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Annie's Salsa Recipe and Notes 2012

7 years ago

Since it's salsa season, I thought I would post some additional notes I've made since the 2009 thread.

As far as I can tell, the NCHFP hasn't done any additional testing, so I am "assuming" this is the most current recipe and acidity requirements.

Please feel free to add any other notes - I've tried to address most of the other commonly asked questions.

Annie's Salsa Recipe

8 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped and drained

2-1/2 cups onion, chopped

1-1/2 cups green pepper, chopped

3 - 5 jalapenos, chopped

6 cloves garlic

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

1/8 cup canning salt

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup 5% apple cider vinegar

2 cups (16 oz.) tomato sauce

2 cups (16 oz.) tomato paste

Mix all ingredients, bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Pour into hot pint jars, seal and process in a boiling water canning bath for 15 minutes.

Makes about 6 pints.

Additional Notes for Ingredients and Processing:

8 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped and drained

*Any type or color of tomato may be used (paste, canning, beefsteak, a combination of different types, etc.) The paste types will be meatier, the canners such as Rutgers are somewhat juicier than paste types and the beefsteaks the juiciest of all.

*Some prefer, as Annie does, to remove the tomato seeds and gel sacks. Some don't remove the seeds - this is personal preference.

*Measure after peeling, chopping and draining.

2-1/2 cups onion, chopped

*Roughly a 1/4" chopped size (this is the size used in the NCHFP testing - a little larger won't matter, but try not to have the pieces larger than 1/2" maximum).

1-1/2 cups green pepper, chopped

*Roughly a 1/4" chopped size.

3 - 5 jalapenos, chopped

**Pepper Notes: Any combination of green, red, whatever color peppers is fine. 3-5 jalapenos equates to roughly 1/4 cup, so total peppers cannot exceed 1-3/4 cups. For a spicier salsa, you can decrease the sweet peppers and increase the hot peppers by the same amount. Or you can use hotter peppers (such as habaneros or serranos) but the TOTAL amount of peppers cannot exceed 1-3/4 cups.

6 cloves garlic, minced or finely diced

*Do not increase. Small differences in size of cloves should not matter.

2 teaspoons cumin

*For taste only. Can be reduced or left out entirely.

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

*For taste only. Can be reduced or left out entirely. Any dried ground pepper such as cayenne may be substituted for a portion of or all of the black pepper.

2 tablespoons (same measurement as 1/8 cup) canning salt

*For taste only. Can be reduced or left out entirely.

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

*Can be reduced or left out entirely. Do not increase. Dried cilantro or other dried herbs may be added, but not more fresh herbs (fresh herbs change the pH - dried herbs do not). Add additional fresh herbs only after you open the jar.

1/3 cup sugar

*For taste only. Can be reduced or left out entirely.

1 cup 5% apple cider vinegar

*Can use any flavor vinegar (white, cider, etc.) as long as acidity is at least 5%.

*However, you can substitute bottled lemon or lime juice in any proportions according to taste (for example, 1/3 cup vinegar, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 1/3 cup lime juice) as long as the total equals one cup.

2 cups (16 oz.) tomato sauce

*Can be reduced slightly. See "Density" notes below.

2 cups (16 oz.) tomato paste

*For texture only. Can be reduced or left out entirely.

Mix all ingredients, bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Pour into hot pint jars leaving 1/2" headspace, seal and process in a boiling water canning bath for 15 minutes. Adjust for your altitude (see below).

Makes about 6-7 pints (I always seem to get 7 pints).


You may:

Process in pint jars (either regular or wide mouth) or smaller (12 oz., 8 oz. half pints, or 4 oz. quarter pints). Process all smaller sizes at the same processing time for pints.

You may NOT:

Process in larger jars (24 oz., 32 oz. quarts or 1/2 gallon jars). Testing was done only in pint jars.


The recipe for pressure canning originally specified 1/3 cup vinegar and copies of that recipe are still available on the Internet. Pressure canning salsa has not been tested, therefore it is not officially recommended.

If you wish to pressure can the salsa, you must include full 1 cup of vinegar. Processing time that is currently used by some is 10 lbs. pressure for 30 minutes. Adjust for your altitude (see below).


Because salsa is eaten out of the jar without heating and includes low acid vegetables such as garlic, onions and peppers, it is one of the riskier products to can at home due to two factors: the pH or acidity level (the normal cutoff point for boiling water bath vs. pressure canning is a pH of 4.6 and salsa can edge very close to that) and the density of the product.

