And now a white boy from Scandinavia wants to tell you how to cook Mexican Food? Yeah, listen, I know how silly that sounds. But here’s the thing. Mexican food is as much of a state of mind as it is a type cuisine: it’s about forgoing the shredded cheddar cheese, the hard-shell tacos, the ground beef and the spice mixes. It’s about exploring the ingredients and key elements of the Mex part of the Tex Mex equation and about producing something that would be recognized as original and not foreign. And in my 15 years of research, I believe I’ve achieved just that.
Oh this looks delicious Mel! Your recipe is so, so similar to mine! We go through it like it’s water. I made sure I canned plenty last summer to get us through the winter. I have tomatoes coming out of my ears again this year. Looks like I need to get busy! I kind of cheat though and don’t put mine in a steam bath. I just let my salsa come to a boil and keep my jars in a warm oven and the lids in simmering water. I pour the boiling salsa into the warm bottles, then put the lid on and screw the ring on and tip the bottles upside down and let them sit overnight. The lids seal every time. Don’t call the canning police on me !

We just sampled this salsa and it is absolutely fantastic!!! I thought that all of the ingredients complimented each other. Way to go Mel! This is my third year in a row making red salsa. I make it to enjoy at home and to share with family and I also enter certain canned specialties each year in our local state fair. Two years ago I won Third place for my red salsa. Last year I did not receive a ribbon. This year I suspect I’ll be in good running for ribbon contention! Our North Carolina State Fair is held in October. I’ll be sure to let you know the outcome!


During processing, a vacuum is pulled in the headspace of the jar. This vacuum naturally pulls down the lid. (Giving us that distinctive “popping” noise when the jars seal.) On Tattler lids, you manually screw down the lids at the end of processing. This may create a false seal where the air in the headspace has not been properly evacuated, leading to food spoilage. More on that here – https://commonsensehome.com/comparison-of-jarden-and-tattler-lids/
When your tomatoes and onion look softened, it’s time to remove them and set aside or place in your blender or food processor along with the garlic. Now add the Arbol peppers to the hot griddle and slightly roast them, this will be a very fast step since the peppers skins burn easily, which gives them an unpleasant bitter taste, so be sure to turn them and roast the peppers without burning them.
In reality, Mexican food is ANYTHING but simple: It’s fresh corn tortillas baked to order and served either crisp or soft. It’s crisp vegetables and other fresh ingredients mixed with meticulously prepared multi-layered sauces made from a multitude of ingredients. It’s carefully marinated and perfectly cooked meats served with tantalizing sides that sometimes rival the cuisine of India in terms of complexity and layers… Really, all in all, its thousands of years of culinary history, culture and technique boiled into the perfect comfort and party food. And all the world is thinking about when hearing the words Mexican food are nachos and hard-shell tacos! For shame!
The vinegar in this recipe is required in order to make this recipe safe for canning. You can use white or apple cider vinegar with at least 5% acidity. White vinegar is clear vinegar made by distilling corn and rye. Choose an organic brand to avoid genetically modified corn. Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apples. If you do not want to use vinegar, consider trying this Garden Fresh Salsa Recipe and freezing it instead.
Essentially, this makes Salsa Roja the Mexican equivalent of BBQ sauce: An all-purpose condiment with a secret recipe. Every Mexican grandmother has her own recipe and hence every family their own, “authentic” Salsa Roja recipe. In other words: as with so many other Mexican dishes and sides, there is no authentic, codified Salsa Roja recipe! To each their own! And thank God for that. This is exactly the beauty of this condiment. Every chef can (and should) tweak it to their own liking – as I have done with mine!
OMG this is so good!! I made a batch at 7am for a bbq this afternoon and ate half of it for my breakfast, so had to replenish it with another can of tomatoes (only had a can of chopped tomatoes left, which worked fine, plus another pinch of all the other ingredients… Amazing! Only thing I had to change was using garlic powder as I had no fresh, still fine. Used 1 green chili and half a red, no seeds, perfect! And 1/4 tsp sugar, as I’m not a huge fan of sweetness. Thank you so much, this is my go to Salsa now :)) Going to make your hummus now too!
I haven’t yet tried your salsa recipes. I have been looking for information to can some killer cherry salsa I came up with a few years ago. Have only eaten it fresh, but wanted to can it and have some last throughout the year. So I think from some of the things I have been reading is that I need to use lemon juice, (bottled for strength consistency) to make it acidic so it will not spoil. Or perhaps vinegar. I do already use lime in my salsa, but think it must need the lemon or vinegar too. Basically I just replace tomatoes with cherries and use several different chilies and make it pretty hot.

