Monday, July 30, 2012

Preserving ~ Canning Salsa Verde

We are in the thick of summer.  I'm learning that harvesting isn't what takes the majority of the time; it's preserving the harvest that fills our days.  Wanting it to count, I'm preserving things we eat a lot of.

My husband pretty much puts salsa verde on everything.  What I mean by everything is everything.  Well, besides sweets.  That's why part three of this preserving series is all about salsa verde.  We used to buy it at Trader Joe's, but it's not organic and it has "natural flavors" which is code for MSG.  We can't have that, can we?  I was delightfully surprised to find how easy it was to make it.  The most time-consuming part was unwrapping the tomatillos; a job my younger two happily helped with when I told them it's good practice for unwrapping Christmas and birthday presents.  Speaking of presents, having homemade goods on hand can be used as lovely gifts.  I made three batches of this recipe to last us for the year (and maybe share a jar or two, if Jeremy lets me).  This is a hotter recipe than the one at Trader's but I wouldn't classify it as hot.  It's more of a medium salsa.  If you want it hotter, add more chilies.  If you're interested in a fermented version of salsa verde, you might want to try this recipe.  It didn't go over well here and I wanted something to last thru the year so we stuck with canning.

Equipment needed:
Read about canning basics here.  There is an initial investment in canning.  The beauty of it is you get to use it over and over again and if canning is something you love, it's totally worth it.  If you have absolutely no canning equipment, I recommend getting this canning kit.  It has absolutely everything you need besides the jars and the ingredients.  You will also need canning jars; either one flat of 1-pint jars or two flats of half-pint jars.  If you are making this for yourself, I highly recommend also getting these reusable, BPA-free lids and using them instead of the ones that come with the jars.  You can use those later when you make a batch to give away or use as gifts.  You'll also want and immersion blender to purée the salsa.

Prep. time: 1.5 hours, yields about 10 pints
  • 5 pounds tomatillos
  • 9 serrano chilies or jalepeños (we preferred serranos)
  • 2 cups lemon or lime juice, or a mixture of the two
  • 2 peaches
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 onions
  • 16 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon Celtic sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
This, my friends, is a bag of gorgeous, organic tomatillos, still wrapped in their husks.

First, remove the husks.  This is a happy job to do with others.

We had one bowl for the husks (that were given to the chickens) and one for the naked tomatillos.  They're sticky once the husks are removed.  Wash them well.  Mine were still a bit sticky even after I soaked them in this produce wash and thoroughly rinsed them.

Husking the tomatillos might take longer than you thought.  It's okay.  They keep really well.  I think mine waited on the countertop a coupe days after husking them before they became salsa.  Poor lil naked guys.  Waiting so long for their home in a jar.

Once you're ready to can, fill the canner to that line you see the water almost touching.

Place your clean jars, seven at a time, into the canner.  Heat on high and bring to a boil.  Drop your lids, seals, and rings (or if you're not using the reusable tops, you'll just have lids and rings) into a pot full of water, bring to a boil, then turn the heat to simmer and let them sit there until you're ready for them.

While you're waiting for the canner to come to a boil, cut the tips off the chilies.  You won't want to touch them.  Trust me on that one.  Unless you enjoy the feeling of throbbing fingers as you fall asleep that night.  I didn't have any gloves except for the ones I clean with (ew) so I used a plastic bag.

Put tomatillos and chilies in a large sauce or stock pot.  No need to seed the chilies.  Nice, right?

Now juice the lemons and/or limes.  It's important to use this much lemon/lime juice to keep the acidity levels safe enough to can the salsa.  Add it to the pot with the tomatillos and chillies and bring it to a boil.

While you're waiting for the mixture to boil, coarsely cut onions and peel garlic.  Peel, pit, and quarter peaches.  Remove cilantro leaves from stems.  If the tomatillos and chilies come to a boil before you're done, turn the heat to a simmer and finish preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Add cilantro, peaches, garlic, onions, salt, and cumin to hot mixture.  Use immersion blender until everything is puréed.

Turn heat to medium/high and bring to a boil while stirring constantly.  Boil for about one minute, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Skim off any foam.

Ladle the salsa into the jars using a funnel.  Leave one half inch head space (the space between the surface of the salsa and the top of the jar).

Wipe the rim with a damp towel to ensure proper sealing.

Place the seal on the jar.  Make sure it's centered so it seals properly.

Add the lid and screw on the band until it's snuggly sealed but not too tight.  Air bubbles need room to be let out.

Process in a hot water bath for 20 minutes.  To see my method for water baths and rotating empty and full jars, look through the strawberry jam post.

Set the jars in a draft-free area where they won't be disturbed.  If you're using Tattler lids, unscrew the bands the following day and check to see if they sealed.  Store them in a cool, dry, dark place until you're ready to enjoy.

Cost breakdown:
  • 5 pounds organic tomatillos: $10
  • 12 1-pint jars (mine were given to me so they were free) $9.55 (reusable!)
  • 1 packet Tattler lids: (also given to me so they were free) $12 (don't forget they're reusable too!)
  • Lemons & peaches (given to me from friends' trees): FREE
  • Onions, salt, cumin, cilantro: $2.50
  • Garlic (homegrown): FREE
My total cost: $1.25 per 1-pint jar

Cost to buy NON-organic salsa verde: $5.70

Once we grow our own tomatillos, onions, and cilantro this salsa will practically be free!

Did I think it was worth it?  Definitely.  Preserving salsa verde has been fit into our summer rhythm from here on out.


  1. Thanks for this! I grow LOTS of tomatillos and serranos just to have an endless supply of salsa verde. It's my favorite thing for eggs, enchiladas, and a quick pork posole. Can't wait to try canning it this year!

    Oh, and when you get around to growing tomatillos you'll be thankful... they are very generous. :)

  2. Thankyou so much! My family loves the Trader Joe's brand, and this summer I've got 3 tomatillo plants growing so I'm hoping for a big crop. This is just what I was looking for!

  3. great recipe. i have been making peach salsa this summer with our excess peaches and it is awesome. canning salsa though sounds appealing. i haven't ever made salsa verde so this looks like a fun new adventure. what a great price savings!!

    my recent post: beyond

  4. I've made some fresh peach salsa too! I'm thinking about canning some next year; it's one of my favorites.

  5. Wonderful! I can't wait to hear what you think!

  6. So great to hear. I'm really looking forward to growing them next year.

  7. FYI - MSG is NOT allowed in any Trader Joe's food. All "natural flavorings" must meet with their standards of no GMO ingredients, nothing artificial meaning food colorings and preservatives, etc, and no msg,

  8. Sadly, MSG can be labeled as "natural flavors." There might not be anything genetically modified in it, but Trader Joe's does use MSG in some of their products, I'm afraid.

  9. This salsa verde looks wonderful! Hope all is well on the home front. :)

    MSG comes in many different names and Trader Joes is loaded with them. Maltodextrin is just one of them. Here is a great article:

  10. How long is the salsa verde good for, once canned?

  11. This recipe was so easy and delicious! This is my first year growing tomatillos so I was super happy to come across this! I don't have a immersion blender so I just did small batches in my food processor until it was smooth then simmered all together. YUM! Thanks!


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