The salsa should be thin enough for the liquid portion to thoroughly suspend the chopped vegetables so the very center of the jar heats up to the same temperature as the outer portion next to the glass during processing.

If you want it thicker, puree it AFTER you open the jar. DO NOT puree before processing - this would affect the density. Or add a thickener such as Clear Jel or cornstarch AFTER you open the jar.

DO NOT add other low acid vegetables before processing, such as corn or black beans. Only add them after you open the jar.


If you live above 1000' in elevation, you need to calculate your altitude adjustments for both boiling water bath (BWB) and pressure canning (PC). As your altitude goes above 1000 feet the atmospheric pressure is reduced. This causes water to boil at temperatures lower than 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

For safety in water bath canning, you must bring the contents of your jar to at least 212 degrees Fahrenheit. To compensate for the lower boiling temperature at altitude, you must increase processing time.

For this salsa recipe, BWB times at altitudes of (per the Ball Blue Book):

Up to 1000 ft. Processing time is 15 minutes.

1001 - 3000 ft. Increase processing time an extra 5 minutes to 20 minutes total.

3001 - 6000 ft. Increase processing time an extra 10 minutes to 25 minutes total.

6001 - 8000 ft. Increase processing time an extra 15 minutes to 30 minutes total.

8001 - 10,000 ft. Increase processing time an extra 20 minutes to 35 minutes total.

Adjustments for pressure canning can be found in the Ball Blue Book or on their website.

Do make sure you know the altitude where you do your canning. People that live in Denver know they are in the Mile High City and have to make adjustments, but portions of cities like Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Oklahoma City are all above 1000' and it may be something you're not aware of and need to be compensating for.


The pH scale runs from 0 (very acidic) to 14 (very alkaline).

Each increment from 0 to 14 is 10 times more acidic/alkaline (remember the "magic" number of pH 4.6 for BWB vs. pressure canning). pH testing on fresh lemons ranged from 2.20 to 3.20, so one variety of lemon or even an individual lemon grown in a different orchard might be 10 times LESS acidic than another. Bottled lemon juice, which is processed to a standard acidity, is used for testing in recipes and is also pasteurized, therefore it also will not create any further enzyme reactions in your canned goods (per the folks at ReaLemon a couple of years ago).

Note: Bottled lemon or lime juices are only called for when canning borderline pH foods (tomatoes and salsa usually). If you are making jams and jellies with high acid fruits (any fruit excluding Asian pears, bananas, mangoes, figs and melons), feel free to use fresh lemon or lime juice.

Do I personally like using bottled lemon juice? Not particularly, but when a canning procedure SPECIFICALLY CALLS FOR IT, I use it without questioning it.

A very good explanation is in this publication from North Dakota State University - "Why add lemon juice to tomatoes and salsa before canning?"

Especially note the different pH values of individual varieties of tomatoes (and there are thousands more varieties).

and for the more science oriented, this 2004 paper from the NCHFP:

Studies on safe acidification of salsa for home boiling water canning

Hope this helps :-)

Comments (78)

  • cziga

    Ok, so the tomato sauce is an essential ingredient ... I understand ... tomato sauces vary a lot though, even commercial ones you buy in the market. Some are thicker than others, some are very plain and some have a lot of added herbs and flavors (roasted garlic, onion, even meat sometimes). Some people make their own sauce. So which tomato sauces are ok, or are ANY of them ok (and it is just the added liquid that is important)? Even homemade? Could I use my own sauce? Could I use my own canned crushed tomatoes (they are even more liquid, so the salsa would be even looser)? It seems that for something that is borderline safe, there is a lot of variation?

    I'm sorry for all the questions, by the way, but I'm just trying to understand :) Salsa is something I'd like to can a lot of, I can use it in lots of things over the winter, and as a snack as well, plus it is something I can give away ... and we have tons of tomatoes ... so I'd like to get it right.

  • digdirt2

    Just plain old Hunts or Contadina (just a couple of the brandnames) tomato sauce, none of the flavored ones. Tomatoes, salt, water and citric acid is all they have in them. Sure you can use your own home canned sauce, many do.

    You could use your own canned tomatoes if necessary but that would be double processing so not the best quality or the most efficient, especially since you have tons of tomatoes.

