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Annie's Salsa

July 16, 2009

My tomatoes are almost ready and I'm hoping that by next week I'll be up to my elbows in Annie's Salsa! I've been reading such great things about it, but I have to say that I'm a bit overwhelmed by all of the tweaks and changes to the recipe over the years. Annie (or anyone else) - could you post the definitive recipe with the most recent changes to it? I would SO appreciate it. Everytime I walk out into my garden, visions of jars and jars of salsa float through my head. LOL!

Thank you so much!


Comments (99)

  • harvestingfilth

    I was dying to try this after reading all the rave reviews here, but have a few questions. Are you seeding the tomatoes or leaving the seeds in? (recipe doesn't mention seeding).

    The recipe says peeled, chopped, 'drained'. Why drain then add canned tomato juice back in?

    Are yellow tomatoes too low in acid to be trusted? I can't find anything about them on forum search, though I've read this info elsewhere in my past canning efforts. Could I mix a few in for color?


  • malna

    Annie runs her thumb through the tomatoes and gets out the "goo" (as she calls it). I leave the seeds in (I'm lazy). Just a personal preference.

    When you drain them, you'll get a lot of watery, almost clear juice. The recipe calls for canned (or homemade) tomato sauce, not tomato juice.

    You can use yellow tomatoes, but I've found that they can get lost in the redness, especially after adding the tomato paste. But I use any color tomato I can get my hands on.

  • annie1992

    As Malna pointed out, I use canned tomato sauce and tomato paste in my salsa, just for the texture. I don't like it watery, so I add those things and I "thumb out" the seeds and goo inside the tomatoes, then just chop up the meaty part.

    I also use whatever color tomato I have, the cup of vinegar/lemon/lime juice adds the acidity which many modern tomatoes lack, although I also find that the color gets lost in the mix.

    I'm also told that yellow tomatoes aren't really lower in acid, they are higher in sugar content so they taste sweeter but aren't actually a low acid tomato. I guess I don't know that for sure, having not taken the time to do any research.

    I hope you enjoy the salsa.


  • harvestingfilth

    Thank you both--I knew it was "sauce" and not juice--bought the right thing, just didn't type the right thing. I made salsa once before and didn't like it watery, so I'm hoping the sauce/paste will thicken it up. I will save the tomato water for soup. I got a few yellow tomatoes today, so will mix them in as I go.

    Off to the kitchen.
    Thanks again,

  • melva02

    I don't thumb out the seeds, but I do slice the tomato on its equator (after blanching) and squeeze the two halves into the compost bowl with the skins. That gets most of the seeds and gel out. That stuff gives me heartburn if I leave it in or use it for something else, so I just compost it.


  • audrey66

    Can someone tell my why the extension office would recommend not using a pressure canner for this salsa? I haven't used a pressure canner yet so I'm obviously a beginner, but from what I've read, I thought that it was always ok to pressure can food if there were doubts about how acidic they were?


  • digdirt2

    You'll find the reasoning detailed in many of the discussions here on Annie's Salsa and it is mentioned above.

    Basically, it is not prohibited in any way, pressure canning the salsa is allowed. It was just that the extension said not can in it in quarts and that the recipe for the PC'd version (it called for less acid) was never tested so it can't be "recommended" by them.

    This does NOT mean that you can't PC the salsa, clearly you can and many do so. But do it with the full 1 c of acid added and only do it in pints.

    Their main point was that it shouldn't be done in quarts but for some reason everyone only focuses the part about pressure canning and ignores the rest. ;)


  • malna

    Perhaps a bit of the confusion has come from your post (I think it was the first response):

    NOTE: To repeat what Annie said, the Extension agency no longer recommends canning in quarts or pressure canning her salsa (probably because they don't have the resources to test it). For those who have made it in the past, the pressure canned recipe called for a smaller amount of vinegar.

    So, to update, make Annie's salsa with a full cup of vinegar, can only in pints and boiling water bath for 15 minutes. (From Carol)

    I interpreted that to mean that we should BWB it, not PC it. I had added that to my notes back in January when you originally posted (that one and my other notes are about the 10th response down).

