Canned Tomato Salsa

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Sometimes, during the summer, our tomato plants decide to have a party on the vine, so to speak, and produce way more tomatoes than we can possibly eat, even if we are eating them every day, sliced, salted, and served with a little balsamic or mayo.

What do you do with your excess garden tomatoes?

Last week my dad made his favorite tomato juice. This week we made and canned some simple tomato and green chile salsa, which I expect will be great to pull out in the middle of winter and munch with some tortilla chips (if the jars last that long, we go through salsa pretty quickly around here.)

Canned Tomato Salsa

Note that it is the vinegar in the salsa ingredients that make this salsa safe for canning using a water bath canning method. Tomatoes are already slightly acidic, and only need a little more acid to be safely canned using this method. But the chiles are not acidic, so they need more vinegar.

Canned Tomato Salsa Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 5 pints

Before starting, prepare your workspace so that it is clean and uncluttered. If you don't want to roast your own green chiles, you can sub with about two 7-ounce cans of green chiles, chopped.

This recipe uses specific amounts of ingredients, balancing the non-acidic ingredients with the amount of added acid needed to make the recipe safe. Do not increase the amount of green chiles beyond 1 1/2 cups, or decrease the amount of tomatoes less than 7 cups.


  • 5 lbs of tomatoes
  • 1 lb large Anaheim green chiles (5-6 chiles)
  • 3 jalapeno chilies, seeded and stems removed, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh chopped cilantro (including stems)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp sugar or more (to taste, depending on how sweet your tomatoes are)

Canning equipment needed:

  • 5 to 6 pint-sized canning jars, with rings and new lids
  • A very large stockpot or canning pot (16-qt)
  • A flat steamer rack on which to place the filled jar for the water bath canning, so that they don't touch the bottom of the pan and crack from excess heat

Canning equipment recommended:

  • Canning tongs to make it easy to lift the jars in and out of boiling water
  • Rubber or latex coated gardening gloves to make it easier on your hands for handling hot jars


1 Sterilize jars and lids in water bath: Place steamer rack in the bottom of a large (16-qt) stock pot or canning pot. Place new or clean mason jars on the rack. Fill the jars with water and fill the pot with just enough water to come to the top of the jars. Heat water to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. (Keep the jars warm while preparing the salsa.)

Have a kettle half filled with water ready to boil, to use to sterilize the jar lids a few minutes before canning.

2 Roast chile peppers: Roast the Anaheim green chile peppers until blackened all over. The best way to do this is directly over a gas flame on the stovetop (see how to roast chiles over a gas flame.) If you don't have a gas cooktop you can broil the chiles, or blister them on a grill.

Note that it is not essential that the chile peppers be cooked through, only that the outer tough skin is blistered and blackened. This is what will help with flavor. Also it will make it easy to peel the chiles.

Just put the chiles near a heat source until blistered and blackened, and turn them so that they get blackened on all sides.

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Then place the chiles in a brown paper bag (or in a covered bowl), close the bag and let the chiles steam in their own heat for a few minutes.

Then gently rub off the outer skin and discard. Cut away the stems and remove the seeds and any prominent veins.

Chop up the chiles and set aside; you should have 1 cup of chopped chiles. Do not use more than 1 1/2 cups of chopped chiles.

3 Prepare the tomatoes: You want the tomatoes peeled, and there are several ways of doing that. Blanching them is easiest; grilling or broiling will result in more flavor.

To blanch them, score the ends of the tomatoes and place them in boiling water for a minute.

If you are going to grill or broil the tomatoes, I recommend coring them first. Grilling is best with whole plum tomatoes; grill them on high direct heat until blackened in parts and the peels are cracked.

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Broiling works with any sized tomato. Just cut them in half and place the cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. Broil until the peels are blackened in parts.

Remove the tomatoes (from water, grill or broiler) and let cool to the touch. Remove and discard the peels. Cut away any cores if you haven't done so already. Chop the tomatoes taking care to save any juices that may come out of them.