    Gifting home canned salsa isn't usually recommended simply because it is one of the most risky home canned foods. It is a low-acid vegetable mixture balanced on a fine line of pH and density that is easy to skew and then BWB canned. Which is why modifying it in any way isn't recommended. On top of that it is eaten fresh from the jar without the added protection of additional cooking. So many recipients will not trust it as they do high acid home canned foods like jams, jellies, pickles and such.


  • mrswaz

    Interesting discussion about updating the recipe. I've been canning Annie's salsa for about four years now- it's definitely my favorite, and I love playing with different hot pepper assortments for different flavors. This year I added a ghost pepper to one batch and I've affectionately called it "Annie's Ghost". That one's getting hotter as it sits...

    Anyway, I don't use the tomato sauce- I think it dilutes the flavor of the wonderful heirloom tomatoes and hot peppers I use. But I also don't peel, de-seed or drain my tomatoes- I use every drop of tomato liquid from chopping my tomatoes. The resulting salsa (without added tomato products)is actually quite watery and runny, so then I add one small 5 ounce can of tomato paste per batch. This thickens the salsa very slightly since it's just one small can. This takes it out of the runny/watery category, but it's still not anywhere near as thick as most commercial salsas.

    Gosh, the first time I made Annie's Salsa I followed the directions with the added tomato products, but I let it cook down for a good hour or so- it was really thick and chunky. Good thing no one suffered ill effects, and it was only that one batch!

  • annie1992

    Boy, this recipe just keeps coming back.

    The difference in the pressure canning recipe and the BWB recipe is that I pressure canned the first batches because they had not been approved. I had to add more vinegar/acid because I wanted to BWB it. Lemon and lime juices have been subbed for the vinegar with good results, I understand. Since those ingredients are more acidic than vinegar, it's an OK substitution.

    The only version of this recipe that has been approved is the water bath version that calls for one cup of vinegar. I believe the pressure canned version is safe or I wouldn't have done it, but I can't guarantee that. It was not approved. I also cannot guarantee the recipe if changes are made. Again, I believe it's safe, but it's not approved.

    As for density, I only use my homegrown tomatoes, such as Bonny Best and Rutgers, plus whatever else I have on hand. This year it's Great White, Golden Jubilee, Mortgage Lifter. I've used the ever prolific SunGold, but I don't peel 'em, that's too tedious, LOL. I have never used Roma or paste tomatoes, so I can't tell you about the density of the sauce if you use those. I probably wouldn't use the additional paste in that case but again, that's not how the recipe was made when approved and it has not been retested. Given the cuts in funding to the state universities, I think the possibility of it ever being retested is pretty slim/next to none, and my friend at the extension service also retired. (sigh)

    I'd love to make a batch with just the Great White tomatoes, but I don't think I'll get enough at one time. I think it would make some unusual looking salsa, though.

    It's funny, this has been my most popular recipe and I don't even really care for salsa. I make a couple of batches a year and seldom eat it, the tomatoes and onion give me horrific heartburn. I'm sure glad everyone else is enjoying it, though!

    Yeah, I'm still around. My tomatoes are finally ripe so I'm canning the Basil Tomato Sauce from Ellie Topp that Readinglady/Carol posted and KatieC's Smokey Chipotle Catsup today Life's been busier now that I've retired than it was before, I don't know how that happened.

    Happy Canning.


  • Kerry Vetter

    I started to make this last night but has to stop (due to little ones deciding it really wasn't bed time!), so I put the tomatoes (chopped, peeled and measured) and the chopped, measured onions in the pan, covered in the fridge. Do you see ANY reason that would cause a problem if I pick up right where I left off and continue to make & can the salsa? Thanks.

  • swimcat14

    Okay.. so I worked off the 2009 thread which said the sauce was optional... I canned 6 pints without the sauce. Do I have to chuck it? :(

  • malna


    Sure, you can pick up where you left off. No problem.


    As long as your salsa wasn't super thick, you're fine.

  • cziga

    Annie, you mentioned making a batch with Great White tomatoes... funny enough, I'm growing Great White tomatoes this summer and just picked a bunch of them. I thought I'd try it (although I made it for freezing, instead of canning). It sounded very cool ...

    As it turns out, the taste is great, but the colour wasn't as cool as I thought it would be. Once you add the peppers (green) and chili pepper (green), and cilantro etc, it pretty much turns out greenish ... not a cool glowing creamy colour like I expected :) You'd really need to find pale peppers as well, then it might be neat.