    Then you wrote today:

    Basically, it is not prohibited in any way, pressure canning the salsa is allowed. It was just that the extension said not can in it in quarts and that the recipe for the PC'd version (it called for less acid) was never tested so it can't be "recommended" by them.

    This does NOT mean that you can't PC the salsa, clearly you can and many do so. But do it with the full 1 c of acid added and only do it in pints.

    Their main point was that it shouldn't be done in quarts but for some reason everyone only focuses the part about pressure canning and ignores the rest. ;)

    Just trying to clarify, is the "correct" answer (until the new salsa guidelines come out):

    1. Either PCing (albeit not "recommended" by the Extension Service, but you are saying it is "allowed") or BWBing is OK if you add the entire 1 cup of vinegar?
    2. Is the time still PC pints (or smaller-no quarts) at 10 lbs. pressure for 30 minutes and BWB pints (or smaller-no quarts) for 15 minutes?

    No offense intended whatsoever - I really just want to be clear on this point.

  • digdirt2

    Malna - let's think about it this way. Why would you NOT be able to safely PC a recipe that is approved safe for BWB?

    PC processing is always safer than BWB. Only the texture, not the safety is affected. So, if you take a BWB recipe and instead process it at the weight required for your altitude and for the required amount of time, why would the product not be safe?

    If you want added insurance then use the full cup of acid called for in the BWB version of Annie's recipe. That way you can process it either way you want because obviously, if it is safe to BWB it would clearly be safe to PC.

    The confusion doesn't come from the posts themselves but from how it is interpreted by the readers. People read into the statement far more than it actually says.

    I had saved the PC version of the recipe only (and that is what I copied and pasted in reply to the OP) because personally I would never eat salsa that was only done in a BWB. So I have posted many times about pressure canning Annie's salsa and so has Linda Lou and so have several others. Even NCHFP discusses the available option of pressure canning BWB approved recipes. The only safety issue is for how long to process them.

    The post above (note it was in italics) were notes added to my copy of the recipe. The original note was from Carol (thus her attached name), not me.

    So bottom line, just because the extension service never tested the salsa in a pressure canner and so cannot officially approve it does not mean that it can't be done. They never said PC'ing it was unsafe (they can't because PC is always safer than BWB) they just said don't do it in quarts and that they can't recommend the PC because they never tested it.

    Hope this helps but I honestly don't know how to make it any more clear.


  • luski

    "I had saved the PC version of the recipe only (and that is what I copied and pasted in reply to the OP) because personally I would never eat salsa that was only done in a BWB".

    Just curious, Dave - with the extra vinegar and processed correctly, why not? Is it a quality or safety concern?


  • compostnewbie

    Quick! If I half this recipe do I only use 1/2 of vinegar?? Or do I have to keep it a full cup for the canning purpose??? I don't have a PC so I can't do that and am only making 3 pints....

  • mom2wildboys

    Yes, you'd just use half the vinegar for a half recipe.

  • digdirt2

    Just curious, Dave - with the extra vinegar and processed correctly, why not? Is it a quality or safety concern?

    It is a safety issue Lu. Too many folks forget that they are working with a very low-acid mix of vegetables, something that would normally require pressure canning, and they experiment with it too much.

    Rather than following Annie's delicious and totally safe recipe as it was approved and posted (or using one of the other approved recipes for salsa) to the letter as they should, folks play around with it or make up their own recipes. Just look at all the "can I do/change this in Annie's salsa" posts here.

    Since it will be eaten fresh from the jar with no further cooking after opening, salsa MUST be safe when it goes into the jar and is finished processing. And if you can't trust the cook to follow the approved recipe accurately then one has to put their trust into the processing. PC is safer than BWB.

    I took an extension course on canning salsas several years back where we did the 3 approved NCHFP recipes (BWB recipes). I thought the instructor was going to pull her hair out trying to get the class members to understand the safety issues and to follow them. Half the class didn't know how to properly measure things. If it was in the ballpark it was fine with them. The old "if 1 cup is good then 2 cups is better" attitude. ;) "But I had all these extra chopped peppers so I just threw them in."

