Roasted Tomato Salsa

My problem with homemade canned tomato salsa is that it always ends up tasting cooked—but not in a good way—from the canning process. It’s as if you made a batch of pico de gallo, boiled it for 20 minutes, then chilled it and served it. Nothin’ but nasty. I’ve eventually come 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 solution.

Roasted Tomato Salsa (for canning)

About 8 pounds of tomatoes (18 medium)
3 small onions or 1 large onion, hacked into large pieces
1 cup cilantro, thick stems removed
Several dried peppers: I used 3 dried bird peppers and 1 dried ancho pepper
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup lime juice

1) Cut the tomatoes in half and arrange them in a roasting pan. Broil for 3–5 minutes, until the skins are charred. If your broiler is unpredictable, you can also roast them for about 30 minutes at 450°F.

2) Meanwhile, soak your dried peppers in boiling water to cover. When they’re pliable, cut them open and remove the seeds. If you want a hotter salsa, leave them in.

3) Also meanwhile, bring a water bath to boil for canning. Sterilize your jars and warm the lids (this made 6 half pints and 1 pint for me, but you might want to have some other pint jars ready in case yours makes more….or just eat the extra).

4) When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, throw them in a food processor with the onions, the garlic, the cilantro, and the peppers. You may have to work in batches. Transfer the chopped vegetable mixture to a stockpot with the lime juice and 1 T salt (more or less to taste). Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

5) Transfer the hot salsa to the hot jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Run a spatula around the edge to remove air bubbles and add more salsa if necessary. Wipe the rims and adjust the lids.  As seems to be the case for most salsas, processing time recommendations vary somewhat, but based on the National Center for Home Food Preservation‘s guidelines for other salsas, you should be fine with 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. After all, this is basically a recipe for roasted tomatoes, garnished with onions, drowned in lime juice.

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14 comments to Roasted Tomato Salsa

  • Liz

    I’ve been having a hard time finding a good canning salsa recipe that doesn’t use 14,000 cups of vinegar or lime juice. One question for you… Is it ok to use fresh hot peppers instead of the dried??
    Canning is my latest obsession. So far it’s only been jam and pickles. Salsa is my next target!

  • dorisandjilly

    Liz: It should be OK, but if you’re adding a lot (say, more than 1 cup) you’ll need to increase the lime juice (I know, I know…). The alternative is to cut back on the onions so that you have the same total quantity of non-tomato vegetable matter.

  • You gals are canning machines! Looks absolutely delicious!

  • Andy

    I’m in the middle of an ENORMOUS canning project for my wedding: canning 200 jars of my roasted tomato salsa as favors for the guests. So far, so good: 66 jars done, all with perfect seals. Being a canning novice, I have a few questions for you canning experts:

    1. I’ve been reading “Putting Food By” lately, and the authors state that if I’m hot packing acidic foods into very clean jars and then processing in boiling water, the jars and lids don’t need to be sterilized in advance, just thoroughly cleaned. Do you agree?

    2. How important is the 10 minute boil on the stove? The veggies have already spent a lot of time up at that temperature in the roasting process? I’ve been blending them, then reheating until a bubbles pop up before proceeding with the jars. Will that suffice, or am I unwittingly providing botulism for my dearest family and friends?

    3. This is where I’m pretty unsure of things… just how boiling does the canning kettle need to be? My stove gets the kettle going, but the rolling bubbles tend to come up the side of the kettle, instead of throughout the kettle.

    Thanks for the advice!

  • dorisandjilly

    Andy: That’s quite a canning project! In answer to your questions:

    1) It depends on how long you’re boiling the jars. Several sources, including the Jardin Corporation (the company that makes Ball Jars), say that it’s not necessary to start with sterilized jars if you’re processing (boiling) for more than 15 minutes since that process is, in effect, sterilization. You also don’t need to sterilize your jars if you’re using a pressure cooker.

    2) Yes, you do need to process your jars. This is related to (1). So far, you’ve got clean jars, and yes, you’ve boiled the food, a little. But now you need to make sure that you boil the food and the jars together. So long as you’ve added sufficient acid, botulism isn’t the issue. Instead, you’re trying to kill yeasts, molds, and other related food-borne pathogens. Processing your jars is *the* key step here–not only will it help you get a good seal, but without it, you’re really just sticking food in jars, not canning them.

    3) You need a rolling boil. If you’re seeing bubbles at the side of the pot, it may not be boiling at all–you may instead be seeing the air bubbles that are escaping from the jars. You want this (it’s how you get a seal), but you need a “hot” boil to ensure sterilization.

    Good luck, and congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

  • Hi there – do you remove the skins before processing?

  • dorisandjilly

    @Stevie: Yes.

  • Caryll Camp

    Can I make this Salsa recipe with a chunkier version of the veggies? Would any of the times change?

  • Hi – I am a little confused. The instructions say to fill jar with Salsa and leave 1/4″ from top. It then says to push out air bubbles and add more salsa if necessary. Does this mean you fill the jar completely to the top with Salsa or are we leaving 1/4 inch from top when we put the lid on?

  • dorisandjilly

    You want 1/4″ from the top when you are finished. So, fill the jar mostly up, then purge the bubbles, then add however much more is needed to get back to 1/4″ from the top. You may not need to add any additional salsa at all.

  • Katie P.

    I just wanted to say that I had never made salsa like this before or tried to can anything, and I tried this before we left for vacation a few weeks ago. I am now in my kitchen making a second batch with the tomatoes and peppers from my garden. It was INCREDIBLE!! Thank you SO much for sharing.

  • Jennifer

    Made this salsa today with a few changes. I added a little chili powder and cilantro. Also I left the charred skins on – that black skin adds a ton of flavor.

  • Joyce

    what can I replace the 3 dried bird peppers and 1 dried ancho pepper with?

  • Alex

    Joyce, you can use any fresh hot pepper you want, just adjust to your taste.