Garden Bounty

This time of year it seems that everyone has a favorite recipe for salsa. Salsa is a fun and easy product to make. Salsas are combinations of acidic and low acid vegetables. The onions, peppers, and garlic are low acid foods. Producing a safe product that can be home canned means you must add enough of the right type of acid to prevent the growth of botulism bacteria. The best way to ensure a safe salsa is to carefully follow a tested recipe. You can find tested recipes in several places. The USDA canning guide, the National Center for Home Food Preservation, and Extension publications like Preserve the Taste of Summer.

Blanching tomatoes.
Blanching tomatoes.

Here are a few helpful tips to remember:

  •  Use high quality tomatoes, peppers, onions, and garlic.  Canning won’t improve the quality of the ingredients.
  •  Remember not to increase the total volume of peppers.  You can substitute one variety of pepper for another—to make a hotter or milder salsa.
  • Use the acid listed in the recipe; bottled lemon juice, vinegar with 5% acidity, or lime juice.
  • Spices may be adjusted to taste flavoring.  It is really the only safe ingredient to change in a tested recipe.
  • Using a tested recipe allows you to process a safe salsa in a boiling water bath canner.  If you choose to use a recipe of your own, remember that you can safely freeze that salsa, but you cannot home can it.
  • Don’t thicken salsa before canning.  As you open jars of your salsa, you can thicken it or pour off excess liquid.

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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