Basic Salsa

I’m still on a canning kick here. How can I not be with all the great produce that’s available this time of year?

Today I’m sharing my canning recipe for a good, basic salsa. The tomatoes are still coming in and peppers are ready, too, so it was time to go ahead and put up a few jars of this deliciousness to keep on hand for the winter. It’s so nice to open a jar of homemade salsa when it’s cold out and be able to taste those fresh summer tomatoes once more. Mmmmm. A jar of this in my Salsa Chicken recipe in the middle of winter…well, I have to say it’s just fabulous.

This recipe makes five pints. That’s just about right for our household. If you want to make more, you can double or triple the recipe. Just make sure that you keep the same proportions to guarantee that it’s safe for canning.

3 pounds tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 medium onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 sweet green pepper, chopped
3-9 jalapeno peppers, halved, seeded and chopped
9 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups white or red wine vinegar
3 tsp. granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. pickling salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

Prepare the jars, lids and rings as usual. You can review how I manage this part of the process in my last post. Fill the canner with water, bring to the boil and hold until ready to fill the jars.

There is a lot of prep work involved in this recipe. It’s not difficult at all, just peeling and chopping. And you begin by preparing your tomatoes.

Prepping tomatoes for canning salsa

I prefer Roma tomatoes for salsa and I had a few yellow tomatoes on hand, so I included them as well. You can use any combination of tomatoes you like. To make peeling the tomatoes easy, simply drop them into boiling water for one minute. Then drain them and put them into cold water for a few minutes.

Peeling tomatoes for canning salsa

The skins will slip right off. It makes the peeling so simple!

I debated about whether to include all the chopping and mincing photos here for illustration purposes. After thinking it over, I decided that if you cook at all you certainly know how to dice peppers and onions, so I’m sparing you having to scroll past 15 photos of chopped vegetables!

Chop the tomatoes, onions and green pepper and jalapenos. I used three jalapenos for this amount of salsa because we like ours pretty mild. You can add up to nine if you like it hotter. You could also substitute a hotter pepper if you like, but don’t add more than the equivalent of about nine jalapenos so you don’t upset the pH balance of the recipe and make it unsafe for canning!

Finely mince the garlic. Combine all ingredients in a stainless steel or enamel saucepan.

Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and boil gently, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until desired consistency, stirring frequently. Your house will smell like the most delicious Mexican eatery by the time this finishes cooking!

Jars of homemade salsa going into the canner

Carefully remove the hot jars from the canner and ladle in the salsa to within 1/2 inch of rim (head space). Return the filled jars to the canner. Begin timing when the water returns to a boil. Process 20 minutes for half-pint and pint jars.

Finished jars of homemade canned salsa

Makes 5 pints or 10 half pints.


Basic Salsa
Cook time
Total time
A home canning recipe for basic tomato salsa.
Serves: 5 pints or 10 half-pints
  • 3 pounds tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 sweet green pepper, chopped
  • 3-9 jalapeno peppers, halved, seeded and chopped
  • 9 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups white or red wine vinegar
  • 3 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pickling salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
  1. Prepare jars, lids and rings according to manufacturer’s directions. Fill canner with water, bring to the boil and hold until ready to fill jars.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered for 25 minutes or until desired consistency, stirring frequently.
  3. Remove hot jars from the canner and ladle salsa into each to within 1/2 inch of rim (head space). Process 20 minutes for half-pint and pint jars.
  4. Makes 5 pints or 10 half pints.
All text and photographs on Never Enough Thyme are copyright protected. Please do not use any material from this site without obtaining prior permission. If you'd like to post this recipe on your site, please create your own original photographs and either re-write the recipe in your own words or link to this post.

–Based on a recipe in Small Batch Preserving.

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  1. says

    Perfect timing Nana! I am in a canning kick too, just put up some Pickled Grape Tomatoes this past weekend and my canning “ToDo” list has some “New Dill” cucumbers, salsa, fire roasted tomato sauce, and a few others to “put up” my garden harvest.

