Saturday, September 27, 2014

How to Preserve Salsa {Summer in a Jar} + Canning Tips from a Home-Cook

Chop 65 onions, 300 cloves of garlic, 457 hot peppers and then imagine the heat that permeates into the skin and will. not. leave. your hands. However! Fear not, friends - my hands have finally returned to a normal state of being after burning for a full six hours straight and now salsa is put up for the Winter (super score). Beware! Canning is not for the faint of heart. It's hot. It's steamy. Water bubbles over. Hot peppers burn into your skin. Eyes water. EVERYTHING is hot. Fingertips are deadened by the time you're done boiling the salsa, pouring the boiling salsa into jars that just came out of the dishwasher scalding hot, tightening caps, then dipping those burning hot jars into a cauldron of water dangerously close to bubbling over. Not to mention the temperature outside is probably about mid-80's when you're undertaking a canning sesh. Glass busts. The sweat that pores from the brow. Dam - no wonder more people buy salsa at the store - except that salsa from the store sucks! There, I said it. And I mean it. Not. Taking. It. Back. 

All of this came from my CSA. How seriously fantastic is that??!?!? Oh, wait - except for the limes. Limes don't grow in Minnesota. One more backpedal - onions are from my Dad's garden. Two more backpedals - garlic is from Gary Garlic - that man knows garlic. 
 A couple REALLY IMPORTANT canning tips my mama taught me:

  1. DO NOT tighten your caps - give them one or two loose turns onto the jar, otherwise pressure is going to build up in the jar and it will bust. Believe me - I know - salsa in boiling hot water bath - mmmmm. 
  2. Everything must be hot to prevent growth of bacteria - caps (seen in boiling hot water above), jars (run them through the dishwasher right before you are ready to use them), ingredients, water bath - all HOT AS HE**. You get the picture. 
  3. Normal people probably use a rack in the bottom of their hot water bath - my mom and I use a simple kitchen towel. I hate gadgets and kitchen clutter - do you know that about me yet? 
  4. Caps and Jars should have NO RESIDUE on them - pristinely clean to prevent bacteria growth and ensure a nice seal when the jars come out of the hot water bath. 
  5. One tool you CANNOT live without while canning. Another tool you CAN live without, but makes the process a little cleaner. 
  6. Remember why you are slaving away - to provide a healthier future for the people you love. 

After you're done with a good hour-long chopping session (think: free therapy) you boil the salsa for 30 minutes on the stove top. This photo is before the boiling. So fresh. Then it's on to the hot boiling madness, but hey - come January you'll thank me. 
Tell me... What are your best canning tips? 


How to Preserve Salsa {Summer in a Jar}
recipe adapted from Ball website

Yield: 12 pints

10 cups chopped tomatoes (about 25-30 tomatoes)
5 cups chopped onion (about 6-8 medium onions)
2 cups chopped, seeded bell peppers (about 3 large peppers)
4 cups chopped, seeded hot chili peppers - jalepeƱo, Hungarian hot wax (7-9 jalepeƱos, 4-6 hot wax)
3-4 large cloves peeled, crushed garlic
1 large bundle of cilantro, chopped
1 heaping tablespoon kosher salt
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Place all ingredients in a stainless steel or ceramic coated kettle and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Meanwhile, prepare jars and lids by running through the dishwasher. Have them good and hot when it's time to pour in the ingredients. 

Bring a large, deep covered kettle of water to a rolling boil on the stovetop. 

When salsa is done simmering, place a wide funnel over one of the jars and ladle salsa into hot jars, leaving 1/2" of headspace.  Repeat with remaining jars. IMPORTANT: Place cap on jar and slightly tighten lid - leave lids loose to relieve pressure in the jars or you're going to have a hot mess blow up in your water bath.  

Place a rack or towel in the bottom of your water bath. Using a jar-lifter lower jars into boiling water and boil for 30 minutes. Remove jars with your jar-lifter, place on a towel-lined countertop and allow to come to room temperature. 

You want to hear popping or sealing noises coming from the jars - this means you did good and the jars are sealing properly. If a jar doesn't seal properly you'll know because the top will depress and will not have a shelf life - you need to eat it now!

One year shelf life.
**This post includes affiliate links so that I can afford and entertain you with more canning adventures. 


  1. Great tips for jarring! Never ventured into that direction, but was looking for a challenge/ new thing to do, this fall :)

    1. Thank you for the comment, Della! Did you venture into canning (as we call it in the States!)?

  2. I'd love to see a photo of your kitchen towel water bath technique! I hate fussing with the racks and am intrigued by not needing to use one.

  3. Hi, Kimberly…. I can try to remember to shoot a photo next time I'm canning, but seriously, no insert needed! The towel is a tried and true method. Use a thin, cotton towel. No fuss. Who has room in the kitchen cupboards for that clutter anyway?!?


I'd love to hear all about your kitchen adventures! Xo, Becki