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Fresh garden salsa (that you can enjoy in February).

September 9, 2015

Weighing tomatoes before making fresh garden salsa (canned!)

I got a new kitchen scale, dudes.

This is exciting for me. It took a long time to find one that was what I wanted. I didn’t want digital. I wanted an old-school analog one- vintage styled. Jay and I really wanted an actual vintage one, but we were worried about the calibration of a true vintage scale. We didn’t want to buy one then find out it needed to be overhauled. So then we got some gift cards for Williams-Sonoma (for either our wedding or a late-housewarming gift) and we found this one by Salter for Williams-Sonoma. SCORE!

So we ordered it and it came and it’s lovely. Just what I had in mind. Vintage look, but brand new.

Weighing tomatoes for some fresh garden salsa.

And I’ve got lots of tomatoes, all fresh from my backyard. Yep, the garden is still kickin’! Indigo Apples, Cosmonaut Volkov’s, Globe’s, Amish Paste’s and Super Sweet 100’s. They’ve all gotta be used, and one can only eat so many fresh. Or in a salad. So… naturally, everything I make preserve with tomatoes; i.e. tomato jam or sauce or salsa, I need to weigh them first. Conveniently.

And that leads me to our recipe today:

Canned fresh garden salsa- enjoy your garden in the middle of the winter!

I looooooove salsa. Oh man. I could eat salsa all day, every day. Green, red, I don’t care. Hot salsa, medium salsa, salsa with black beans and corn. I love it all. The only ones I will not eat are peach salsas or mango salsas. I’m a purist, see. Tomatoes & peppers only for me. With loads of cilantro. LOADS. I love it tossed into a fresh salad topped with tortilla strips, shredded cheese and sometimes grilled chicken. I also love it on chips, with guacamole. And who doesn’t love it on burritos?

I’ve been wanting to make a preserved salsa for a few years now. I thought, how great would it be to pop open a jar of fresh salsa made from MY garden in the middle of winter? But oddly enough, I never had enough tomatoes at once that were ripe enough or ready. This year we hit the motherlode. These photos don’t even include all of the tomatoes I harvested the week of this salsa! Thanks, Dr. Earth!

Note: this salsa is canned. Preserved. In shelf-stable, sealed jars. Processed in a water bath. If that isn’t your bag, don’t worry! I have a fresh fresh salsa recipe for you right here.

I know, I know. I’m sorry about all the canning (not really). It’s that time of year, guys! If anything, this should inspire you and make you realize anyone can do this.

Fresh garden salsa!

FRESH GARDEN SALSA (for canning- adapted from Food In Jars’ recipe at Mrs. Wages)

Makes about 4-5 pints, depending on tomato size, etc


  • 6 cups chopped tomatoes (roughly 3 lbs.)
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar 5% acidity
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar (5 % acidity)
  • 3 medium garden salsa peppers*, chopped and de-seeded (unless you like that extra heat)
  • 1 large sweet red Bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1 large onion**, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced


  1. Prepare your clean jars and lids, set aside.
  2. Add all ingredients- except cilantro- to a large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. When that time has passed, remove from heat and stir in cilantro.
  3. Ladle hot salsa into jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Wipe rims and add lids and bands. Process for 15 minutes in a waterbath. Remove, and after 12 hours check seals. Any unsealed salsa must go into the fridge. All sealed jars will last for one year in a cool, dark place.
*You can substitute jalapeños, or any other similar pepper that you have
** I used yellow- you can use white or red, too

Fresh canned garden salsa.

Those cute little black labels? Also Ikea. Remember when I mentioned the new labels they have now? This is another kind! I love them. GO GET THEM NOW- they’re limited edition!

Okay, so for me, this made exactly 4 pints. I split the final pint into two 8-oz. jars, one of which I popped in the fridge for immediate use. I told you. I love salsa. Now, I wouldn’t mess too much with this recipe if you’re going to process it. The amounts have been specifically calculated for the proper acidity, etc. If you want to experiment, make a fresh salsa. If your salsa is too watery, you can definitely strain some of the liquid out before eating, or avoid using the seeds/juice of your tomatoes. Make sure it isn’t a pico de gallo texture, you need some of that liquid/vinegar/lime juice to make it acidic enough to preserve. However, removing a bit of liquid after it’s open won’t do any harm. You can also cook it a little longer to help release some pectin in the tomatoes, or you can just zap it with an immersion blender while its cooking. All of these things will help “thicken” the salsa.

Canned fresh garden salsa- enjoy your garden in the middle of the winter!

All that said, the recipe isn’t for a thick salsa- it’s for a thinner, restaurant style salsa. However blending it with a stick blender will give you a smoother sauce for sure, and will not effect the canning acidity/pH at all.

And no- it does not matter what kind of tomatoes you use. I used a mix of fully ripe and semi-ripe heirloom varieties and had excellent results. Also that’s why my salsa color is a bit orange-y instead of deep red. Yes- its okay to sneak in some green tomatoes! I swear! Now go use up all those gorgeous garden fresh tomatoes! Because… while I don’t want to say that this is the last hurrah, it probably is. Sure, I’ll have tomatoes into October most likely. But they won’t be like this.

Tomatoes for fresh garden salsa.

Oh- and garden salsa peppers are a little less hot than jalapeños. Just by a smidge. Yes, like I said, you can substitute jalapeños for these in the recipe above, or any other hot pepper; shishitos, Ring Of Fire peppers, Jimmy Nardello, Cuban Belle, regular Cayenne’s, even Habanero. Just be aware of the heat and taste of your pepper before using it to avoid wasting 4-5 pints of salsa. And remember that the longer the pepper is on the plant, the hotter it gets. Red hot peppers will always be hotter than green ones- and if the skin is cracking on them, they’re gonna be even hotter (this is particularly true of jalapeños). Be careful when adding peppers and taste as you go if you’re able. If you like it hot, then go for the gold!

And here are some more ideas for making your own salsa (not preserved) from Better Homes & Gardens.

Suggestions for use: Right out of the jar on chips, on enchiladas/burritos/tacos/etc, on grilled chicken, on salads, mixed with guacamole, stir into macaroni and cheese.
Soundtrack: Ritchie Valens – “La Bamba”
Sources & Credits: All jars by Ball®/Kerr®;, Salter kitchen scale; Williams-Sonoma, Hemsmak limited edition black labels on jars; Ikea, tea towels; Ikea.
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