    We have orange peppers/tomatoes, yellow peppers/tomatoes, red peppers/tomatoes, and green peppers/tomatoes (I made a roasted green salsa as well - with green everything) but no pale yellow/white peppers to use for this one ...

  • bella_trix

    This might be a nice pepper to use with your Great White tomatoes. Ever since I first saw it, I've wanted this pepper, but I could think of a use for it.



    Here is a link that might be useful: White peppers

  • Christina818

    It is salsa time here!I know this is an older post but I had clipped this to use when I make salsa. In my quest to get prepared for salsa making this coming weekend I pulled up the clip. I must say after reading this I am beyond confused. Could somebody please provide a link to where this recipe was tested and approved.
    Thanks so much.

    This post was edited by Christina818 on Thu, Aug 8, 13 at 16:00

  • digdirt2

    Confused about what specifically?

    Annie paid to have the recipe tested, several times and over a 1 or 2 year period as I recall, in a food testing lab available through her local county extension service. Her recipe has since been vetted numerous times.

    All of the modifications people keep trying to make in the basic recipe have not. So what has you hung up?


  • Christina818

    Ok I guess all of the changes are what got me hung up. I assumed it had been tested. I just did not read on here how it was tested. I guess I just needed to read that it had been tested to feel confident. It is a lot like the one I make at home minus the bell pepper, spices and the sauces. Oh and of course the vinegar. Thanks so much Dave. I will follow the recipe the way it was tested. Thanks again.

  • digdirt2

    I understand. It seems every time we turn around someone is trying to "adjust" this or "leave this out" or "add this instead" rather than just making the recipe as written.


  • loriash

    Not to spark up the modification debate again, you think it would be fine to skip the cilantro and use coriander seed instead?

  • annie1992

    Lori, I think that would be fine, substituting the same amount of another herb is an acceptable modification.

    Dave, I didn't pay to have it tested. It was tested via a friend at the local extension service of the state university. It took several modifications and nearly 5 years to get it right and if the National Center for Home Food Preservation changes their recommendations on salsa there will be no way for me to get it tested again.

    At least I see on the website for NCHFP that they now say it's safe to re-use mayonnaise jars, etc., so sometimes rules are made more relaxed instead of more stringent. I can only hope it happens with the salsa recommendations but I doubt it.

    cziga, it's been a year so it's probably moot, but I used red peppers in place of some of the green, and a mix of red and green jalapenos, so it actually came out really pretty but a bit too sweet although I added no sugar at all. My Great White tomatoes had almost a citrus type flavor, more fruity than my red types.


  • Christina818

    Annie I made your salsa. Funny I did the same thing with the peppers when I made mine. I was planning on leaving the sugar out but I couldn't it was way to vinegary for our taste and I only used a 1/4 c. cup vinegar and 3/4 c. Lemon juice. The sugar cut the vinegar taste completely out. Great recipe! I made 24 pints of this on Saturday and we had salsa chicken for dinner. It was super! Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  • ahbee01

    It is great to see Annie's Salsa is still a big hit! I lurk here when I can. Last 2 years my entire gardens been a big bust! This year I think I will have enough tomatoes to get to can a few batches of Annie's salsa! I just finished cutting up my first batch it's in the fridge to finish up in the morning. This batch will be entered into my local fair,and I'm super excited about it as I never entered salsa before! I have entered the Habanero Gold one time and took the top prize which was second in that category,I guess they felt no one made anything worthy of first prize! I did get the top prize money! Which was 3.00! LOL!!! I had never entered before so I was happy I placed at all! Since it has bits in it it has to be entered as a jam!!! Anyway just wanted to say hi, and it's good to see so many of you still come here from when I first found this site!!! Have a great rest of a harvest season!!!! Brenda

  • judo_and_peppers

    forgive the additional "noob that wants to modify an approved recipe" question on an already very long thread.

    but with all this talk of how borderline safe canned salsa is, could I just add some more lemon or lime juice or more vinegar, to give myself more room for error? I'm more of a hot sauce maker, so salsa is a new frontier for me. when I make hot sauce I always add more vinegar than is necessary, and boil and BWB process for longer than is called for, just to be on the safe side. botulism scares the crap outta me, and I always try to play it safe.

    and what about using store bought diced tomatoes instead of fresh? I grow lots and lots of peppers, but I don't grow tomatoes. there is a farmers market up the road, so if it must be fresh tomatoes it's no big deal, I can do that. if I do have to go with fresh, what's the best kind to buy? I see a lot of options up there, I guess i should ask: what's the safest kind of tomato to use? I'm no tomato connoisseur so I probably won't really be able to tell the difference in taste. I just want a safe salsa.