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This salsa is amazing! I made it last year but didn’t leave a comment, probably because I was too busy eating all the salsa. Just finished a batch today and thought I would add my two cents that I used about 18 pounds of roma tomatoes to get the 10 cups for this recipe. Perfect salsa every single time! I used 5 jalapenos and it has just a hint of heat, which is perfect for me, a self-proclaimed spice wimp. Thanks for another fool-proof recipe, Mel!
I have not made your salsa recipe yet, but am going to try it when my tomatoes are ready! I wanted to ask if you have ever used the oven to process your canning? Or know any food safety issues about using it? Would love to hear your thoughts and recommendations! Someone suggested it to me years ago and I thought it made sense, same temp as boiling water and in the oven for same amount of time, or longer maybe. Thanks
Salsa IS its own food group. Or at least it should be and while we’re at that we could decide it counts as one of your five a day, too ;). I eat salsa every day yet sadly can’t find my favourite organic brand [and there actually is only one brand and kind of organic salsa available in anyway] anymore living in the countryside now. The only ones available contain sugar and even though it’s not a ton I don’t like the fact. At least my dippers are vegetables.
Ever since my return from California, I knew Mexican Food was something I had to perfect at home. A noble cause since I knew next to nothing about cooking back then and had no idea about procurement and use of special ingredients. For nearly 15 years, though, I have tried. For nearly 15 years I’ve experimented, failed, learned my lessons and adjusted… To a point where I now feel reasonably confident doing what I joked about upon leaving sunny Southern California: Writing a Beginner’s Guide To Mexican Food.
If you are canning salsa, is important to use recipes that are formulated and tested for safe home canning. Salsa recipes for water bath canning must meet acidity-level requirements to prevent the growth of botulism bacteria. This recipe is from the “Zesty Salsa” recipe in the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. The only differences between the recipe below and the “Zesty Salsa” recipe is this recipe is cut in half. The ratio of ingredients is the same and maintains the proper acidity level required for safe canning.

Below in a comment from early August it said to get the 10 cups it would be about 8-12 tomatoes. I used about 30 medium size roma type tomatoes (filled 2 large sheet pans) and after peeling, chopping and draining I only end up with 6 cups of tomatoes. Did you meant o say 8-12lbs and not tomatoes or am I doing something wrong ? I ask because I change the ratio of ingredients off of that and do not want to mess the PH if somehow I am measuring wrong though not sure how I would be.
Mexican food, essentially, mirrors the country of Mexico itself: a proud indigenous culture attempted destroyed by an overpowering invading force but managing to somehow withhold enough principles and key elements to remain entirely its own while becoming something decidedly new: A mix of tradition and innovation all stirred up in a melting pot for some 500 years to create flavors that are neither Mesoamerican nor Spanish, but decidedly Mexican: hearty, comforting, powerful, colorful and full of spice!
I made this today, ate a few test bites (delicious!), took a quick Instagram shot, and then had to run to a volleyball tournament. During our down time, a few of my teammates saw the picture and begged me to run home and grab the salsa. I did, and came back with an extra bag of chips. Four girls and one and a half bags of chips and we demolished THE ENTIRE BOWL. I sent the link to at least five people who requested it and was begged to bring more to the next game. So thank you! Not only for a fantastic recipe (to which I will only add a tiny bit more heat), but for practically making me a culinary god among my friends!
The salsa will have a more desirable consistency if skins, seeds and cores are removed prior to processing. Skins can be easily removed by blanching the tomatoes. To blanch, place batches of tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Immediately submerge the boiled tomatoes in a bowl of ice water. The skins will easily peel off, and the peeled tomatoes can be sliced, cored and seeded, chopped, then drained of excess water.
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and heat, stirring frequently, until mixture boils. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle hot salsa into pint jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process in a boiling-water canner for 15 minutes at 0–1,000 feet elevation, 20 minutes at 1,001–6,000 feet, and 25 minutes above 6,000 feet.

