NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Salsa Secrets

Salsa Secrets


          For salsa fanatics, tomatoes exist not to become part of BLT sandwiches or to use as the base for spaghetti sauce, but for the sole purpose of creating “one –of –a kind” salsa products.

          With a few tomatoes, your favorite additions and a research-tested recipe, you can safely create and preserve your own salsa for enjoyment this winter. 

-         Follow the formulation given in the research-tested recipe exactly and measure or weigh ingredients carefully.  If you have created your won salsa masterpiece, for safety’s sake, freezing is a better choice than canning.  The addition of too many vegetables – onions and peppers – can quickly change the product from one that is safely processed in a water-bath canner to one that requires processing in a pressure canner.

-         If the recipe calls for spices, you may safely decrease the amount of spice, but do not increase the spice amounts.

-         To alter the hotness of your salsa, you can safely substitute one type of pepper for another, but keep the total amount of pepper the same.

-         Do not thicken salsas with cornstarch before canning.  If the salsa appears thin, it can be heated and thickened with cornstarch or some of the excess juice may be strained away, after opening the jars.

-         Before beginning to prepare salsa for canning, fill the water bath canner about half full of clean water. For hot-packed food, like most salsa recipes, preheat the water in the canner to about 180 degrees F. Use a rack in the canner to lift the jars off the bottom of the canner.

-         Leave ½ inch headspace when filling jars. After filling jars with food, remove trapped air bubbles with a nonmetallic spatula, adjusting headspace if needed.

-         Wipe the rim of each jar carefully with a cloth or paper towel before applying the lid and screw ring. Do not over-tighten the screw ring. It should only be “finger tight” or the lids may not seal properly.

-         After jars are placed in the canner, add additional boiling water to bring the water level up to at least one inch over jar tops.

-         Begin timing when water boils.  Keep the canner coved during processing. The water should remain at a gentle but steady boil during the process time. 

-         When the processing time is complete, carefully remove jars from the canner.  Place at least one inch apart on cooling tacks or towels to cool for at least 12 hours.  Do not retighten screw rings and keep jars out of cold drafts and off cold surfaces. 

-         Unsealed jars may be safely reprocessed within 24 hours or the jars of salsa may be refrigerated for fresh consumption. 


Tomato Paste Salsa

3 qt. tomatoes, peeled and chopped

4 C. green peppers, chopped

12-oz jar jalapeno peppers

1 C. long green chilies, seeded and chopped

23 C. onions, chopped

3 C. celery chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 12-oz cans tomato paste

2 C. bottled lemon juice

1 T. salt

1 C. sugar

1 T. ground cumin

          Combine all ingredients in large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and continue boiling for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle hot salsa into hot pint jars, leaving 1.2 inch headspace. Wipe jar rims. Cap with lids. Adjust lids and process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes.

          For more info on preparing and canning salsa, stop in the Ramsey County office of the NDSU Extension Service on the second floor of the Ramsey County Courthouse or call our office at #662-7027 for a copy of “From the Garden to the Table: Salsa!”

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