This year I wanted to can salsa again, and I’d just had a little bit of that Mexican salsa (served with a quesadilla at a local organic restaurant, if you’re curious) and it reminded me that that was what I wanted to go for.  So, I set into my kitchen with 54 lbs. of tomatoes and decided to use some of them to make a small batch of salsa.  If it was just “okay” I’d have a few pints to eat up through the year and that would be it.  If it was great, I’d make more batches.  It’s pretty safe to say I’ll be making more. 🙂

If you live in a town with a noticeable Mexican or Latin American community, chances are you’ll be able to find a specialty store carrying these goods, if not there’s always the good, old, world wide web. Many websites carry and even specialize in Mexican and Latin American ingredients. If you live in Denmark like me, try out chilihouse.dk for example, they’re a great one stop resource and they’re not even paying me to say that!
I have just finished the first batch of your salsa. I say first because I will do another. Ended up with 15 pts. and enough for a bowl to try. I have thrown away all other cooked/canned salsa recipes because this one ROCKS!!!! I followed your recipe almost exactly. I used fresh oregano since I had some. Chopped all ingredients kinda chuncky and added a sprinkle of smoked dried tobacco peppers. I did not use the ultra gel as I have had a bad experience with it hardening the food but I drained the heck out of all the vegetables so as not to have watery salsa. This recipe has restored my faith in home canned salsa. Thank you for sharing
IMPORTANT: Follow the directions carefully and exactly for each recipe. Use the amounts of each vegetable listed in the recipe. Add the amount of vinegar or lemon juice listed. You may decrease the amount of spices if desired. Do not can salsas that do not follow these or other research-tested recipes. These salsas may be frozen or stored in the refrigerator. Do not thicken salsas with flour or cornstarch before canning. After you open a jar to use, you may pour off some of the liquid or thicken with cornstarch.
Crunchy tortilla “chips” originated in Mexico in the form of tostados.  But the famous triangle-shaped tortilla chip is credited to, or at least was popularized by, Rebecca Webb Carranza several decades ago in Los Angeles.  She and her husband owned a tortilla factory and their automated machines would discard any misshapen tortilla shells.  Rather than throw them away, Rebecca discovered that cutting these corn tortilla shells into triangles an then frying them made a fantastic snack.  Tortilla chips began to be mass produced in the 1940’s and their popularity spread outside of California and across the U.S. in the 1970’s.  Years later she received the Golden Tortilla Award for her contribution to the Mexican food industry.

On adjusting recipes: I know you want to “make this your own,” but with canning recipes, you can only do so much. It’s important for food safety to have the proper ratio of acidic to non-acidic foods. The tomatoes are acidic, but the peppers, onions, and garlic are not. That’s why you must add the vinegar, and you can’t really mess with the amounts of peppers. You could, however, fiddle with green peppers and colored bells, or sub some of the jalapenos out for a milder pepper if you don’t like it so spicy. Just don’t be too generous with your helpings and overdo the amounts. That’s one thing I love about this recipe – it gives quantities in cups, rather than forcing me to scratch my head and wonder which onion is “small” and which green pepper fits the “medium” category. See this article on Modifying Canning Recipes and Food Safety for more details.
Thinking of making this but I’m from Texas and I like my salsa spicy.  I don’t like salsa that tastes like bland tomatoes or like a can of Rotel.  I like it spicy but not lips on fire hot. If I left the seeds and membranes in the jalapeños would it be too hot?  I’m also not sure about sugar or green peppers in the salsa.  I definitely don’t want sweet salsa.  What recommendations can you give me to make the salsa with some kick to it?
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.

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!


However, if you recently canned them, you’re okay to keep it – you don’t have to throw it away! Being improperly canned just means they can’t be stored at room temp for months and months. Just move the cans to a refrigerator for storage for a month or two. For longer storage, transfer the salsa to freezer-safe containers (leaving room to expand) and freeze. Salsa freezes well! If you have more ingredients, definitely try again using this recipe and the updates I now use in preparation if you have a food processor. 🙂


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.
We find that while the jalapenos created quite a spicy salsa right off the bat, it mellows considerably by the next summer. So, if you plan to make your salsa last through the year, you might want to make it a bit spicier than you prefer to allow for the peppers to mellow. Tasting (with a clean spoon) is key when you are adding your peppers to the vegetable mixture; so that you find a heat level you are comfortable with.
Douglas, I was just wondering about using the iron skillet or comal and the tomatoes. I tried a different recipe the other day and used my iron skillet to toast the ancho chilies, tomatoes and serrano peppers it called for. After blending all the ingredients, I used the same skillet to heat and cook the finished sauce. I only thought about it after the fact and wondered if the acidic sauce changed in flavor by using the iron skillet. I am sure our grandmothers used their iron for everything and never worried about the acid in them, so I am sure this question is moot, but I still want to know. I am not a very good cook, even though I try, and last weeks sauce did not turn out very tasty. I am going to give this one a try and hope it comes out better. Thank you for posting this.

Making this right this very second. Following exactly to start with..except am throwing in a couple of Thai peppers along with the 4 smallish jalapenos...which I may regret...them things are supposed to be killer hot. I will say, that it is taking significantly longer than the 10 minutes prep time for the water to simmer off (step 2), but I'm in no huge hurry....I have wine.


Alright, enough talk. Let’s cook! Well, okay, one last thing before we get down to business. Please note that this salsa roja recipe uses whole, dried chilies which is my absolute preferred and highly recommended way of doing things. If, for whatever reason, you would like to use dried, ground chilies instead, you should add them near the end at step #7 in the recipe below.

The exact weight of tomatoes will depend on the variety you use. I like to use roma (paste tomatoes) if I have them because the water content is less but any kind of tomato will work. The key is to peel the tomatoes and let them drain. See the step-by-step tutorial below the recipe for a visual. I like to pull out and discard the thicker white core of the tomatoes.
Many Americans and Europeans seem to think that when it comes to salsa making, the only chili for the job is the darling Jalapeño, a practice many Mexican cooks have but overbearing smiles in stock for as they reach instead for their trusted Serrano peppers – a strangely similar but much hotter kind of beast. Others swear by Chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce as a Salsa Roja stable, while tough guys reach for top shelf stuff like the entirely too hot Habanero or even Ghost Peppers.

Sometime late September I made a batch of salsa using this recipe. It WAS the best salsa I’ve ever had. Like you said just the right balance of flavors and not too spicy. I have a jar to a friend and her guests loved it too. I don’t have much left so will make sure I make more next. The tomatoes I used were from my garden – two varieties plus some Roma tomatoes. It’s the mix of tomatoes that helps make this recipe so good. Thanks to you for making it available. 

To start this recipe off, take out a medium-sized mixing bowl. Then, combined the tomatoes, onion, garlic, lime juice, tomatillo, and salt to taste into the mix. These items need to be mixed well and thoroughly incorporated. If you want to add a kick into the salsa, then add half of the jalapeno. If you are looking for something with a greater kick, then you can rely on the other half of the jalapeno. This dish needs to be refrigerated and chilled thoroughly before it is served for the best results.
I have been making salsa like this for years with a couple tweaks I love garlic so I roast everything then chop it up nicely I also add a little garlic salt to brighten up the flavor and if at all possible use home grown veggies especially the tomatoes. People rave over this salsa thanks for this site I love Mexican food especially salsa with lots of peppers in it
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