Canning Salsa (Picante Sauce)

This weekend I made salsa. I bought a huge box of tomatoes and peppers at an Amish road-side stand, and gathered the rest of the ingredients at the grocery store. This was my first time canning all by myself, and I was nervous. The hardest part for me was blanching, peeling, and seeding/chopping all of those tomatoes. I recommend having a nice glass of wine or beer around, and blaring some tunes while you work those tomatoes.

The recipe comes from my mother-in-law, Gail. She showed me how to can, and also gave me my first canning supplies for Christmas a couple of years ago.

I first had this salsa, actually, on the day that I met Rick's family. We had driven to Philly to his sister's house for her birthday, and I remember Gail putting out this salsa and everyone being excited about it. She usually brings a jar of this when they visit, and we gobble it up quickly. I'm glad I now have the means to make a good supply of it myself!

I usually prefer fresh/uncooked salsa over the stuff you buy in a jar, but this is way more amazing than any salsa you'll find in a jar on the grocery store shelves. You can taste so many flavors in every bite. I prefer it over fresh salsa, and that's saying something.


Salsa (Picante Sauce)

for water bath canning


  • 5 lbs tomatoes, about 15 medium, or 20 plum tomatoes (I used a little more than this)
  • 4 mild green chiles or 1 can green chiles drained (I use the canned)
  • 2-6 hot chiles (fresh or dried) (I used 3 hot skinny peppers, I don't even know what kind they were)
  • 1 large Spanish onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 medium red pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped (about 2 tsp)
  • 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1 T. pickling salt (you can use any salt that is not iodized)
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 3 T. finely chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Blanch tomatoes in boiling water; rinse in cold water. Peel, seed and coarsely chop tomatoes. Place tomatoes in a heavy saucepan.
  2. Remove cores from mild chiles. Chop chiles. Scrape most of seeds from cores. Add chopped chiles and seeds to tomatoes or just add in a can.
  3. Pierce hot chiles with a toothpick and add to tomatoes. If using hot pepper, just take out seeds and chop pepper.
  4. Add remaining ingredients except cilantro and mix well. Stirring occasionally, bring to boil over medium heat. Simmer uncovered 1 hour.
  5. Add cilantro and continue cooking 15 to 30 minutes until desired consistency is reached. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
  6. Taste and remove hot chiles (with toothpicks) if using, or put one chile in each jar if additional heat is desired.
  7. Place lids in boiling water, boil 5 minutes to activate sealing compound.
  8. Ladle salsa into a sterilized mason jar (I run mine through the dishwasher to sterilize), filling to within 1/2 inch of top.
  9. Use spatula to remove bubbles. Wipe jar rim, removing any stickiness. Center lid on jar and apply screw band until fingertip tight.
  10. Process in boiling water bath 20 minutes for pints and 25 minutes for quarts.
  11. Remove and cool.

Makes 9 to 10 cups. I ended up tripling this recipe because I had so many tomatoes. I think I will continue to do that, because this stuff is so good that it won't last long! I did all 3 batches at once, using a big soup pot to cook it in.

Recipe via Gail Sollman