Tomatillo Salsa/Salsa Verde


You’ve heard about my gardening woes. Fortunately, not all is lost: I am growing a bumper crop of tomatillos. For the uninitiated, tomatillos are closely related to tomatoes, except that they’re green and grow in husks. The husks puff up when the plant starts to set fruit, and when the fruit fills the husk, they’re ripe. But because you need two plants for successful pollination, you could end up with hundreds of tomatillos if the conditions are right (they like hot days and cool nights). They’ve lovely roasted with fish or chicken, but my favorite? Salsa verde, by far.

I make a stovetop/blender version, but you if you want to go through the trouble of peeling them, you can make a nice smokey version by toasting the tomatillos and peppers in a cast iron skillet….but the lazy way is equally delicious.

tomatillo-salsaNow, a little disclaimer about canning. All of the water-bath recipes that I’ve seen for salsa verde require more lime juice than I like in my salsa. On the other hand, they also use more onion, so they would be less acidic. I queried the Twittersphere as to whether it would be safe to can my version in a water-bath canner. Zoecancan sent me a terrific link to a peer-reviewed article in the journal Plant Foods for Human Nutrition that says that tomatillo mixtures with 50% or more tomatillos are safe for a water bath. Now, I want to be loud and clear here that this is NOT a USDA-approved recipe—but I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work. Last year, without access to this information, I canned about a dozen jars in a pressure canner and they turned out just fine. You will get some discoloration on the lids because of tomato-family enzymes, but so long as the jar is still sealed, it’s harmless. If both of these options seem scary, you could always freeze it. It also keeps in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks.

Salsa Verdecooking-tomatillos

About a pound of tomatillos
Water to cover
1 onion
A couple of jalapeno peppers, or maybe a serrano or two
Enough cilantro to yield 1/4 c. chopped

1) Remove the husks and rinse the tomatillos. Put them in a saucepan with water to cover and bring the water to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, until they change color and squish easily.

2) Combine the tomatillos and their liquid and all the remaining ingredients in blender.

If you’re freezing or storing in the refrigerator, you’re done. If you want to can it, proceed to Step 3.

3) Return the sauce to the pan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, prepare your canning equipment. Gently boil your lids and have 2 quarts of boiling water ready for the pressure cooker, or a big pot of water going for water-bath canning. Water-bath canners need to sterilize the jars. Transfer the hot sauce to clean jars (water-bath canners need hot jars) and assemble the lids. Adjust the rings.

4) For pressure canners: transfer the jars to the pressure canner and pour in the water (Remember: the water will not cover the jars. It’s there to create steam.). Lock on the lid and turn on the heat. Evacuate the steam for 7 minutes, then put on the pressure regulator. Process pint jars for 5 minutes, quart jars at 10 minutes, either at 10 pounds pressure. There’s a step-by-step refresher on pressure canning on this post on chicken broth.

5) For water-batch canners: transfer the jars to the water bath. The water should cover the jars. Bring the pot back to a boil. Process pint jars 25 minutes and quart jars 35 minutes.

If you are a food scientist or home extension agent and have thoughts on this: Speak up! Also, this isn’t like jam: it scales up beautifully. If you’ve got 10 pounds of tomatillos and want to make 3 quarts of salsa: knock yourself out.

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14 comments to Tomatillo Salsa/Salsa Verde

  • […] to the conclusion that the only way around this is to focus my canning efforts on cooked salsa. Salsa verde is a great example. Roasted tomato salsa is another good […]

  • Awesome recipe. Will try it soon. Thanks for sharing this recipe. If you want to know more about canning salsa, feel free to check out my site.

  • This is a new idea. The good thing about new recipes is that i got to explore more about canning salsa. Thank you. I will take note of this. When you have time, do visit my site as well.

  • Tom

    Nice recipe here. What can also be done to add a richer flavour is to half all veggies and toss them in grapefruit seed oil, then put them in a roasting pan and broil them. I turn the veggies every 5-6 minutes or when visually the veggies start to brown. Flavourful juices also come out of the veggies, making the kitchen smell wonderful! My recipe (always by sight-sorry!) includes purple and green tomatillos, Hungarian black peppers, Hungarian hot yellow wax peppers, jalapenos, anaheims, and cubanelle sweet peppers, garlic, walla walla sweet onions, and a couple mid sized almost ripe tomatoes, crushed black pepper, cilantro and golden oregano, lime juice, and a few splashes of unfiltered apple cider vinegar. I then put all ingredients into the Cuisinart and pulse the veggies (NOT turned to the ON position), as I like a slightly chunkier salsa verde. I feel between the tomatillos, tomatoes, lime juice and vinegar, I have plenty of acidity to hot bath can. I this time am canning into half pints, as we like to give away jars as gifts or take with us to gatherings and parties. What does not fit into jars to can is used fresh, as it will easily keep 2-3 weeks in the fridge in a jar with a tight fitting lid.

    For a fun and more complex flavour, try roasting the veggies first, and add a few kinds of peppers, and the sweet onions also add an unexpected sweetness to add to the kick of the peppers! Try it!

  • Julie

    Just a note. Tomatillos are not tomatos and if you are allergic to tomatos you can still eat tomatillos. This was wonderful information to me when I found out. I would still ask your doctor but mine cleared me.

  • Da-veed

    OK,….as a kind of self-educated jellymaker, picklemaker…newbie canner…….if what you have canned (tomatillos, tomatos, jelly, various bounty from the garden or whatever) has gone bad in the jars—-is it really obvious? Could the lids still be concave (versus bulged-out) and the contents be bad? Everything I’ve ever canned seems to have come out fine, but
    I want to know what to look for, just in case.

  • Just stumbled across this recipe and it looks great. How many jars does it make? Thanks!

  • dorisandjilly

    I typically get about 1 pint per pound of tomatillos, with the addition of a small onion and one or two small peppers.

  • Retta

    Thanks for sharing! Our standard tomatillo salsa recipe is very similar to this, but we’ve never tried canning it (or anything, for that matter) before. This will make a great holiday gift for our friends who love Mexican food and is a great introduction to canning for our family.

  • Stacey Moulds

    Hi – It’s August 2011 so this comment is a it late.
    Question about the water – I added it “to cover” but when I blended everything it made the salsa very watery.
    Should I have drained the tomatillos first?

  • @Stacey Moulds ~ yes, you should have drained the tomatillos after you boiled them.

  • Hello, we live in Boulder /Denver area…… any thoughts on waterbath vs. pressure cannning this tomatillos salsa at a milehigh? It seems quite acidic, so I was hoping a water bath might do….. thank you~

  • Teresa

    I don’t add water when cooking my tomatillos, I am afraid to dilute the acidity when I am canning them. Tomatoes are about a pH 4.1 and tomatillos run about the same according to several sites I have been able to find, this being one:
    I cut up my tomatillos or just boil them slowly and then smash them with a potatoe masher or process them in the food processor to get an even consistency. Adding a a half a red bell pepper gives it a nice mix of colors.

  • Audrey

    My tomatillo recipe is almost identical to this but I add 2 cloves of garlic and juice from half a lime. Same amout of onion, tomatillo, and 2 chiles from chipotle in adobo. Think it is safe to can since I add the lime and other than the garlic the proportions are the same? Thanks!