Preserving Salsa Safely

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TomatoesKeeping with the theme of Salsa Month, have you ever wondered if your favorite Salsa recipe is safe to can and have later in the year? It really depends on the recipe. One thing we do know, is you can not preserve fresh salsa. Fresh Salsa gets its yummy qualities from the fresh ingredients mixing together in just the right amounts. Many of those ingredients will change texture and flavor if they are heated (as we do in canning to preserve) or freezing. So, if it is fresh salsa you love, you just have to eat it while the ingredients are in season.

That doesn’t mean you can’t make a canned Salsa recipe that is shelf stable to eat later in the year. This is one of my favorite recipes from the National Center for Home Food Preservation, Choice Salsa. They also have a great resource if you want to preserve a variety of salsas to eat later in the year, Sensational Salsas and their website How Do I … Can Salsa?

When it comes to your own recipes, Salsas typically are mixtures of acid and low-acid ingredients; they are an example of an acidified food and appropriate for boiling water canning if the final pH of all components is less than 4.6. If the mixture has less acidity, there could be a botulism risk if it is canned. If it is acid enough for boiling water canning, the actual proportions of ingredients and preparation method will help determine what the canning process time should be. So, there is no way to tell someone how to can a homemade salsa without having detailed knowledge of the recipe, procedures used in preparation, and acidity and consistency of the final product. The proportions of your tomatoes, peppers, herbs and other vegetables will greatly influence what the safe canning process should be. With this in mind, I recommend that you compare your recipe to tested recipe to see if they are similar. Remember, it is not only the amounts of the various ingredients but also the preparation, such as size of pieces, whether cooked and other methods that can affect the final product and how heat and acid will penetrate the tomatoes, peppers, onions and other ingredients to ensure it is safe to can.

With all this in mind, try one of the recipes from the National Center For Home Food Preservation if you want to keep your salsa until later in the year to eat.