Canning salsa sauce is an art and a science. Market research by several major food manufacturers in the U.S. state that the average American eats more salsa than ketchup. Some would argue that ketchup is still in the lead but either way, but salsa is either in the top spot for condiments or at least very close to it.
Canned Salsa Should Be From Tested, Trusted and Approved Recipes
Salsa is one thing cooks and chef-wanna-be’s like to make almost more than anything else. It’s a product that is inviting to experiment with. There’s a wide variety of fresh ingredients to choose from but it’s important to remember a certain rule when canning salsa: When combining such things as tomatoes and peppers, you’re mixing ingredients that have varying acidic levels in them.
Most people would wonder why it’s an issue and it’s not if you’re making salsa and eating fresh (within one or two days-kept in your refrigerator). But canning salsa adds the dynamic of heat generated during the canning process. A lot of people don’t know this but if you mix an improper ratio of ingredients and then seal them in cans or mason jars using a pressure cooker or similar method, you could be creating a toxic soup that will cause severe illness, even botulism if someone eats it.
It’s always best if you’re canning salsa for the purpose of storing it for long periods in cans or jars, you should never use a recipe that is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In other words, if someone gives you a recipe for canning salsa “that they just made up” it might be wise not to use it. And don’t make up your own recipes either, unless you are sure you’re following the USDA guidelines.
The National Center for Home Food Preservation has a website that gives a lot of great tips and guidelines to follow when canning salsa. If you’re not a certified chef or if you’ve never made canned salsa before, it’s best to follow recipes from published recipe books or trusted websites. And as a rule of thumb, if you’re not sure that it’s not safe or if you’re even slightly suspicious that it may not be, don’t make it!
At least don’t can or preserve it. But remember if you must “experiment” with ingredients when you’re making salsa just make sure you’re going to eat it right away or keep it in your refrigerator for more than a day or two. And another option for storing salsa for long periods is to keep it in your freezer. Most salsa recipes will keep their good quality in your home freezer for up to a year or so.
Making your own salsa can be fun and an added benefit is that if you make it fresh and eat it right away or keep it in your freezer, the sky is the limit on the different ways you can make it. But if you’re canning salsa, follow the USDA rules or use a trusted recipe to make sure your salsa is tasty and you’ll have the reputation of being a “salsa Chef!”