    Your salsa is a perfect recipe, I too prefer the Roma’s for my salsas.

    Bon appetit!

  2. says

    Canning seems like such a huge undertaking to me since I’ve never done it before, but it must be nice to be able to enjoy your salsa when winter rolls around. :-)

    • says

      Jean, it does require some special equipment – a canning pot, jars, lids, rings – but the rewards are well worth the investment.

  3. says

    I just had quesadillas this morning and was missing salsa. Now, I wish I could have made this!! I’m bookmarking this recipe. Thanks!

    • says

      Jump in and give it a try, Steve. I always advise people who’ve never canned to purchase the Ball Blue Book and follow its instructions. Start with something simple, like strawberry jam, and you’ll soon understand the process. I’m always happy to answer questions, too.

          • betsy says

            Oh, I am so sorry I commented! I just realized that this is a super old post. Again, so sorry about that. I don’t know how I came across it.

            • says

              No problem, Betsy! I love comments whether they’re on old or new posts. You may have gotten to this one from Facebook since I posted a link to it on there just yesterday. I thought it was a good time to bring it up again with tomatoes in season right now.

  4. Teri says

    I really admire people who are into canning. I just don’t have the inclination or patience but I wish I did, especially when winter rolls around and I’m missing all those veggies.

  5. says

    I LOVE it! Thanks for this post. I am always in the market for a good salsa recipe and since my first canning adventure earlier in the year, I’m ready to do it again! Great pics, too!!

  6. says

    OMG! This looks fabulous!! I’m heading over to the farmer’s market today to pick up the ingredients !! So happy to have found your blog, it has inspired me to get back to canning again!!!

    • says

      Hi Anna. I’m glad I could be an inspiration for you to get in the kitchen and can something! It’s one of the things I enjoy doing the most. Having delicious canned goods during the cold winter months is worth all the effort!

  7. says

    Hi, Lana,
    Thank you so much for such a detailed comment. With my luck, I found your canning instructions after I processed 15 jars of jam. I was scared about the process. They have been refrigerated. I hope to follow your instructions for Salsa and cucumbers soon. You do not have instructions for just tomatoes. I will have to look on your blog before the tomatoes overwhelm me. I so appreciate the comment. Have a great day. -Tien

  8. says

    Looks fantastic! Great photos. Do you know if salsa does alright in the freezer too? Then I could be lazy and skip the whole canning thing…lol

    • says

      Alta – I really don’t know how freezing affects salsa. I’m thinking maybe you’d end up with a watery product after it thawed. Just not sure.

  9. says

    You are on the canning kick too!!! Nice! I need to take advantage of our garden Roma tomatoes as well and put up a batch of salsa. Your salsa looks wonderful.

    Bon appetit!

  10. says

    Its easier to peel tomatoes by cutting an x at the top before boiling and then cooling and then peeling. also a note of caution many home canning mishaps end up sending many a friend to the hospital for food borne illness with special emphasize on the deadly disease botulism. Botulism which is an endospore bacteria can become active and grow under favorable conditions, these conditions can consist of an improper canning environment too much oxygen available or improper heating and sealing techniques. Endospore forming bacteria can live within our soil as well as plants and animals. These bacteria can remain in a dormant state for thousands of years before being activated by proper growth conditions, such as your home canned salsa. Don’t mean to come down on the recipe, just the food microbiologist within me comes out when recipes of these sort cross my path.

    • says

      Hello Kayla,

      Thanks for your comment. My method of peeling tomatoes works great for me.

      The salsa recipe is a USDA tested and approved canning recipe. The amount of vinegar in the recipe makes the pH of the finished product shelf stable and safe for canning as long as proper procedures are followed. I have been canning for more than 35 years and am careful to always use tested recipes. I encourage all new canners to become familiar with proper home canning techniques. I would not post a recipe on my blog if there were any question as to its safety for home canning.