  • annie1992

    Jude, it's always OK to add more of the acidic ingredient, but not less. Just be careful, you could compromise the flavor with too much vinegar or lemon juice.

    As for the "safest" tomato, I don't think that's really definable. I use my old fashioned heirloom tomatoes, a mix of all varieties that grew well that year. This year it was Pineapple, Mortgage Lifter, Rutgers, Great White and Cherokee Purple. Next year it will be something else. Many people like the roma types because they are less juicy, and since there is so much flavor in the other ingredients I think they'd be fine. I'm just not a fan of the roma types, I think they lack flavor, others will disagree. (shrug) Taste is subjective, not objective.

    The acidity level in tomatoes will vary based not only on variety, but on growing conditions, soil, weather, your climate, too many uncontrollable factors and variables, so use what grows well that you can get and add the acid, it'll be fine.

    I've never tried it with canned tomatoes but I don't see why it wouldn't work. Since they are already cooked, though, you're going to have a different texture at least. I'm going to have to think hard to find any reason it wouldn't be OK, though I think it is not optimal.

    Annie (yes, THAT Annie)

  • drzany

    Wow, Annie! What an honor to follow your post... :D This will be my third year making your salsa recipe. I did a grand experiment this summer, planting over 30 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes, 2 each, a la Noah's Between getting them in very late, with plants too long in their seedling pots...and a screwy growing season this year in Maine...I thought I would be lucky to get a few. Thanks to frost covers several nights, I was able to finish a sizeable late harvest just 5 days ago. So I am happily swimming in maters (and peppers, too).

    I just wanted to chiime in with several of the posters here. After finishing a master food preserver course through the U-of-Maine-Extension, I cannot stress enough the importance of following tested recipes and the step-by-step canning instructions. One of the most valuable aspects of food preservation I learned is the "why" behind the way things are done or not done. This really cemented in my brain that there is a definite safety and/or quality reason for each recipe/process. And why ad-lib an approved recipe/technique at the risk of health or spoiling something I spent all season growing from seed?

    If there is a master food preserver course in anybody's state, I cannot recommend it highly enough, and the cost was extremely reasonable considering what you are provided in the course.

    I can almost hear my tomatoes continuing to ripen off the vine...time to salsify asap! Thanks again, Annie, for a wonderful recipe that is so wildly popular.

    Happy canning everyone... :)

    This post was edited by drzany on Sat, Oct 26, 13 at 20:27

  • back2myroots

    I can't believe I spent the last 2 hours reading this thread! A couple faux pas. Salsa too new to home canning - my "Ball Blue Book", dated 1985, has a recipe for canning salsa. It does NOT call for "draining" tomatoes after they are chopped and it does NOT call for tomato sauce or tomato paste. I suppose if you don't squeeze the juice out of the tomatoes you wouldn't need to add tomato sauce to thin it to a properly slushy consistency for the heat to get to the center of the jar while processing. Otherwise, recipes are very similar.


  • seysonn

    Mix all ingredients, bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Pour into hot pint jars, seal and process in a boiling water canning bath for 15 minutes.
    I am only interested in making just ONE pint and start using it immediately, and refrigerate. I want it to last for at least couple of months. What is the procedure for that ?

    I want least amount of vinegar and sugar, because I like to taste the ingredient. That much vinegar and sugar will overwhelm the taste of tomato, pepper, ..etc. Some lemon/lime juice is ok.

    I do not believe in cooking cilantro for 25 minute and still have some flavor left in it. Cilantro does not cook well, freeze well and dry well. It is best to be used fresh and raw.
    How about some tomatillos?
    Thank you

  • canfan

    You could cut the recipe in half, then half again to achieve your wish to have only a pint of this recipe to can. You can leave out the cilantro, if you wish, and you can sub tomatillos for the red tomatoes. It won't be Annie's Salsa, though. You may find something to your liking in this book:

  • seysonn

    THANK YOU ..But point was/is that I dont want to "CAN". I want it be refrigerated for immediate use. I know how to change the proportions.

