How to Can Zesty Salsa

Each summer I look forward to the tomatoes finally ripening so I can make homemade salsa. The freshness from the garden veggies and the vinegar makes a delicious treat that cannot be bought from the store. Come into my kitchen with me and let’s learn How to Can Zesty Salsa.

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What You Need:

To make one recipe, which produces 6 pints, you will need the following ingredients:

Tomatoes: You will need 10 cups of peeled diced tomatoes (about 5 pounds). Although any variety of tomatoes will work for making salsa, paste tomatoes have less liquid, so they work well in salsa.

Bell Peppers: 5 cups of diced green or colored bell peppers (3 pounds). If you don’t have bell peppers, use any variety of pepper( non spicy) you have on hand. It does not have to be the bell pepper variety.

Onions: 5 cups diced onions (3 pounds). Again, any variety except red onions.

Garlic: 3 cloves of fresh peeled garlic. Fresh garlic is a must for salsa. Any variety will do.

Spicy peppers: 2 1/2 cups jalapenos diced. Depending on how spicy you want your salsa you may leave in the seeds for spicy or take out the seeds for less spice.

Sea Salt: 1 tbsp. sea salt. Sea salt is a great option for canning. I use Himalayan pink salt from Azure Standard.

Apple Cider Vinegar: 1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar. I buy apple cider vinegar from Azure Standard in five-gallon buckets. It is more economical this way and the flavor is way better than store bought. Make sure any apple cider vinegar you decide to purchase is 5% acidity for canning safety.

Water bath canner: A water bath canner is basically a large pot with a lid. Granite Ware 21.5-quart canner or stainless-steel water bath canner are just a few options.

Jars, lids, and rings: Use the proper canning jars either wide mouth or regular. You can find them at your local store or Azure Standard canning jars. My favorite lids are Superb Lids.

Canning tools: Usually you can find these canning tools in a set, but you need a jar grabber, headspace measuring device, debubbler, and funnel.

How to Can Zesty Salsa

I am using a recipe based off of the Zesty Salsa recipe in the book Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. I love having offline resources for my home library and this book is one of my favorites. Don’t get me wrong online and Google is great, but nothing beats having a hardcopy at your fingertips.

Set up your canning supplies

First, wash your canning jars. Use this time to inspect your jars for any chips or cracks. Set them aside for now. Fill your water bath canner a third of the way full. Remember the weight of your jars will raise the water level.

We are making one batch of salsa which makes six pints. In my pictures you will see quart size jars because that is the size I use to preserve salsa (we love salsa!).

Prep your tomatoes

Salsa is truly a labor of love, but the end results are so worth it! The first step is to take the skins off of the tomatoes. In my opinion, this is a tedious process. I have tried to skip it before and finding bits of tomato skins in the final product was very off putting. So, just put on a good podcast or your favorite YouTube channel for entertainment and you will be done in no time.

Wash the tomatoes to get any dirt or debris off of the fruit.

Score the bottom of your tomato by making a x shape. This will make the skins easier to peel.

On the stove, heat a pot of water just below boiling. Place the scored tomatoes into the hot water for 30 seconds.

Take the tomatoes out of the water. When the tomato is cool enough to handle, peel the skins off of the tomato. Core and dice the tomatoes. Place them in a large stock pot on the stove. Do not turn on the heat just yet.

Next, dice the green peppers, jalapenos, onions, and garlic. Put them in the pot with the tomatoes.

The vegetables from the garden are not all ready for harvest at the same time. For example, the onions are ready at the beginning of July whereas the tomatoes are ripe in the middle of August. I keep diced onions and peppers in my freezer in gallon size bags waiting for projects like these. It saves so much time to have everything prechopped.

Now that you have all the ingredients in the pot bring the salsa to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes to thicken the salsa. Sometimes depending on what tomatoes I am using the salsa is waterier than I like. I use my ladle and scoop out some of the liquid. (Don’t throw away the liquid you can water bath can it or use it in soup.)

