As canning season begins, you should know that there are several secrets to making the perfectly canned salsa.

canned salsa
Our homemade salsa, made from our home-grown San Marzano and Amish Paste tomatoes

Salsa is by far, one of the most popular recipes that is made from ingredients in a backyard garden. Many people grow their own tomatoes and peppers in hopes to preserve summer’s bounty by canning homemade salsa.

However, if you don’t have a garden, or maybe not everything turns ripe at the same time, you can still make the perfectly canned salsa by purchasing the produce at a local farmer’s market, produce stand, or even a grocery store.

It is important to remember that canned salsa tastes completely different from fresh salsa.

Both are delicious, however, just like store-bought salsa, the texture and consistency of homemade salsa is much softer and thinner as compared to eating fresh, never canned salsa.

In order to make perfectly canned salsa, there are a few secrets that you should know.

Secrets To Perfectly Canned Salsa

1. The Variety of Tomatoes That You Use Does Matter

Salsa is best when made from thick, Italian style tomatoes. Some examples of these tomatoes are Romas, Amish Paste, and San Marzano.

These are commonly known as paste tomatoes because of their thick walls and low water and seed count.

2. Use Only Fresh and Firm Produce

Now is not the time to use those over-ripened tomatoes and peppers. If those tomatoes have been sitting on your counter or in your refrigerator for several days, it is best to pass those up when making your salsa.

Use fresh picked tomatoes and peppers that are just ripened and firm to the touch. This will help keep the produce from falling apart when being processed.

canned salsa
Peel your tomatoes before adding them to you salsa.

3. Take the Time to Peel Your Tomatoes

There is always a big debate on whether or not you should remove the skins off of your tomatoes when processing them.

As the salsa is cooked and during the canning process, the skins will remove away from the flesh and become tough and chewy. Bits of floating skin will be scattered throughout your salsa and ruin the taste of your perfectly canned salsa.

4.  Dejuice and Deseed Your Tomatoes and Peppers

No matter what tomato variety that you are using in your salsa, you must remove the seeds and as much liquid as you can.

Simply cut your tomato in half and squeeze out the seeds and any excess juice. Remove the seeds and ribs of the peppers as well to keep your salsa thicker and tastier.

5. Use a Tried and True Recipe 

It is important to know that not all canning recipes passed down over the generations are safe for canning in today’s world. The acidity level of tomatoes has changed over the decades and recommended canning techniques and processing times have also changed.

Recipes that are safe for canning can be found at your local extension offices or through various agencies on-line.  You can still make Grandma’s salsa recipe – just freeze it instead of canning.  The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is a good canning resource guide with recipes that are safe to use.

6. Add Acid To Your Salsa

Salsa can safely be canned, but it needs a little bit of acid in order to do so. The ingredient in salsa that boosts up the acidity is usually either vinegar or lemon juice.

Do not substitute one for the other. If your recipe calls for vinegar, use vinegar. The same goes with lemon juice, but you must use bottled lemon juice.

Although freshly squeezed lemon juice is preferred in a lot of recipes, it isn’t so for canning. The acid levels in fresh lemons can vary greatly and will provide unpredictable results when used in canning recipes. Stick to the bottled lemon juice.

7. Do Not Add Additional Peppers, Onions or Garlic 

If you found a salsa recipe that sounds interesting, it is important to remember not to add any additional peppers, onions or garlic to the mixture. However, you can substitute one pepper variety for another, or add less peppers and more onions and garlic.

The key here is to have the same measured amount of peppers, onions and garlic combination as the recipe states. You can always use less, but never more.

8. Spice It Up

Add as many dried spices to your salsa as you desire. These spices will not affect the canning process, only the flavor that you and your family desire.

So add in a little crushed red pepper or some more oregano. The choice is yours! If you want a good mix for medium salsa try Mrs. Wages Medium Salsa Mix. 

canned salsa
Add fresh ingredients to your canned salsa.

9. Add Fresh Ingredients When Serving 

Every time that we open a can of homemade salsa, we add fresh ingredients to the mixture before serving. We add diced onions, diced peppers, cilantro, and even minced garlic to give the salsa that fresh kick.

The combination of the flavors that have melded together while being canned and the addition of the fresh ingredients will have everyone begging for more!

See: Our Canning Recipe Page For More Recipes


Mary and Jim

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Canned Salsa Recipe


  • 10 cups peeled cored, chopped tomatoes
  • 5 cups seeded chopped green bell peppers
  • 5 cups chopped onions
  • 2 1/2 cups seeded chopped chili peppers
  • 1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher salt


  1. In a large stockpot add tomatoes, green peppers, onions, chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, cilantro, and salt. Stir well. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes until slightly thickened.
  2. Sterilize pint jars and ladle hot salsa into hot jars. Leave ½ inch headspace. Be sure to remove air bubbles by placing a plastic knife down the side of each jar. Add salsa as needed to adjust headspace. Wipe rim clean and center warm lid on jar. Tighten band to secure lid but be sure to not over tighten.
  3. Process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed. Store in a cool, dark place.

Recipe Notes

Recipe courtesy of Old World Garden Farms

The Secrets To Perfectly Canned Salsa – Recipe Included