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Canning Tomato Salsa: A Labor of Love

Posted by Sara on Jun 3, 2016


It's almost that time again! I'm referring to the art of making summer last throughout the fall and winter months. I don't have any magic tricks up my sleeve to accomplish this task… just some peak-of-season veggies and fruits, a few glass jars and a pot of boiling water. Let's get ready to can, people!

In this blog I am going to teach you how to make homemade tomato salsa. This salsa is better than any store-bought salsa. Period. I call this recipe a labor of love because there is a lot of roasting and chopping involved, but the recipe makes 5 pints of salsa, which will last you a long time.

salsa jar

The first step in this venture is to understand proper canning techniques, so your food stays safe and sound on your shelves for months to come.

How to Safely Can Your Vegetables and Fruit

  1. Wash the jars and tops with hot soapy water. You can reuse the same jars over and over again, but you should always use new lids and bands. They are very easy to find at your local hardware store.
  2. Be sure that the jars are hot before you fill them or else they might crack. I like to pop my jars in a 200° oven for about 5 minutes to ensure they are hot.
  3. Ladle in your cooked ingredients. Use a canning funnel to make your life easier.
  4. Wipe the rims with a clean, damp cloth before putting on the lids. Secure the lids tightly by hand.
  5. Set a wire rack in a deep pot that’s half filled with water, and put the pot over high heat. When the water is almost boiling, place the jars on the rack in the bottom of the pot. Add more hot water if needed to cover the jars by 2-inches. Bring the water to a full boil. Keep it boiling for the amount of time indicated in your recipe, usually 10 to 20 minutes.
  6. When the time is up, carefully remove the jars (a pair of tongs comes in handy here!). Set them on a dry towel and let them cool, undisturbed, for 12 hours.
  7. After the jars have cooled, gently remove the screw bands and test the seals by lifting the jar by its lid.
  8. Store the sealed jars in a cool, dry place. Any jars that fail to seal should be stored in the refrigerator and used within a few days.

Now that you have all of the fundamental steps of canning down, you just need your fresh veggies, herbs and spices to make this recipe.

Tomato Salsa

Yield: 5 pint jars

Active time: 45 minutes

Start to finish: 1 hour

1 pound poblano peppers

5 pounds ripe tomatoes

3 jalapeños, seeded and cut into small dice

1 1/2 cups white or yellow onion, medium dice

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, rough chopped

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar to taste

  1. Bring a large, deep pot of water to a boil.
  2. Wash your jars with hot, soapy water. Sanitize the jars by setting them in the boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove and set on a clean, dry towel to dry. Alternatively, you can sanitize jars by placing them in a 350° oven for 10 minutes or more.
  3. Place the lid pieces in the canning pot. You can leave them there until ready to use. This will sanitize them and make the rubber rings more malleable, so you get an extra tight seal.
  4. Roast the poblano peppers directly over your gas burner until charred on all sides. Transfer the peppers to a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the peppers to steam for about 15 minutes, and then remove the blackened skins. Tip: If you don’t have a gas stove top you can easily roast peppers under your broiler.
  5. Remove the stems and seeds, and cut the peppers into medium dice. You should have about 1 cup of peppers. Place them in a large saucepan.
  6. Preheat the broiler to high.
  7. Core the tomatoes, and cut them in half lengthwise. Place them, cut side down, on a sheet tray. Broil the tomatoes until the skins are starting to blacken. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool. Once the tomatoes are cool, remove the skins.
  8. Roughly chop the tomatoes on a cutting board with a juice groove, making sure you save all of the juices. You should end up with about 8 cups of chopped tomatoes and juices. Transfer the tomatoes to the saucepan with the peppers.
  9. Add the jalapeños, onions, garlic, apple cider vinegar, cilantro, oregano, cumin and salt.
  10. Bring the salsa ingredients to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Add sugar to taste, which will depend on the sweetness of your tomatoes. Taste the salsa for seasoning, and add more salt and/or vinegar as needed.
  11. Using an immersion blender, pulse the salsa just a few times to create a slightly thicker, smoother consistency.
  12. Ladle the mixture into the prepared jars, leaving about 1/2 inch of headroom at the top.
  13. Wipe the jar rims and threads clean with a damp towel, and tightly screw on the 2-piece lids.
  14. Carefully set the jars in the pot of hot water, cover, and bring to a boil. Process for 15 minutes.

Here are some tips and suggestions for making this salsa:

You may or may not be able to find poblano peppers at your local farmers market, but they are very easily found at every grocery store. In this recipe we roast the poblanos over an open flame, giving them a deep, smoky flavor.


Watch The Chopping Block's Owner/Chef Shelley Young roast a pepper in this video:

I know it's a little early for fresh tomatoes, but they will be popping up at your farmers market before we know it. You can use any type of fresh tomato that looks good to you. Heck! You can even use a variety of tomatoes. You'll broil your tomatoes until blackened, making it easy to then remove the skins. This step improves the texture of the salsa. Be prepared to add some sugar to the recipe to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.


tomatoes charredAs far as cumin goes, I like to buy whole seeds and then grind them in a mortar and pestle. This may not be convenient for everyone, so in that case just be sure the ground cumin you have on hand is fresh. If it's been sitting in your drawer for over a year, go grab some fresh stuff. You can find it for a great price at any Mexican market.

salsa ingredientsAfter my salsa has cooked, I like to use an immersion blender to smooth it out a bit. If you don't have an immersion blender then pulse the salsa in a blender until you have the desired consistency. Just be careful when you blend hot ingredients!

If you want to see the canning process in action then you should attend one of The Chopping Block's Summer Canning and Preserving classes this summer! You'll find the first canning classes available on our July calendars (just released today!) at our Lincoln Square location. Not only will you pick up lots of tips and techniques, but you'll also receive other fantastic recipes that will surely inspire you to can all summer long.

View our calendars

Topics: salsa, canning

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