I am often asked by consumers how to take that family-favorite salsa recipe into a product that is canned and on the shelf to enjoy during the height of winter. Questions like this are prominent in the minds of researchers that develop tested recipes for home canners.
Salsas typically are mixtures of acid ingredients such as tomatoes or other fruits, vinegar, and lemon juice, and low-acid ingredients such as peppers, onions, and other vegetables. Salsas, pickles and other similar products are examples of acidified foods; with added-acid or acid ingredients to reduce the pH to 4.6 or below, these products can be processed in a boiling water canning. If the product pH is above 4.6, then it must be processed in a pressure canner as a low-acid product.
Once a researcher knows the final pH of the product, the hard part is establishing a safe processing time. It is the type and proportions of ingredients, preparation method, product characteristics such as thickness, and size and type of container that will determine what the canning process time should be. There is no way to tell someone how to can a homemade salsa without all of this information. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has a fact sheet that explains in detail how researchers conduct heat penetration studies in order to establish thermal (heat) processes for new canning recipes.
All recipes in the current USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning (2009) and Extension recipes from the National Center for Home Food Preservation and University of Wisconsin-Extension are tried and tested, and processing times decided upon for the recipe as provided and research-based. Extension recommends recipes and procedures we know to be safe, and encourage consumers to use current, tested, science-based home-canning recipes from reliable sources.
Tested recipes for home canning of salsa are available from:
- University of Wisconsin – Canning Salsa Safely
- University of Georgia – Sensational Salsa
- National Center for Home Food Preservation – How Do I …. Can Salsa
Ball Canning also has some tested salsa recipes available, however, many of these recipes use a seasoning packet that Ball markets for salsa. This seasoning packet is not necessary to manufacture safe salsa. If you do use a Ball salsa mix, you must carefully follow the directions on the packet.
There are no tested recipes for pressure canning salsa, for canning salsa in quart-size jars, or for adding ingredients such as corn or black beans to home-preserved salsa. Safe modifications that can be made to home canning recipes are outlined in an earlier blog. If you want to make recipe modifications to salsa, consider freezing your salsa for long-term storage. Freezing is a safe way to preserve an untested salsa recipe while protecting your family’s health.
A more detailed description of the science behind canning your own salsa recipe is available from the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Safe preserving! Barb