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Preserving Summer: How to Can Homegrown Salsa Ingredients

Preserving Summer: How to Can Homegrown Salsa Ingredients

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Do your salsa garden veggies rot faster than you can eat them? Instead of letting them go to waste, extend their shelf life through canning!

Canning is a preservation method that retains the freshness, flavor, and nutritional value of fruits, vegetables, and other produce for years. The produce is packed into sterilized jars and then heated to a high temperature, which kills harmful bacteria that causes spoilage.

In this article, I’ll show you how to can and store your homegrown salsa ingredients so you can enjoy that delicious summer taste year round!

What Do You Typically Find In a Salsa Garden?

Salsa gardens contain homegrown fruits, vegetables, and herbs that make delicious homemade salsa.

The star of salsa gardens is, of course, tomatoes. You also have peppers, ranging from mild to spicy, as well as onions, garlic, and herbs like cilantro, cumin, oregano, and parsley.


Tomatoes are the base of most salsas. There are dozens of varieties to choose from, from the traditional Roma tomatoes to the more exotic heirloom varieties like Black Cherry or Flamme.

Roma tomatoes are great for salsas because they’re meaty and full of flavor. San Marzano is another excellent choice; they’re similar to Roma tomatoes but slightly sweeter.

If you’re looking for something with a bolder taste, Black Krim tomatoes should be on your ‘to grow’ list. Their rich, smoky taste adds depth to salsa, creating a more complex flavor profile.

Other fleshy varieties to consider are Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, and Bloody Butcher.


How hot do you want your salsa to be?

Do you want the heat to blow your socks off and have you breathing fire like a dragon, or just enough to break a light sweat? Or perhaps you don’t want any heat at all?

Whatever your preference, there’s a pepper that perfectly suits your taste.

Personally, I love hot salsas. I have a variety of chili peppers growing in my garden, such as Habanera, Serrano, and Jalapeño.

I also have milder varieties, too, like bell peppers and Anaheim. These peppers add a welcome touch of sweet and smoky flavor to salsa, much like what you’d find in authentic Mexican dips.


Onions are a staple in vegetable gardens. They’re low-maintenance, easy to grow, and store extremely well.

Depending on the species, onions can take anywhere between 80 to 120 days to reach maturity from seed. If you’re starting from sets (small onion bulbs), they grow in 60 to 80 days.

White onion is arguably the best onion variety for salsa.

White onions have a clean, fresh taste that doesn’t overpower the salsa. They let the natural sweetness of the tomatoes and peppers come through, resulting in a well-balanced and flavorful sauce.

Red onions have a sharp, bold flavor, making them a great choice for fresh salsas like pico de gallo.

Meanwhile, yellow onions are the best of both worlds. They strike a balance between the milder flavor of white onions and the stronger taste of red onions.


Before I started growing my own salsa garden, I thought there were only around five varieties of garlic. Imagine my surprise when I found out there are over 900 garlic cultivars (and counting) grown in 35 countries!

In the US, the most common type of garlic you’ll find at supermarkets is softneck garlic. Softneck garlic has a milder flavor compared to other varieties, making it a versatile choice for many dishes including salsas.


Fresh herbs enhance the aroma and flavor of salsa.

Cilantro, for example, adds a bright, citrusy note that pairs brilliantly with the tangy sweetness of tomatoes and the heat of peppers.

If you’re not a fan of cilantro, parsley or basil work just as well.

Other herbs you can add to salsa include:

  • Oregano
  • Dill
  • Mint
  • Cumin

How to Can and Store Homegrown Salsa Ingredients

Canning allows you to capture the peak flavor and freshness of your homegrown produce. Here’s how to can and store salsa ingredients:

Step 1: Select Your Produce

Harvest ripe tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, and herbs you plan to use in your salsa. Make sure they’re fresh and free from any signs of rot or damage.

Step 2: Remove the Skins From the Tomatoes

To remove tomato skin, make an “X” in the bottom of the tomatoes and plop them in boiling water for roughly 60 seconds.

Then, transfer them directly into a bowl of ice water. This ‘shocks’ the tomatoes, causing their skin to peel right off.

Removing skins from tomatoes results in a smoother and uniform salsa texture. If you don’t mind a chunky, rustic texture in your salsa, you can skip this step altogether.

Step 3: Transfer to a Large Pot

Put all your salsa ingredients, along with the seasonings, into a large pot and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until you reach your desired consistency.

Chunkier salsas like pico de gallo benefit from minimal simmering to retain a fresh texture. Smoother salsas might require more simmering for thickening.

Step 4: Fill and Seal the Jars

Sterilize the jars in hot water and let cool for several minutes before pouring in the hot salsa, Make sure to leave the recommended ½ inch of headspace at the top.

Then, wipe the rims of the jam with a paper towel, place the lids on top of the jar mouth, and screw on the metal band/ring over the lid until just fingertip tight.

Step 5: Boil the Jars

Transfer the salsa-filled jars to a large pot of boiling water using a jar lifter or canning tongs.

The jars should be fully submerged in the boiling water, with at least 1 to 2 inches covering the top.

Leave the jars in the boiling water for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the recipe and the jar size.

Boiling helps create a vacuum seal in the jar, eliminating the risk of spoilage and bacterial growth.

Salsas canned in this manner are safe for consumption for up to one year, as long as properly stored in a cool, dark place.

Final Thoughts

Canning salsa is an excellent way to preserve the vibrant flavors of your garden-fresh ingredients.

To can salsa, chop and boil your fresh ingredients until soft, then pack them into sterilized jars along with your desired seasonings.

Process the jars in a boiling water bath to seal them airtight, and you’ve canned salsa that’ll stay fresh and delicious for months to come.

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