    And others kept wanting to add favorite things or leave out things they didn't like. One woman was determined to make hers taste "just like Pace salsa". It was a very depressing experience about the casual attitudes many take to canning safety.

    It is for reasons like this (and the popularity of it) that NCHFP continues to do research on salsa canning safety and I expect there to be substantial revisions in the guidelines when the new ones come out.


  • dian57

    I smiled when I read someone's comments about consuming a tablespoon of salsa in the past year. I had the other tablespoon.

    Still, I needed to know what the Annie's Salsa fuss was all about and collected all the ingredients. I carefully followed the directions and ended up with 6 full pints and about 1 1/2 cups left over for immediate tasting.

    While I'm not an expert by any means, I thought it tasted good. My son stopped over to chat. I was in the kitchen when he called to me from the patio--"Hey, Ma, where'd you get this salsa? It's freaking amazing!"

    Well, folks, there you have it. That comment made my day, maybe my whole week. It's good to have your efforts appreciated.

    Thanks, Annie!!!

    Today, the plan is to make more salsa---lots more!

  • malna


    How great you got the "Wow" factor from your son. Makes all the work worth it :-)

  • andymath

    I'm curious why there is such a long pressure canning processing time vs. BWB.

    I realize the original recipe was with less acid added, but if the salsa was to be pressure canned according to the updated recipe and adding a full cup of acid would it really need a full 30 minutes?

    I'm curious more in theory and not practice. I have a batch going now in the pressure canner and I'm excited to see how it turns out as I did a BWB batch last week and it was awesome!

    BTW I'm using my 3 piece weight for the first time and it's working like a charm! Glad to see my dial gauge is right at 11lbs and very happy I took everyones advice on purchasing the weights.

  • annie1992

    andymath, the original recipe was pressure cannedfor the longest time recommended for any single ingredient. The small amount of vinegar was only for the flavor because it just didn't taste right without it.

    Is it safe to pressure can without additional acidity? Maybe. Probably. BUT, it has not been tested and found to be safe by any expert at all. When I was working on that recipe, salsa was still canned in quarts and now those are not considered safe, so I don't can salsa in quarts. I know the National Center for Home Food Preservation is working on acidity guidelines for salsa and so the recommendation as to the amount of vinegar in the BWB recipe will probably change too and I'll change and adapt when and if that happens. As more information becomes available, I adjust my recipes and my viewpoints based on whatever new information there is.

    As Dave pointed out, the recipe as written is safe to BWB. However, too many people change this or that, add more of something, leave things out, soon the recipe isn't the same recipe any more. Since salsa is consumed without any heating before eating, the only factor keeping the stuff safe is the acidity ratio.

    So can away, BWB or pressure canner, it's fine. Just watch that acidity ratio!



  • andymath

    Thanks for the reply Annie. I should have asked my question a little differently as I read it now and it's a little unclear.

    In theory, if using the new guidelines and pressure canning as well wouldn't the processing time be able to be shortened? Again, this is just in thought as it is not my intention to stray from the recipe. My plan is to stick with BWB for 15 or PC for 30 both with the recommended 1 cup of acid.

    It just seemed to me that if it is safe to process for 15 minutes in a BWB then the same recipe PC could be done in less than 30.

    Not sure why I'm even curious about this, I guess it just popped into my head as I was chopping (and chopping and chopping :)) and I thought I'd see what others thought. Thanks


  • kkabr

    My husband and I made the salsa today - and wow - it is SO good!

    Just a quick question though. We used jarred tomato sauce which only came in a 15 oz container. We otherwise followed the recipe exactly - it should be safe for canning right? I'm thinking that just a 1 oz. reduction in sauce (with the same amount of cider vinegar - 1 cup) will only up the acidity - which isn't a bad thing.... We then did the BWB method with pint and half pint jars, all processed for 15 minutes.

