Ultra Gel is ultrafine cornstarch, which is used to thicken the salsa. It is now the preferred product for thickening when canning. I recently purchased Ultra Gel, which is GMO free. Clear Jel is a similar product. When I first made this home canned salsa recipe, it called for cornstarch, but Ultra Gel and Clear Jel are now recommended over corn starch for canning.
Oh p.s I ran out of tomatoes – totally misjudged how many I needed for a double batch – so I had to run to store for more.  Instead of getting fresh tomatoes, I just got canned crushed tomatoes,  and drained them in colander.  So my salsa was half fresh tomatoes, and half tinned,  and it was super yum.  Next time I’ll just use tinned (never as good,  I know)  when Im lazy and can’t be bothered skinning the tomatoes.  
Delicious!!!  As far a second knowing how many tomatoes to use, you mentioned somewhere that it was three sheet pans of halved tomatoes.  Using this information, I collected my garden tomatoes on my counter by placing them on my baking sheet.  When I had my baking sheet full plus another half, I knew I had enough tomatoes (or at least that I would be close once I drained them).  Turned out great!!  Even my daughter who can tell handle spicy foods LOVES this salsa!
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!
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!

Start with fresh ingredients. The fresher they are the better the results. Don’t use canned tomatoes. It gives the salsa a metallic taste. You’ll notice that there aren’t any limes in the recipe. Whhhaaattt? Limes throw off the balance of flavors by overpowering the flavor of the tomatoes. But, if you prefer your salsa with lime try adding the juice from only one lime.
Hey Ann – I would recommend making the salsa and refrigerating (as a large batch), reheating on the day you want to process, and then putting the hot salsa into warmed jars before processing. Proper food safety for steam canning means the jars need to stay as warm as possible before filling, during filling, and right as they go onto the steam canner.
Roast the ingredients until they start showing some blistering and look slightly softened, turning them to make sure they roast evenly. The garlic cooks in a few minutes and you will need to remove it, peel the skin, and set aside. The roasting process will take about 8 minutes. If your tomatoes don’t look to softened, wrap them in aluminum foil for about 10 minutes, this will help them to finish cooking.
If you’ve tried this Fire Roasted Salsa or any other recipe on the blog, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how yours turned out in the comments below ~ I love hearing from you!  You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more of what I’m cooking in my kitchen and recipes.  Never miss a post ~ sign up for The Hungry Bluebird Newsletter for a weekly email of new content.
Thank you for such a well thought out recipe! I am a beginner and will be attempting your recipe today. I have some overripe tomatoes and just ripe tomatoes that would be perfect for canning. I am thinking of just doing two batches – one that I will refrigerate or eat right away and the other batch will be for canning. I have enough tomatoes to do both and I am devoted to getting them canned and store asap! Anyway – I will let you know how it turns out. You have made me hopeful that I can do it 🙂
This is pretty much my exact recipe, only I stopped measuring a long time ago and I’ve never tried using canned tomatoes along with the fresh. Fresh salsa is definitely the way to go. I can’t even eat canned salsa anymore. One thing I do sometimes to add depth is to roast the tomato, garlic, and jalapeno (just throw it all on a baking sheet and let it go for about 20 minutes at 400F, turning once if I’m not feeling too lazy). This in combo with the fresh cilantro and lime juice gets rave reviews. I bet using canned tomatoes would add a similar depth!
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!!!
Why this meticulous approach to chili picking? Well, for the simple reason that it adds a stunning complexity to the salsa and provides the best possible product: a salsa roja that is at one time bright, fresh, fruity and acidic and at the same time rich, deep and complex in flavor with a noticeable, warming but not overpowering heat profile. This, in my own humble words, make it the PERFECT all-round salsa for every application including dipping, slathering, spreading, cooking or mixing.
UPDATE 09/06/17: Lots of you have asked for a weight measure on the tomatoes. I’ve been canning this salsa the last few days and experimented weighing and measuring tomatoes. The result? Tomatoes are unpredictable! Meaning, the exact weight  (that will yield the 10 cups drained needed in the recipe) is EXTREMELY variable depending on the type of tomato used.
Fresh cilantro would decrease the acidity, Rose, so I’d be careful – maybe 1/4 c. but then decrease the onions or peppers by a couple tablespoons or increase the vinegar by a tablespoon? I like to play it safe – I know many people can salsa that’s full of fresh ingredients, but food is just not worth playing with for me, so I try to go by the book. Personally, if we want cilantro, we add it when we use it – it tastes fresher then, too. 🙂