Starting with 5 pounds of tomatoes you should end up with about 8 cups of chopped tomatoes and juices. (You must use at least 7 cups of tomatoes.) Place them in a bowl and set aside.

4 Simmer all ingredients in a large pot: Put all of the ingredients into a large (8-qt) stainless steel pot. (Do not use aluminum or the acidity of the sauce will cause the aluminum to leach into the sauce.)

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Cook uncovered for about 10 minutes.

canned-tomato-salsa-method-5 canned-tomato-salsa-method-6

5 Sterilize jar lids: While the salsa is cooking, place the jar lids in a bowl and cover with boiling water to sterilize.

6 Blend salsa if you want it to be more smooth: If you want your salsa to be more smooth than chunky, use an immersion blender to pulse it a few times, or working in batches ladle about half of it into a blender and purée.

7 Adjust seasonings: If too acidic to taste, add more sugar to balance the vinegar! If too sweet, add a bit more vinegar.

8 Ladle salsa into canning jars and seal: Ladle salsa into canning jars, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Wipe the rims with a clean, dampened paper towel so that there is no residual food on the rims.

Place canning lids on the jars. Screw on the lid rings. Do not over-tighten or you may not get a good seal. Air does need to escape from the jars during the next step, the water bath.


9 Boil in a water bath: Place the filled and lidded jars back onto the rack in the large stock-pot of hot water you used to sterilize the jars in step one. You may need to remove some of the water from the pot to prevent it from overfilling.

Cover the jars with at least 1-inch of water. Bring to a rolling boil and process for 15 minutes (20 minutes for altitudes 1000 to 6000 ft, 25 minutes above 6000 ft). Then turn off heat and let the jars sit in the hot water for 5 minutes.


10 Let jars cool, lids should pop: Remove jars from the water bath and let sit on a counter for several hours until completely cool. The lids should "pop" as the cooling salsa creates a vacuum under the lid and the jars are sealed.

If a lid has not sealed, either replace the lid and reprocess in a water bath for another 15 minutes, or store in the refrigerator and use within the next few days.

Remember to label the cans with the date processed. (I use a Sharpie on the lid.) Canned salsa should be eaten within a year.

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Showing 4 of 164 Comments

  • Sue

    Brilliant! On my second batch. Made some without chills forgrandkids

  • Margaret

    I made these this afternoon, but half the amount as I only had 2.5 lbs of tomatoes. I used a mixture of roma and heirloom tomatoes from my local farmer’s market. I cannot get Hatch long green chilis where I live in Canada so I substitutes a long sweet red chile which I did roast over the gas stove flame – never again – what a mess to clean up the sweet dripping juices cooking onto the burner! I also added a small can of chopped green chilis as suggested. I won’t use those again as they were pretty tasteless, but I wanted to have enough peppers so I put them in. I also used half lime juice and half cider vinegar and omitted the oregano (by accident!). I cooked the sauce for 10 minutes and despite it being still pretty watery, I want ahead and put it in the jars. I had a little left over that I sampled (after the fact) and then I wished I had adjusted the seasoning a bit, but no problem to add a bit of salt or sugar later. My main concern is the consistency. . I chose this recipe because it did not use tomato paste or sauce to thicken, like every other recipe I saw, and that is my complaint of the commercial bottled salsas available in Canada – they taste too tomato saucy – however, I am thinking that the only way to get it thick and not watery IS to add t-paste or sauce, or cook it to death. Any thoughts on this matter. I like PACE salsa, only one I can buy here that I like – and it does not use any thickener. I could strain off some juice before cooking I guess. OR maybe blend some of it? Thanks for your recipe and all the useful comments!

  • Frank

    I’m going on my third batch this summer, great receipe! Entering some into the fair, everybody loves it. Thanks!

  • Lindsey

    Hi! Can I make this with my steam canner or does it have to be water bath?

  • nic9476

    Hi, just wondering when you open the canned salsa to eat do you have to reheat it first?

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