    I *think* it will be safe, but please chime in and let me know if otherwise - thanks!


  • angelacan

    Yes, from what I've read (and believe me I've read as much as I've chopped!!) the canned products in Annie's salsa are for texture and flavor only, not safety. I canned 75 pints yesterday. As I was endlessly chopping and skinning I was wondering if the salsa was worth it. One taste and I remembered that it definitely is the best salsa I've ever had. Our whole family loves it and if Annie is reading this, THANKYOU so much for all your work. Today I'm prepping for the roasted tomato garlic soup to process tomorrow. YIPPIE!!

  • digdirt2

    Yeah a 1 oz. reduction in the sauce is no problem at all.


  • joe-il

    75 pints? Im exhausted from doing 6 pints salsa and 4 pints applesauce.

  • kkabr

    Ok, I can't even imagine how long it would take to prep and can 75 pints! Truly inspiring....

  • momj47

    Well, I just finished up with 96 jars. My feet are killing me.

    74 - 4oz jars for the wedding in the spring, the rest are for us. I think I'll use up the last of the 37lb of tomatoes tomorrow with one more batch - really hot, for the guys! My DS, his fiance, and SIL came over today and we chopped and chopped and chopped. They are my heroes.

    I got an alligator dicer from Target the other day - what a time saver it is. Kind of caught me by surprise. I started with the onions, until my son took over. Then I tried it on the tomatoes and it's wonderful. Last year I worked on tomatoes for hours - this year, I could do 8 cups in just a few minutes. As long as you take the tomatoes out of the simmering water and rinse them in cold water right away to peel, they stay firm and cut into chunks with no problems. Having the right equipment sure helps.

  • angelacan

    I certainly can't take all the chopping credit for my 75 glorious pints, that are still out on the counter, for admiration sake! I have 4 kids who chop right along side me and I had already made up 3 large freezer baggies with four times the recipe in each one. The only work I had to do yesterday was get the bags out of the freezer, and do the tomatoes. Prepping like that made a HUGE difference.

  • vschlaff

    Thank you all soooo much for the comments. I made my first batch of annies salsa and it was not good. to much vinegar. I'm new to canning. I will try these other ideas on the next batch.

  • annie1992

    vschlaff, I pressure canned my first batches because I was trying to get rid of some of the vinegar, then I found that my family actually likes it with all that vinegar in there.

    Some other people have had good luck replacing the vinegar with lemon or lime juice, which is perfectly acceptable. One of those options might work for you too.


  • malna

    The first batches we made were too "vinegary" as well. We've tweaked our personal taste to 1/2 cup cider vinegar, 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup lime juice (both bottled, BTW). That seems to work the best for us.

  • guysmom

    Just wanted to say thanks for a fantastic recipe. I made some of Annie's Salsa last night and brought a sample to share with my co workers. They are raving about the results and everyone wants the recipe. Also thanks to Malna for the notes. They were very helpful.

  • vschlaff

    Great recipe Annie!!! I made the salsa last year ans it was to vinagery for my taste. Annie told me how to fix this so, this year i tried 1/2 cup of lemon juice, 1/3 cup lime juice and 1/3 cup of cider vinager. It turned out great!!!

  • vschlaff

    I made the salsa using the lime and lemon juice from the produce section. Is it still ok?

  • cabrita

    We just canned 6 1/2 pints of this delicious salsa. I am sure that the recipe made more than 7 pints, we sampled it extensively while it was in the fridge waiting to be canned. We modified it to suit southwestern/California tastes. After reading the whole 150 response thread on this salsa I knew about the safe substitutions, which were nicely compiled by Malna here too.

    I used 100% garden tomatoes. For the chunks, we used a mix of green when ripe, golden, blacks and orange tomatoes. The sauce and paste was substituted by our own sauce (almost 32 ounces) that we made milling oxheart red tomatoes. The salsa was plenty thick like that, we would not want it any thicker.