  • 2ajsmama

    Small Batch has some recipes to be used fresh or frozen, though I can't think off the top of my head whether there are any salsa or tomatillo salsa recipes. NCHFP has a tomatillo salsa recipe. But I don't think anything will last in fridge for a couple of months.

  • malna

    For refrigerator storage, just make up your own recipe. You don't need to be concerned about acidity levels, etc.

    I will tell you though, it won't last a couple of months if you use it. I did a test, albeit not under controlled laboratory conditions, a couple of years ago using 4 small (4 oz.) jars of salsa. I did can them first, however. To close them up, I used the original lid and a plastic storage lid over that. I did sneak a peek every day or whenever I remembered to check them.

    Jar A was opened and half the contents removed over a period of three or four days (spoonful at a time like we would usually use it), then closed back up.
    Jar B was opened and just a spoonful was removed, then closed back up.
    Jar C was opened and a spoonful was removed, but I added a small spoonful of lime juice, stirred it around and closed it back up.
    Jar D was opened and immediately closed back up.

    All went in the fridge (mine ranges from 34-37 degrees). Now DH will say, on occasion, our fridge does look like a science experiment, but probably no worse than the average one.

    Jar A was moldy in 9 days after the last spoonful was removed.
    Jar B was moldy in 19 days around the rim and on the sides of the jar that were exposed.
    Jar C was moldy in 28 days, so the additional acid seemed to help delay the mold.
    Jar D lasted the longest, but still showed signs of mold in 47 days.

    I guess the point is, the more you open it and expose it to the environment in the kitchen or on the dinner table, it will get moldy rather quickly.

  • digdirt2

    But point was/is that I dont want to "CAN". I want it be refrigerated for immediate use. I know how to change the proportions.

    Then just change the proportions, make a jar of it and stick it in the fridge.

    It won't keep for a "couple of months" without canning it or adding preservatives and stabilizers like commercial products do but you'll find that out for yourself. Just remember that with "least amount of vinegar" pathogenic bacteria can grow in it.


  • drzany

    Great experiment Maina.

    For Seysonn - So maybe a way to do it is to make a pint of salsa, and divide into 4 servings by filling four 4oz. jars with almost zero headspace to keep out as much oxygen as possible, and make sure there is at least a teaspoon of BOTTLED lime juice in each jar (BOTTLED, not fresh squeezed or in those little plastic squirt bottles, lime juice = totally compatible with salsa flavor, and more acidic than vinegar)...this way, maybe you can delay the mold further. (Note that the fresh salsa's in your deli section are quite vinegary, too) Put them in the coldest part of your refrigerator, and then open them one at a time, as you go through them. Discard anything that develops mold. This way, you can enjoy your salsa and do your own experiment to see how long they CAN last for you. Also, since your modifications/preferences kind of negate using the Annie's Salsa recipe, why not just google "salsa recipes with tomatillo", and you are bound to come up with a zillion for refrigeration. Good luck!

    p.s. Not knowing your situation, I think this is fine if you are buying the produce to make the salsa, but if you grow your own tomatoes/peppers/etc. from scratch, why take the chance of premature spoilage? Just CAN it, using a safe tested recipe, whether it's Annies, or any of the many you can find through university extension websites and canning books... :D

  • NilaJones

    Wait, what, the plastic limes and lemons are not ok?!? Why not?

    And Malna, that experiment was awesome :). Are you a scientist?

  • digdirt2

    Wait, what, the plastic limes and lemons are not ok?!? Why not?

    Depends on what they are loaded with. The ones with the ReaLemon/lime tags are the same as the bottled juice but not so with many of the others.

    The bottled juices are tested and stabilized to a specific pH while pH varies greatly with fresh and other sources.


  • drzany

    Yes. Similar thing with vinegars. For canning, acidity level should be at least 5%. This is for safety reasons. If it's not listed on the label someplace, don't use it. This applies to the vinegars only, not the lemon/lime % is on the label.

    This post was edited by drzany on Wed, Nov 6, 13 at 12:38

  • NilaJones

    Thanks, Dave. The tag is long gone, but I will pull the plastic lime out of the trash and see if there's a name molded into the plastic.

  • AiliDeSpain

    Is out okay to sub tomatillos for half of the tomatoes in terms of acidity/density etc.?

  • digdirt2

    Is out okay to sub tomatillos for half of the tomatoes in terms of acidity/density etc.?

