ingredients on my list that are not to your tastes - eliminate them or substitute them.
You may also like any type of meaty tomato or a different type of onion with a stronger flavor than a sweet onion. Go for it. It is hard to mess up salsa.
I like chunky salsa, so I barely touch my food processor button. If you like a thinner, restaurant style, hit that button for a few more seconds - longer if you want to liquify it.
Just have fun with it.
Making the Salsa
- Boil an extra-large pot of water.
- Place your tomatoes (15 – 20 lbs) in the sink with the stopper in place. Your sink should be three-fourth filled with tomatoes.
- Pour the boiling water over the tomatoes and add, if needed, hot tap water so tomatoes are completely covered. This process will cause your tomato skins to simply slide off. I let them set as I get other ingredients ready.
In the Extra-Large Pot You Used for Boiling Water:
- Chop two to four large onions – sweet and red (you may use any type of onion – just whatever meets your tastes).
- Chop a whole stalk of celery – more or less
- Slice 7-8 jalapeno peppers (I like medium to hot salsa, and the 7-8 jalapenos with seeds seem to be the right amount. If you like mild, take the seeds out.)
- Chop the red, orange, and yellow peppers.
- Chop the yellow zucchini.
- Slice 4 or 5 garlic gloves.
- Add a small jar of minced garlic (not dried).
- Chop a large bunch of cilantro (maybe two).
- Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and garlic salt to taste.
- Add ¼ - ½ cup of vinegar
- Place extra- large pot with vegetables next to sink of soaking tomatoes
- Start adding tomatoes. Slide the peelings off and place them in a plastic bag to be thrown away. The peelings will clog your garbage disposable and sink pipes – trust me, I learned the hard way. Slice the tomatoes into the pot.
- Periodically stir the pot of ingredients and continue to add the dry ingredients (salt, garlic salt, garlic pepper, etc) because they will weaken with the larger amount of ingredients.
- Once your pot is full, carefully take it to your stove and turn the stove to medium heat. You want it to simmer for at least 20 minutes. (Warning about glass top stoves: the acidity of the tomato juice will pit the glass. I keep a wet cloth lying next to my pot to catch drippings and a wet cloth to wipe any juice up immediately to prevent pitting.)
What Ingredients and Supplies Will You Need to Make Salsa?
If you want to make salsa you need tomatoes, a meaty type is best, like Romas; jalapeno peppers, green peppers; red, yellow, and orange peppers (provides flavor and visual appeal); sweet and red onions, banana peppers (sweet and/or spicy), cilantro, a stalk of celery, a yellow squash, garlic gloves, crushed garlic, garlic salt, garlic powder, black pepper, salt, and vinegar.
Many of the fruits, vegetables, and herbs can be grown in your own garden, but sometimes that is not possible so farmers’ markets and grocery stores are other great resources. I at least like to grow some of the above mentioned ingredients so I can say, “Hey, those tomatoes and peppers are from my garden.”
Along with the food ingredients, you will need these supplies:
- one extra large pot, 24 -36 pint jars (or you can use quart jars which would take fewer) with new lids and the equal amount of screw tops to go over the lids
- a wide mouthed funnel to fit into the jars
- a wet towel to lay alongside your pan to cut down on the mess. especially if you have a glass-top stove -- hot tomato juice can pit your glass.
- either a ladle or large spoon and a spoon that allows the juice to drain as you dip the salsa into the jars.
- a clean wet wash cloth to wipe the tops of the jars off before placing the lid on top.
I am not the type of cook who does a lot of measuring, but as I take you through the steps of making salsa, I will give you some estimated measurements. It really is a recipe that can be tailored to your taste, though.
Also, I save a little time on the day I make the salsa by chopping up my peppers and flash freezing them (placing them as flat as possible on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper and putting them in the freezer for a couple of hours or even overnight) then storing them in an airtight bag to be placed back in the freezer.
The pepper plants are producing all summer, and it is nice to have them already chopped up when it is time to make the salsa, plus you have them in your freezer to use in other recipes all year long.
How to Prepare the Jars and Lids for Canning Salsa
I like to use pint and quart jars with the regular opening. These can be bought in most grocery stores and sometime hardware stores.
You will also need the lids that can only be used once. Place these lids in a small pot of water and let it come to a boil then turn it to low. Heating the lids will allow the rubber to soften so they will seal better as the jars cool.
Make sure your jar rims are clean and line up about 24 – 30 of them next to your stove where your salsa is simmering.
Steps to Pouring the Salsa into the Jars
- Place the funnel into a jar.
- Use the large draining spoon to dip the hot salsa into the jar until it reaches the bottom of the rimmed part of the jar.
- If needed, use the ladle or the large spoon to add juice to the jar.
- Take the funnel out and place it in another clean jar.
- Wipe the rim of the jar with the clean wet cloth making sure that all residue is wiped off.
- Use a wooden spoon to dip the lids out of the small pan of hot water.
- Place the lid on top of the jar.
- Place the screw top on top of the jar over the lid. You may want to use a rubber jar opener and an oven mitten to protect your hands from the heat of the jar with hot salsa. Make sure the lids are screwed on tight.
- Repeat above steps until all salsa is jarred.
Tips for Handling Jalapeno Peppers
A tip on handling hot peppers like jalapenos:
- Wash them the night before you are going to handle them.
- Make sure they are completely dry.
- Before slicing, make sure your hands are completely dry – the water activates the oil in the pepper that causes it to stay on your hands and burn. By following this tip, you should have a good experience with your peppers, rather than burning hands and possibly other burning parts, like your eyes when you unthinkingly touch them while your hands are on fire.
Tips for Getting Jalapeno Juice (Oil) Off Your Skin
A tip for curing hands with hot pepper oil on them is to first remember you are dealing with oil, not juice. Do not get your oil covered hands wet or the oil will be sealed in and you will be burning for up to a day. Use Dawn liquid dish soap and salt to rub on the areas that burn. Once you have rubbed the salt/soap mixture over your hands for a few minutes, place them under water to rinse. If you do not have Dawn liquid soap, try soaking your hands in a large bowl of cold milk.
Once all Jars are Filled
Place all jars together. As they cool, the lids will be sucked in and will seal the jars. You will probably hear them pop. The next day I push my finger in the middle of each lid. If it has no “give,” it is sealed. If it pops back, I immediately put that jar or those jars in the refrigerator and use them first. Rarely does this happen though. If it does, it is usually just one jar that I did not have the screw lid tightened enough.
I store all the jars in my pantry or cabinets. I keep a place just for them. When my family finishes a jar of salsa, the jar is washed and placed in the same spot of the pantry or cabinet. You cannot reuse the lids, so just throw them away. The jars and screw lids need to be stored for next year’s batch.
Now I have a delicious treat or cooking ingredient or cure for the cold on hand all year long. ENJOY!
Salsa Juice Has Many Uses
I love to save the juice to cook with because it is seasoned and it stores as well as the salsa. So, using the same technique for jarring the salsa, I pour the juice into jars, too. The juice is also great for sore throats. In my opinion, it is a miracle juice when it comes to sore throats and colds because all these vegetables are packed with vitamin C. It also works well to flavor and spice of foods like chili or taco meat. Plus, if you simply like to drink it, you will have it on hand.
© 2011 Susan Holland