    I used our own grown onions for this. I also used about 1 cup of our chopped sweet green peppers, and made up the remainder with a mix of serranos, jalapenos and chiles pequins that were ripe enough. I do not care for black pepper in my salsa, so I substituted the 2 tbsp black pepper for red pepper: 1 tbsp ground dried pequin powder, and 1 tbsp ground up dried smoked red jalapenos. They were all our own peppers preserved from last fall. We omitted the sugar too.

    The garlic, salt, cumin, and cider vinegar were from the store, everything else we grew. We do need to work on growing that garlic...

    The salsa was very flavorful, great texture and colors. It was just hot enough for DH, maybe slightly too wimpy for me and my Vietnamese and Mexican friends. However, I figure it is fine just as it is (good for the general public in California) and I can always add some more minced pequins or datils with the fresh cilantro when we serve it to people that like it hot.

  • digdirt2

    I made the salsa using the lime and lemon juice from the produce section. Is it still ok?

    The instructions call for bottled lime or lemon juice, not fresh. That requirement - bottled rather than fresh - is pretty much standard across the board just as the standard in canning is vinegar with 5% acidity. There are only a few exceptions.

    ReaLemon or ReaLime bottled juices are the standard recommended brand because of its boosted and stabilized acidity. Many off brands of both are actually quite low in acid.


  • bumble_doodle

    Okay, now I'm nervous!

    I used bottled lime juice for my 3 batches of Annie's Salsa but I never knew ReaLemon and ReaLime is the recommended brand?! I used a grocery store brand - 1/2 cup w/ 1/2 cup cider vinegar - the same as I did last year.

    I looked on the label and cannot find the acidity. Please don't tell me I need to dump them out.....

  • digdirt2

    Probably ok but if there is no acidity on the label I'd call the maker to find it out. And ask them if it is stabilized too. You can always freeze it.

    For some reason there seems to be a run here lately of folks using generic or unusual brands that provide no label info and so they are having to call to find out. Just as with vinegars and all the folks discovering that their cheap vinegar is only 3 or 4% or less, you get what you pay for.


  • bumble_doodle

    Thanks, Dave. I'll check into it.

    The lime juice I bought was the only kind they carried, which I thought was unusual for such a large store. Probably just trying to push the store brand to make a few cents.

    I'll shop around to make sure I get the the name brand stuff for future batches.

  • 2ajsmama

    Now I've made a mistake - I was so busy chopping and measuring to make sure I didn't go over on peppers and onions (I didn't put enough onion in last time) that I forgot the garlic! Also forgot to burp the jars, and since I skipped the sauce and put in 12oz of paste instead, the salsa's pretty thick. Should I reprocess (I see big air bubbles rising to the top in a couple of jars), or just refrigerate? Not enough headspace to freeze.

    If I do refrigerate, would it be best to break the seals on all the jars? We've got about a month's worth of salsa here - don't know if it would be OK to leave them sealed in the fridge for that long.

  • digdirt2

    Your choice - reprocess (assuming less than 24 hours old) and add the missing ingredients an dilute it or remove some from each jar and freeze it.

    Did you leave the sauce out on purpose or by accident? It really is needed in the recipe to avoid density safety problems so if you decide to reprocess you really need to add that sauce. The paste is an option but the sauce provides both acidity and helps reduce the density.


  • 2ajsmama

    Thanks - the notes someone posted to the recipe said the sauce was optional, so I just added the paste this time (last time I didn't have paste and the sauce made it too thin). I guess I'll reprocess - it's only been out of the water an hour.

    How thick is too thick?

  • 2ajsmama

    Actually, I have a lot of juice from the drained tomatoes that I saved (hoping to make "V-8" type juice for DH) - would it be safe to add say a cup of this back in (for 4 pints - I didn't process the last pint, just gave it to my uncle to stick in his fridge)?

    Or so I need canned tomato sauce? How much (recipe calls for up to 2C, I don't know how much is needed for safety)?