  11. Edie says

    I just made this recipe!
    No chopping problems with the Kitchen Aid food processor and a helpful husband.
    Fabulous Recipe!!
    I doubled the recipe…my only suggestion is adding a 6 oz. tin of tomato paste at the end of the cooking time to the salsa. This made the finished product thick & rich, like store bought.
    I made homemade foccacia bread and we couldn’t wait for the salsa to cool down to sample it….we devoured this wonderful full flavoured salsa with the bread. YUM!
    Thanks Lana,

    • says

      Hi Edie – so glad you enjoyed the recipe. Your suggestion for adding tomato paste probably does make a richer product, but it alters the pH balance of the recipe making it questionable for home canning. With the additional tomato paste, I’d store it in the refrigerator.

  12. Foodlvr says

    This looks amazing. I want salsa, on everything. I make it but in 2 jar amounts and never to can. I have been thinking of doing canning and I just got my hands on a Blue Book. Can’t wait to begin. I need more jars, and 2 other things that I saw at Ace last week. I am going back this weekend to get them.

    • says

      This is a really nice, all-purpose mild salsa that is easy to make and can. I try to make a batch every summer when tomatoes are plentiful and it lasts us all year. Hope you enjoy it!

  13. says

    This looks great! I have 7lbs of tomatoes that need to be used this week, so I’m going to try this tomorrow night.

    Do you remove the seeds from the tomatoes? Does it matter whether they’re there or not? I’ve never made salsa before at all, but I’m sure I can do better than the store-bought stuff! Thanks!

    • says

      Mary, It would depend on whether the recipe for your Cherry Salsa is safe for canning. You should always use a USDA tested and approved recipe which will include the correct headspace, jar size and processing time.

  14. Sharon says

    This salsa sounds so good. Could I add some black beans and yellow corn to it without changing the ph for canning?

    • says

      Sharon – Sorry but either black beans or yellow corn would make this recipe unsafe for water bath canning. You could, however, make the salsa according to the recipe and add those when you open a jar for use.

  15. Jason says

    Quick question. You use the water bath method for canning. Can you just put steaming hot salsa in a jar and seal the jar that way, without boiling the jars at the end? Thanks!

    • says

      Jason – You can do that, but after the jars and contents cool down (about 24 hours) you’ll have to store them in the refrigerator and use them within a month or so. To keep them in the pantry not under refrigeration they must be sealed using a water bath. Water bath sealed jars are safe to store out of the refrigerator for up to a year.

  16. Deb says

    I am wondering if it’s possible to use cider vinegar, as that is what I have used in the past. I don’t know the recipe anymore but I do remember that I used cider vinegar. Thanks in advance for your help!

    • says

      If your vinegar is at least 5% acidic then it’s safe to use for canning. It will, however, change the taste of the salsa quite a lot.

  17. Deborah says

    I just made this today, my goodness it smelled delicious!!!! I just started canning a few months ago and this is my first attempt at salsa. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks

  18. Lehran says

    Hi there! Just finished canning this recipe and it looks delish! Just wondering what the shelf life is and the best way to store the jars? :-)

  19. Kacie says

    For the amount of tomatoes…

    Is this 3 lbs before they are peeled and chopped, or is 3 lbs the quantity needed after they are peeled and chopped? Past experience peeling tomatoes for canning tells me you can lose a lot of “product” during that process.

  20. Bernie says

    Hi! I have a question about the water bath photo. I always make sure the water is over the jars by at least 2 inches. Your photo looks like the top half of the jars are above the water and not completely submerged. Can you explain this to me? If that’s the method I should use for canning anything with tomatoes it would explain why I sometimes get water inside my sauce jars. Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Bernie – yes, I can see how that photo would be confusing. The jars are sitting in the rack which is hooked over the sides of the canner. They haven’t been lowered into the water yet. The standard is that the tops of the jars should covered by at least 1″ of water and they would be when lowered into the canner.

  21. says

    I tried this recipe today for the first time. I had a small amount left over that wouldn’t fill a full jar so I tried it with some tortilla chips. It was delicious. It has a very nice flavor but the vinegar is very prominent. Does this mellow after being in cans for awhile?



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