When the salsa is the consistency you like, pour in the apple cider vinegar. Stir to combine.

Ladle the salsa into your cleaned canning jars. Leave a 1/2 inch headspace. Debubble your jars, wipe down the rim with a clean cloth, place on the lid and rings.

Lower the jars into the water bath canner. Adjust the water level so that the jars are covered by 2 inches. Secure the lid on the water bath canner and bring the water to a boil. Once the water is at a rolling boil start the timer. Process times for pints are 15 minutes and quarts are 20 minutes. If you are at a higher elevation, you may need to adjust your processing times. For more information check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.

After 20 minutes has passed, turn off the heat and carefully take off the lid. Let the canner sit and cool off for a minimum of 5 minutes. Use your jar grabbers and take out the jars and place them on a towel lined countertop.

The jars need to cool for several hours. When they are cool, take off the rings, check for a proper seal. The lid should be sucked down flat with no movement and should fit tightly on the jar. Wash the jars, label them, and store them in a cool place out of direct sunlight.

How Long Can I Store the Salsa

The salsa could sit on the shelf indefinitely as long as the jar remains sealed, but that does not mean the contents will taste good. The recommendation is to use canned goods within one year.

I canned an abundance of green tomato salsa a few years back (three years old now). Unfortunately, we did not work through them, and we just opened a jar at the beginning of 2023. The salsa has lost its flavor, the texture is slightly mushy, and the vinegar is flat. These jars of salsa are going to go to the animals.

Try to can what your family will eat within 1-2 years. You don’t want to do all the work and then need to throw the food out.

Other post you may enjoy:

How to can green beans

How to can honey sweetened pineapple

Gluten free biscuits

zesty salsa

Zesty Salsa
A slightly spicy chunky salsa.
Servings 6 pints


  • 10 cups paste tomatoes, peeled and diced (5 pounds)
  • 5 cups seeded green peppers, diced (2 pounds
  • 5 cups onions, diced (2 pounds)
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, finely diced
  • 2 1/2 cups jalapeno, diced and seeded
  • 1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sea salt


  • Fill the water bath canner 1/3 of the way full. Set it on the stove and turn on the heat to medium.
    Wash the canning jars. Inspect them for any chips or cracks.
  • Fill a small pot with water and turn the heat on to medium high. The water should be hot but not boiling.
    Wash the tomatoes of any debris. Score the bottom of the tomatoes in a x pattern. Put the scored tomatoes in the hot water for 30 seconds.
    Take the tomatoes out of the hot water. Once they are cooled enough to handle. Peel the skins off of the tomato and set aside.
    Core and dice the tomatoes. Set a large stock pot on the stove (no heat yet). Place the tomatoes into the pot.
  • Dice the non spicy peppers, jalapenos, onions, and garlic. Place them in the pot with the tomatoes. Add 1 Tbsp. of sea salt into the pot. Stir to combine.
    Turn on the heat to the tomato pot and bring the salsa to a boil for 10 minutes. If the salsa is too watery ladle some of the juice out into a separate container.
    Once the salsa is the desired consistency, add the apple cider vinegar. Stir to combine.
  • Ladle the salsa into the clean canning jars leaving a 1/2-inch headspace. Debubble the jars and wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth.
    Put on the lids and rings. Use your jar grabber to lower the jars into the water bath canner. When all of the jars are in the water adjust the levels so that the water covers the jars by 2 inches.
    Secure the lid on the water bath canner. Increase the heat and bring the water up to a boil. Once the water is at a rolling boil, turn on the timer. 15 minutes for pints, and 20 minutes for quarts.
    When the timer is done, turn off the heat and carefully remove the lid. Let the jars rest for around 5 minutes.
    Use the jar grabber to lift the jars out of the canner onto a towel lined countertop.
    Let the jars cool completely. Now that they are cool, remove the rings and test for a proper seal.
    Store in a cool dark place or at least out of direct sunlight. Use within a year.

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