  • digdirt2

    Best to check with Annie then because as far as I know the paste is optional - Annie has said that many times - but the sauce isn't or the salsa is too think for canning. There have been several recent discussions about how too-thick salsa isn't safe to can. It is supposed to be soupy or it is too dense for safe heat penetration.

    I do recall telling someone that the salt is optional - that is clear - and I think it was you that asked before about using the salt-free tomato sauce and I said that was fine. But I sure didn't say you could leave out the sauce completely.

    But that sort of confusion is what happens when folks try to fool around with the recipe rather than just making it as it is written like they should. ;(

    Have no idea how much sauce would be needed now. 4 pints is approx. half a recipe so I'd guess approx. 1 cup. More sure isn't going to hurt if needed to make it the consistency it is supposed to be. And there is no reason you can't use some of the juice too if needed as long as everything is going back into the pot and re-processed from that point.


  • 2ajsmama

    No, I wasn't the one that asked about salt-free sauce, or leaving the salt out. When I made my first batch last Friday I found my can of paste was "bulgy" so I didn't use it and the salsa came out too thin for our tastes.

    I did send Annie an email.

    In your opinion, could I add a cup of the drained (reserved) juice back in, or would I have to use something more acidic (maybe 1/2C cider vinegar)?

    Maybe I shouldn't have given my uncle the unprocessed pint (or more? Peanut Butter jar plus another cup or so in a bowl). Would make it easier to figure out how to fix it.

    Worst case I'll open the 28oz jar of sauce and we'll have spaghetti tonight ;-)

  • 2ajsmama

    I found an 8oz can of sauce in my pantry, so will reprocess with that (and 1 Tbsp of minced garlic). But just for future reference, this batch looks to be about the same thickness as the Pace chunky I have in my pantry (1 of the 4 pints is a little looser). So is that OK for home-canned (1C ReaLime) or is that too thick?

  • balego_gw

    I decided to try making Annies salsa, having seen so many mentions of it in the forums. I used the recipe at the top of this thread, and I used cider vinegar/lemon juice/white vinegar together totalling the one cup. I have a question, though. Part way down this thread I spotted the discussion about measuring the tomatoes. I measured out 8 cups after peeling/seeding/draining and chopping, not realizing that I should have measured the cups out before I did the finer chopping and draining. I processed in BWB for 15 minutes, and I used half pint jars rather than pint. Will my salsa still be safe even though I messed up a bit on the order in which I measured tomatoes?

  • korney19

    maybe the half pint jars at the pint time will offset things? lets see what the experts think.

  • Pepfun1-2

    Hi there. I hate to beat a dead horse but again there is an Annie's Salsa question. Actually not a question, I've made this fantastic, unbeatable salsa for the past two years and just want to confirm that as of this date the vinegar measurement has stayed at 1 cup per batch? (or variations of lemon juice, lime juice & vinegar etc.)
    I see that the last comment on here from Annie was back in August of 2009 & she was waiting on the NCHFP to possibly make changes again. So, I'm just wanting to 'keep it safe' and make sure that no major changes have come up before I get to choppin'
    Thanks =)

  • malna

    I've been checking the NCHFP's salsa recipes, and they haven't changed theirs for at least two years. I'm "assuming" there haven't been any major changes in the vinegar measurements to date.

  • ahbee01

    Thanks for the question, I was just checking in too to make sure of no changes, I will be using the last Annie salsa recipe i have and put that in the post, so hoping that is the safest version! I love it and so does my whole family! I posted the latest recipe I have under "salsa info"
    So if it is all ago, I hope to be making some salsa soon, everything is way late in my garden!

  • swimcat14

    I know this is an old thread but I just started getting into canning because of my prolific garden this year and wanted to say that this recipe is great! I ended up using my new pressure canner as a BWB and made 6 pints with just enough left over to try. Its a hit already. My first time canning and all 6 sealed! Great recipe Annie! :)

  • msmarieh

    Well we are in 2013 now and I just wanted to check back to be sure there were never any salsa updates that would have impacted this recipe?? Otherwise, I'll assume it stands at 1 cup vinegar (lemon juice/etc.).

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