Now to the topic at hand – I’ve had the same concerns as you, especially since my dear husband is Mexican! We loved the canned salsa I made for the first week or two, then it was too vinegary, so now I use it for stuff like zucchini squash to use it up. Haven’t tried it again because, well we don’t have enough tomatoes yet and am leery about the vinegar and how to make it spicy enough. I never thought to skimp on the onions to compensate!!!
Many people, not only in America but certainly across the globe have a warped perception of Mexican food. They either draw a likeness between Mexican food and Tex-Mex or they overly simplify things. Firstly, Tex Mex is not Mexican Food! Tex Mex is American food, made in America by either Latin American or American chefs drawing influences from a combination of American, Mexican and Latin American dishes. Now calm down, children, I’m not saying that proper Tex Mex is inferior to real Mexican food, I’m saying it’s a totally different animal altogether.
Please remember that I’m just a gal who reads a lot and spends way too much time in her kitchen. I’m not a doctor, nurse, scientist, or even a real chef, and certainly the FDA hasn't evaluated anything on this blog. Any products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please talk to your health professional (or at least your spouse) before doing anything you might think is questionable. Trust your own judgment…I can’t be liable for problems that occur from bad decisions you make based on content found here.
No, Linda, this would not be safe to can using grape and/or cherry tomatoes, they are much to low in acid. There might be a salsa recipe developed specifically for them, but I don’t know of one. You can always freeze it and then it would be fine – and yes, process all in a food processor without peeling! I’ve frozen this salsa before and it does fine, so this may be a good option for using up your small tomatoes.

I did make it and it was delicious.   I actually froze the tomatoes until I had time to use them.  I washed them and froze them whole in gallon size freezer bags.  When time to use, I defrosted tomatoes on counter top  for about two hours,  the skin came off easily and chopping the tomatoes up wasn’t a mess because it was still semi frozen.  This method worked perfectly actually.  Then I followed the instructions for this recipe.  The salsa turned out perfect.  Very tasty.  I canned several for later enjoyment.  Excellent recipe, thanks for sharing!
Oh my goodness! I made one batch of this and it was very good. But I “chopped” the tomatoes in my Vitamix so it wasn’t very chunky. Just made a double batch and hand chopped the tomatoes. I let them drain as I was chopping them. I’m always concerned about the measurements for tomatoes since that is the iffy, low-acid ingredient. (When I read about cooks reducing the salsa or draining the salsa with a slotted spoon as they jar it, I wonder how you know if your final product is safe?) At any rate, I added 3t of bitter-sweet Spanish paprika and 2T of sugar. I literally had to swat my husband away from the pot while I was working after I gave him a taste. Phenomenal! (And I’m assuming that those minor amounts of extra spices won’t alter the acidity unfavorably.) Thanks for a great recipe!
Rinse tomatoes and peppers. Core tomatoes and score a small "X" in the blossom end. Place tomatoes and peppers on hot grill and close lid. Turn frequently until peppers are charred and blistered and pretty much black all over. Tomatoes should have some blackened spots and blistered enough to remove the skins. Remove from grill. Place peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam for several minutes. Let tomatoes cool a bit on a cutting board until you can handle.
Katie, a 35 minute processing time is TOO long for salsa- the reason your canned tomatoes need that long is because you don’t add a cup of vinegar. Do a quick Google search to find that all the reputable salsa recipes call for 15 minute processing time (extension services, and the Ball Blue Book are two)- even for the recipes that have tomato paste added. I know you said it will make you feel better to go longer, but there are good reasons not to: energy costs and over-cooking the salsa are two good ones.
When my friends at Nuts.com asked me to create a recipe with their stemless chiles de arbol, I knew right away that I had to share the authentic salsa roja recipe. Sold in one pound bags, Nuts.com makes it easy to order any chile you wish from the comfort of your own home. Since I don’t always have time to get the the Mexican grocery store, this was music to my ears.
Hi, I came across your recipe and am eager to try it, but have never done any canning before, so I dont have a canner. I’ve tried doing a little research, and am a little overwhelmed, so I thought I would ask the source. Is this recipe safe to can in a water bath method, just covering it with boiling water for the recommended time in a big pot? Forgive me if that is a stupid question! Thanks so much, I cant wait to try it!!
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