    Yes as they are more acidic than tomatoes. But the total amount of tomato ingredients has to be the same and it will be a very different flavor.


  • malna

    I've linked the recently updated (June 2014) publication from Oregon State University for salsa (scroll down under Fruits and Vegetables). In it, they state that "Underripe green tomatoes or tomatillos can be substituted for ripe tomatoes". Utah State and U of Wisconsin say the same thing, but their publications are older.

    So, I would say yes, you can.

    I will say that last year, I had some of Annie's Salsa left that wouldn't fill a jar, and some tomatillo salsa that wouldn't quite fill a jar (yeah, I was in marathon canning mode that day). I mixed them together as an experiment, and canned the one 1/2 pint jar. I split the two types 50/50.

    I personally didn't care for it. The whole was definitely less than the sum of the parts. But your taste buds may (and probably do) differ from mine.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Salsa Recipes for Canning (OSU)

  • joannelj

    My question is about peeling, chopping, and draining the tomatoes. Do they need to be blanched? By the time I do that, they look more like a pile from a can of crushed tomatoes, than nice chopped tomatoes. And there is so much juice!

    mrswaz says

    "Anyway, I don't use the tomato sauce- I think it dilutes the flavor of
    the wonderful heirloom tomatoes and hot peppers I use. But I also don't
    peel, de-seed or drain my tomatoes- I use every drop of tomato liquid
    from chopping my tomatoes. The resulting salsa (without added tomato
    products)is actually quite watery and runny, so then I add one small 5
    ounce can of tomato paste per batch. This thickens the salsa very
    slightly since it's just one small can. This takes it out of the
    runny/watery category, but it's still not anywhere near as thick as most
    commercial salsas."

    Which is what I was thinking about doing, but I had a few questions. Are the chunks of peeling obvious in the finished product? Do you measure the 8 cups of chopped tomatoes, and then add the juice in place of the sauce? Or is the juice part of you 8 cup measurement?



  • digdirt2

    <My question is about peeling, chopping, and draining the tomatoes. Do they need to be blanched? By the time I do that, they look more like a pile from a can of crushed tomatoes, than nice chopped tomatoes. And there is so much juice!>

    Blanched? No. They are just dipped to peel as per normal with tomatoes. If that results is a pile of crushed tomatoes then you are probably using very over-ripe tomatoes. The amount of juice depends on the type/variety of tomatoes used. Especially juicey beefsteaks may benefit from some draining but it isn't required.

    What so many forget is that to be safely canned salsa has to be soupy - to slosh around freely in the jars - when it goes into the jars or you don't get proper heat penetration. If it is overly soupy then you can always drain the jars after opening. And, when filling the jars properly any left over excess juice remains in the pan and gets tossed anyway. So the amount of excess juice isn't really a big issue.

    As to the rest - some insist on making changes in the instructions and choose to ignore the safety factors their changes might create. Not peeling increases the bacterial count substantially. If that risk is acceptable to you, fine. For most it isn't acceptable.

    The peeling left on turns into tough chewy pieces that affect texture. Some claim it is no big deal. For others it is.

    Removing the seeds or not is also your choice. Some don't mind the bitterness they add, some do. Some don't mind the change in texture and appearance they cause, some do.

    And thickening the sauce beyond what is called for in the recipe affects the density and heat penetration - both safety factors.

    So the options are to make the salsa as called for in the instructions and know it is safe and of high quality and can be drained AFTER opening the jars. Or make whatever changes you wish as long as you understand the increased risks created by your changes. Since salsa is eaten fresh from the jar with no further cooking to destroy any toxins that may have developed it would seem that safety should be the primary concern.

    <Do you measure the 8 cups of chopped tomatoes, and then add the juice in place of the sauce? Or is the juice part of you 8 cup measurement?>

    The recipe calls for "8 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped and drained". So you peel, chop, drain, measure 8 cups. The drained juice is NOT added - it went down the drain. Will there still be some juice in the 8 cups? Yes. It isn't as if you drain them for hours. It's like draining pasta - into the colander, sit for a minute or two, and then into the measuring cup. And that remaining juice gets added with the tomatoes.



  • joannelj

    Thank you for the information about tomato peels and bacteria - I've read the recipe and notes several times, and I don't believe that was mentioned.

