Bernie’s Classic Canning Salsa

Bernie’s Classic Canning Salsa took some serious pleading for this outstanding salsa recipe. You see Capt’n Salsa had the opportunity to fly a trip with Bernie, all he could do was talk about his home garden’s bountiful harvest and his passion for homemade salsa he even “canned” his own using a “pressure cooker”.


Have to admit…I was enjoying every word of it, “hehehe”

Obviously, it wasn’t long into this conversation that I just had to tell him about a salsa recipe web site he just had to check out.

Can you imagine that?

Well, the truth be know after some serious salsa research at a local establishment and a cold one or two. Bernie, finally agreed to share his classic canning salsa recipe with the rest of us.

Thanks Bernie for your generosity, we are all going to really enjoy…

Bernie’s Classic Canning Salsa
  • 8 cups chopped/drained paste-type tomatoes
  • 45 oz tomato sauce
  • one small can (6 oz.) tomato paste
  • 10-16 cloves garlic, as desired
  • 4 cups chopped bell pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons minced Habenero pepper
  • 2 small cans (4.5 oz.) chopped chilies
  • 3 cups finely chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1½ teaspoons chili powder
  • ¾ teaspoon cumin
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons Xanthan gum or 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  1. Drain tomatoes and save liquid. Combine all ingredients except Xanthan gum/corn starch in a heavy pot and bring to a low boil for 15 minutes.
  2. Blend Xanthan gum or dissolve corn starch in 3 cups saved tomato liquid and add to salsa. Continue boil for 5 minutes.
  3. Note:If not using either thickening agent, be very stingy adding tomato liquid back to salsa, as it will get too thin.
  4. Refrigerate overnight and serve as fresh salsa or pressure can at 10 PSI for 25 minutes for pint jars.
Yields 8-10 pints.
  1. Feel free to adjust amount of garlic, hot peppers, and/or cilantro, according to taste.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1

Capt’n Salsa’s note:
Bernie’s Classic Canning Salsa has not been tested for “water bath processing”. If you pressure can this salsa be sure to make the necessary adjustment for the elevation of your local area and follow all salsa canning safety tips.

Bernie prefers to use the Xanthan Gum as a thickening agent. An ingredient added to various food products, such as ice cream, snack bars, sour cream, yogurt, or salad dressing as a thickening, stabilizing and emulsifying agent.

Produced from the fermentation of a carbohydrate, such as corn, xanthan gum is purified, processed, and most often ground into a powder form for use as a food additive.Available at health food and larger grocery stores. 

Water Bath Canning of Salsa

Linnette Goard, Food Safety Specialist, Ohio State University Extension demonstrates how to preserve homemade salsa using a water bath canner.

Video Transcript

Many people are growing and preserving their own foods. Maybe to save money, maybe to support local growers, maybe so you know exactly what ingredients are used in the food you prepare and serve to your family. Whatever the reason it’s important to use safe food preservation methods. So in the long run your food is safe to eat. To make our salsa we need three key ingredients. We need tomatoes, onions and peppers. We also use a key ingredient which is lemon juice and lemon juice also helps to ensure that the food is high acid. And that allows us to be able to use a water bath canner. Its really important that we have the right ratio of our ingredients. For our salsa, since our tomatoes are high acid, we can use a water bath canner. But the other important thing is to use a recipe that has been tested. When a recipe is tested, it means that the pH or the acidity of that food has been tested. And so that we know that we have a good ratio of high acid foods which are our tomatoes and low acid foods which are our onions and peppers. We’re using half pint jars today and these are canning jars so make sure that you select canning jars. They’re thicker and more heat resistant than the jars that we call like one trip jars. We’ve already sterilized these jars and you can do that by putting them through a dishwasher cycle or you can put them in boiling hot water. So, to start us out, we’re going to wash our vegetables. Now that our vegetables are washed, let’s get started. So lets take the core out. And then we’re going to just chop them. And you can really do it however thick or thin that you want to. Okay, you’re going to continue chopping up tomatoes until you get about six cups of tomatoes for this particular recipe. Six cups of tomatoes is equivalent to about five pounds. This particular recipe calls for nine cups of onions and peppers. You can use any kind of peppers that you want to. I chose to use green peppers today. I have washed my cutting board between food products just for food safety reasons. You want to make sure that you do that with your peppers then. I’m going to split them in half and then I’m going to take out the seeds and the membranes. And so like the tomatoes, we’re just going to chop our peppers. When we put food away we should put enough away that we’re going to use it up within a year. The storage of most canned goods is a year in length. We’re now going to add our peppers with our tomatoes. I’ve chosen to add about two pounds of peppers. Like I said before, we want a good ratio of onions to peppers and so I chose about two pounds of peppers and a pound of onions. So next, we’ll choose our onions and again, you can choose whatever kind of onion that you have. We’ve finished chopping our onions and so we’re going to add them to our mixture. We should have six cups of chopped tomatoes, nine cups of a mixture of peppers and onions. To that mixture, we’re going to add an acid which is lemon juice. Takes a cup and a half of lemon juice. And then we’re going to add three teaspoons of canning salt. And the reason we use a canning or pickling salt is it does not contain iodine and it also is an anti-caking salt so it will not clump in the bottom of the jar. So we mix that up a little bit and then we’re ready to put it onto the stove. And we’re going to put it on to cook. Bring this mixture to a boil and then reduce and simmer for three minutes. It’s ready to go. The other thing that we’ve done is we’re using a two part lid, a two piece lid. There’s an inner lid and our outer rim and you do need to put your inner lids in some simmering water just to soften that inner band so that it will seal. So let’s go ahead and fill some jars. As we’re doing this we want to make sure that we leave a half inch head space. And that head space is the area between the top of the food, whatever food we’re putting in there, and the top of the, the very top of the jar. This is called a bubble freer and we’re going to take it and run it down the side of our jar and make sure there are no air bubbles in there. If there’s air bubbles in there, they’re going to come out as the food is processing and then we’re going to have less liquid in our jar. So we want to fill them as good as we can or to that half inch mark. This bubble freer is also measured in increments so we can actually measure that head space and it should be a half inch. Next, we’re going to take our lid. And we’re going to put that on top of our jar, hold it down. And then tighten the rim. And this should be fingertip tight. So you just put it on til it catches and then with your fingertips, you don’t want to crank it on. If you crank it on, you can put a bind between that inner lid and the outer rim. And you don’t want to do that. Once we have our jars filled, we’re going to put them into a boiling water bath canner. The water should be almost boiling when you put them in and making sure that the water comes at least an inch over top of those jars. Once it comes to a full rolling boil, you want to boil for fifteen minutes. When that’s done, you’ll turn off the canner, let them sit for a minute and then take them out, let them sit for 12 – 24 hours. And that’s when they will seal. And you’ll know they’re sealed if this button is down and so that’s when you know they’re sealed. They should not make this noise. They’ll be fully sealed. There are many different recipes for salsa. This is just one of them available to you. You can find those through the USDA canning guide and those are available on our website at fcs.osu.edu

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