Lila’s Famous Salsa Recipe (For Canning!)

Looking for the perfect salsa for canning? You’ve hit the jackpot with Lila’s Famous Salsa Recipe. It’s a classic, perfectly balanced recipe packed with fresh ingredients, ensuring you’ve got delicious salsa all year round. Grab those chips, and let’s get started!

Wondering who Lila is? I’ve never met her, but this recipe was given to me by a friend of a friend, and her name was on it. I asked him if I could share it here and he said yes. So there you have it.

One of the most practical ways to can food at home.

Lila’s Signature Salsa

A bright and vibrant blend of fresh tomatoes, zesty peppers, and aromatic spices, simmered to perfection and ready for canning. Make 4-6 pints.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Processing time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Serving Size 5 pints

Ingredients 

  • 8 cups tomatoes diced and peeled
  • cups onions finely chopped
  • cups green bell peppers diced
  • ¼ cup jalapeno peppers finely diced (adjust to taste for heat)*
  • 6 garlic cloves pressed or minced*
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds ground *
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper *
  • 2 tbsp sea salt or pickling salt
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro finely chopped*
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar with 5% acidity
  • 2 cups tomato sauce choose a high-quality brand
  • 2 cups tomato paste
  • cup granulated sugar

Instructions 

  • Preparation: Before you begin, make sure you have clean jars, lids, and bands. Sterilize the jars and lids in boiling water or in a dishwasher on the hottest setting. Make sure everything is chopped and ready to go before you put the salsa on the stove.
    chopped veggies in large saucepan.
  • Cook. Put all of your ingredients into a large stock pan and simmer for at least 30 minutes until the mixture thickens slightly, After simmering, do a taste test. If you prefer your salsa with a little more kick, consider adding an extra pinch of ground cumin or a few more finely chopped jalapenos. If it's too spicy, add a touch more sugar to balance the heat. As long as you do not reduce the sugar, the vinegar, or add more tomatoes, you are fine.
    large pot of salsa cooking.
  • Jarring the Salsa: Using a funnel, carefully ladle the hot salsa into the prepared jars, leaving about a 1/2-inch headspace from the top. This space allows the salsa to expand during processing. Using a clean, damp cloth or paper towel, wipe the rims of the jars to ensure they're free from any residue. Place the sterilized lids on the jars and screw on the bands until they are fingertip-tight.
    wiping off mason jars of salsa.
  • Processing the Jars: Prepare a boiling water bath in a large canning pot. The water should be deep enough to cover the jars by at least an inch. Gently lower the filled jars into the boiling water using a jar lifter or a similar tool. Once all the jars are in the pot, put the lid on and let them process for 20 minutes.
    canner with pint jars of homemade salsa.
  • Cooling and Storing: After the boiling water bath, carefully remove the jars from the pot using the jar lifter and place them on a wooden board or a thick towel to cool. It's important to let them cool in a draft-free spot. As they cool, you'll likely hear a "pop" or "ping" sound – this is a sign that the jars are sealing. Once cooled, check the seals by pressing down on the center of each lid. If it doesn't pop back, it's sealed. If any jars haven't sealed, refrigerate them and consume within a week.
    jars cooling on counter.
  • Long Term Storage: Store the sealed jars in a cool, dark place. Ideally, wait at least a week before opening to let the flavors meld, but if you can't resist, go ahead and enjoy! The salsa should be consumed within a year for the best quality.

Notes

The asterisks (*) next to certain ingredients are simply markers. They indicate that you can adjust the quantity slightly to suit your taste preferences.
When canning, it’s always a good idea to prepare a few extra jars just in case your yield is slightly more than expected. If you have any leftover salsa that doesn’t fit into your jars for canning, you can store it in the refrigerator and enjoy it fresh over the next week or so.

A note about what you’ll need:

  • Large Stock Pan: For simmering your ingredients together.
  • Canning Funnel: To easily and cleanly ladle salsa into jars.
  • Jar Lifter: For safely handling hot jars during and after processing.
  • Canning Pot: A large pot for the boiling water bath, ensuring safe preservation.
  • Quality Knife: For finely dicing and chopping the fresh ingredients.
ingredients on marble counter.
  • Tomatoes: The heart and soul of any salsa recipe. While fresh tomatoes are ideal for this recipe, you can use canned diced tomatoes in a pinch. Just ensure you drain any excess liquid to keep the salsa’s consistency.
  • Jalapeño Peppers: Adjust the heat according to your preference. Remember, the seeds and membranes are the spiciest parts, so deseed if you want to dial down the heat. Remember, it’s always easier to add more later than to fix an overly spicy batch!
  • Apple Cider Vinegar with 5% Acidity: This lends a tangy zing to the salsa. The acidity also plays a vital role in safe canning, preventing harmful bacteria from thriving.

Tips for canning salsa

  • Preparation is Key: As with many recipes, having all your ingredients prepped and ready ensures a smooth cooking process.
  • Taste and Adjust: After simmering, remember to taste your salsa. Adjusting for heat and sweetness ensures the perfect balance that suits your palate. However, avoid reducing the sugar or vinegar to maintain a safe pH level for canning.
  • Canning Precautions: Cleaning and heating your jars and lids is a crucial step. Using a clean cloth to wipe the rims ensures a tight seal. Remember, when sealing the jars, you’re looking for the pop sound as they cool, which indicates a secure seal.
  • Patience Pays Off: For optimal flavor development, it’s tempting to dive in immediately after jarring, but I prefer to wait at least a week to allow the ingredients to meld beautifully.

How to store this recipe

  • After Canning: Once you’ve canned the salsa, it’s best to store the sealed jars in a cool, dark place like a pantry or basement. This will help maintain the salsa’s flavor and preserve its shelf life.
  • Once Opened: After breaking the seal on a jar, you should refrigerate it. The salsa is best consumed within a week for optimal freshness once opened. Always use a clean utensil to scoop out the salsa to prevent contamination.
  • Freezing: If you wish to freeze Lila’s Signature Salsa, it’s advisable to do so before the canning process. Portion the salsa into freezer-safe containers or heavy-duty freezer bags, leaving some space at the top as the salsa will expand when frozen. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. To use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and give it a good stir before serving.
finished salsa in small serving bowl.
Lila\'s Famous Salsa Recipe (For Canning!)

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