    I am not trying to mess with the recipe's safety - quite the contrary. I'm very paranoid about it. That's why I thought using the juice instead of the tomato sauce might be a good idea - making the product thinner. I didn't forget that salsa needs to be soupy - I was trying to make it soupier. The section on density made me want to err on the side of too thin, not too thick. mrswaz had mentioned she did it this way, and no one pointed out that it was a problem, so I thought I would ask for clarification. My bad.

  • digdirt2

    No "bad" about it. :) Sure you don't have to drain them and it will make it soupier (depending on the variety used. But then she followed up by adding tomato paste to thicken it back up - sort of defeats the purpose. Point is, the recipe is perfectly safe as written but it is possible to make it too dry and thick by either using only Roma tomatoes or excessively draining the tomatoes. So if you want to add that juice back in thats fine but it isn't used to replace the sauce.


  • annie1992

    Dave is right, I drained the tomatoes because I use a combination of whatever tomatoes I have ripe in the garden, and it's never Roma because I just don't grow those. So my lovely beefsteak types make the salsa pretty thin, sometimes. Hence, I drain them.

    As Dave also mentioned, the salsa is eaten from the jar, unheated to kill any possible toxins. It's something I'm ultra-careful with because of that.

    I've canned tomato products without peeling the tomatoes and do not like the end result, those pieces of peel seem like little bits of paper, very noticeable to me, probably not so much to someone who is not as weird about texture as I am.

    Tomatillo? That's intriguing, but only because I was foolish enough to plant six tomatillo plants. I've been slicing them and frying them like green tomatoes and they are very delicious, but I made tomatillo salsa last year and was not enamoured.

    Anyway, happy canning!


  • starchild2008

    We've used this recipe for years, we don't use tomato sauce, we use fresh tomatoes, leave out the sugar, and cumin and bell pepper, and we use super hot chile peppers and 5 jalapenos per batch. We use lemon juice instead of vinegar because I can't stand the aftertaste of vinegar, it takes like store bought salsa. I've never had a problem. I always use a pressure cooker for my salsa.

  • Cheryl

    Wow, this is one LONG thread! I am here looking for a salsa recipe to try since my family recipe, spicy Ketchup, which is more like a salsa , I have recently found out it is not safe to can, even though my family has done so for over 75 years. Not to beat a dead horse, but , I have seen differing opinions if you can change the dried herbs and their amounts, but keeping exact amounts on everything else. Thanks in advance for any advice

  • digdirt2

    Dried herbs and seasonings do not alter the safety, the pH or the density, of the product so they can be used as desired. The differing opinions on their use is directed at the effect they have on the flavor, the taste since some grow quite intense during storage and others fade away completely. They can be changed but you may not like the resulting flavor - that is the issue, not safety.


  • Cheryl

    Thank you Dave!

  • suelena01

    I am a little confused reading through a few comments. I was directed here through a link when I saw someone mention "Annie's Salsa Recipe" on a different web site. So.. is this her recipe or is this someone who took her recipe and changed it up? I was interested in Annie's recipe for the fact that it was tested and deemed safe and everyone seems to love the salsa.

    Thank you for your help!


  • morz8

    Hi Suelena....Truthfully, I haven't read through all the above to compare ;-) But here is Annie's Salsa noted by Annie herself in the second post of the thread and just last year. It's very good! Hope that helps....

  • digdirt2

    Yeah the original recipe is Annie's. Unfortunately some people keep trying to make modifications to it and still calling it Annie's Salsa (which they shouldn't do) - thus all these other threads about it under the same name. Stick with the original recipes as posted by Annie herself in the link morz gave you.


  • annie1992

    Dave is right, it's my recipe. BUT and that's a big but, it was tested and found to be safe to can only without additions, modifications, various changes and incarnations. So, we could say it SHOULD be safe or it MIGHT be safe, or it's PROBABLY safe when changes are made, but it was only tested one way, using specific ingredients and techniques.

    I will add that since salsa has become such a popular condiment, it's being retested by various extension services and agencies, and the recommendation may become to add more vinegar/lemon/lime juice to ensure safety. Since salsa is consumed as made, and not heated, it's an item that has to be handled/prepared more carefully.

    Happy Canning!


  • gardenqueen87

    I just made it tonight, so good! Thank you! (Cutting down on the sugar does not decrease it's safety, right?)

  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC

    No it doesn't decrease safety. The sugar can be left out entirely if you wish. I will usually use ripe peppers (if I have some) in place of the green peppers. That increases the sweetness enough that I only use about 1/4 cup of sugar.

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