Hi Heather – from all the reading I did on that recipe, the lady who created the recipe, Annie, developed it and had it tested at her local extension office years ago. There are a lot of threads on the Garden web forum – I looked for a few minutes and couldn’t find the original thread I had read but here’s a couple that might help (there’s LOTS of discussion on there about the proper way to make the salsa without messing up the pH levels and making it unsafe):
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.
Since many of you have asked about a weight measure for the 10 cups of tomatoes, as I’ve been canning the salsa the last few days, I’ve done a little experimenting/research. Basically, I’ve found it varies GREATLY depending on variety. When I used SIX pounds of Roma + every day garden tomatoes, after taking the skins off, lightly crushing, and draining, the yield of tomatoes to use in this recipe was about 2 1/2 cups. When I used TWO pounds of only Roma/paste tomatoes, after taking the skins off, lightly crushing, and draining, the yield of tomatoes to use was a little over one cup. I tend to err on the side of over draining the tomatoes, if anything, so that makes a difference as well. For me, because I usually use paste tomatoes in this recipe, I would plan on around 18-20 pounds (give or take) of Roma/paste tomatoes to get the 10 cups for this recipe…and even more if using tomatoes with a higher water/lower flesh content.
karinagw, thank you for the glowing report! We also enjoy salsa with a little more texture. Next time you can add more peppers for extra spice. We have several friends who don't enjoy the flavor of cilantro, either. One says it tastes like dirt! So we have experimented with cilantro-less salsa and found a little lime rounds on the flavors. Thanks again for your feedback. Have a great week.
I have 2 Victorio brand steam canners that I love hard. They both have temperature gauges on top and show when you are in the correct temperature range to start timing. It’s been life changing! I had two other steam canners without the gauges that I got rid of and replaced with these. I have also found by watching the temp gauges that I can turn the heat down to med-low and still keep the temp in the correct range. Yay! It saves propane! (I can outside on my camp stove.)
Hi Jami. I was wondering if after eating the salsa all winter you are still happy with the no peel/food processor chopping? Do you not notice the peels at all? I know when I miss a few peels making other things they kind of curl up and float on top. I made this recipe last year for the first time and love it! I have also been searching for a thick recipe and was also using the oregonian recipe so I was so happy to find this one. Thanks!
Sanitize all salsa jars prior to canning tomato salsa by running them through a dishwasher or hand-washing them with soap and hot water. Boil lids to ensure that they are clean. Avoid adding extra ingredients such as cornstarch or flour in an attempt to thicken salsa prior to canning it. Jar lids should be checked 24 hours after canning. If they have not sealed according to the sealing characteristics of the particular brand of jars, the cook should consume or discard the salsa within one week of refrigeration.
Thank you for such a well thought out recipe! I am a beginner and will be attempting your recipe today. I have some overripe tomatoes and just ripe tomatoes that would be perfect for canning. I am thinking of just doing two batches – one that I will refrigerate or eat right away and the other batch will be for canning. I have enough tomatoes to do both and I am devoted to getting them canned and store asap! Anyway – I will let you know how it turns out. You have made me hopeful that I can do it 🙂 

This recipe is great as long as you don’t use all of the cooking water when adding the vegetables to the blender. If you do, you’ll end up with the runny, watery “soup” that commenters above complained about. Spoon the boiled vegetables into the blender, then add the water from the pan *as needed* to liquify the ingredients. You need maybe half the amount of water that you boiled the ingredients with. And if it’s still too watery, simmer it for longer during the final stage until the consistency is right. I think the recipe should be re-worded a little to reflect this issue.
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.
Step 11: Some of you may not like spicy salsa.  I get that.   Add a small amount of jalapeno, about a tbsp. anyway.  The tiny amount will not add much spiciness, but it will add a nice depth of flavor.  If you like your salsa really spicy, add as much as you like, or even try a spicier pepper.  I just want an obvious kick, but nothing too hot.  About 2 tbsp. was enough for me.  Remember that the salsa will get spicier as it cooks and processes.
I would like to say thank you for posting this salsa recipe. This is the first time I have every comment on a recipe I have come across on the internet. I made a double batch of this salsa yesterday. Followed recipe exact. I tasted the salsa before canning. It yielded 17 pints. Probably could have made 18 if I wouldn’t have eaten any. It was delicious. All the fresh flavors blended together perfectly. My family was overly complimentary of the taste as well. My daughter said it was the best she has every tasted in her life. That is saying a lot since she is a big fan of Mexican food, starting with chips and salsa. My husband couldn’t stop praising me, which I loved! This morning for breakfast, he had to have an omelet with salsa. At this rate I will have to make another batch before the season is over. Again, thank you, it is truly the “Best Homemade Salsa”. I would also like to add one more thing…the tip about putting tomatoes in the oven instead of boiling and ice bath was great. It was fast and easy. I have never heard this method before but I will be peeling my tomatoes that way from now on.
For a hot salsa, I use 4 jalapenos with the seeds. For a mild salsa, I seed 1-2 of the jalapenos before chopping. Remember that the heat will lessen as the salsa sits, so I tend to error on being spicy than not. However, you can taste while it’s cooking so if you want more, you can always add more. It’s hard to correct spice level so if you don’t like things spicy, then start with only 1 jalapeno and go from there.
This is REALLY good salsa, I’m making more today. I made one batch as written, and a second test batch with green tomatoes without the addition of the paste and sauce and it was also good. You might want to move that great infographic up higher on the page, I totally missed it until I came back to comment after making the recipe :). Thanks for sharing, great recipe!
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!
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!
Great question, Liz…and very timely. I’ve been making batches of this salsa for the last few days and keep forgetting to weigh the tomatoes for a precise measurement. I am making another batch tomorrow and will do so and report back! So much depends on the variety and exact size of the tomato, so I’ll get a weight measure that will take the guesswork out of it. You definitely want to use a full 10 cups of chopped tomatoes for proper pH levels.
One can indeed use a pressure canner for canning salsa . I always use Roma tomatoes and never use the tomatoe paste (optional) in the recipe . It never turns out to liquidity or mushy ,not ever . Very certain the reason for that is the Roma’s are a meaty tomato. I have tried the water bath method as well with this recipe , both have the same consistency. I pressure can at 10 lbs. of pressure for 15 min. Adjust lbs. of pressure for your elevation .
This dish should be baked at the previously mentioned temperature for 25 to 35 minutes or until the chicken is tender and juicy. At this point, all of its juices should run clear. Once this task is done, then the cheddar cheese should be spread over the chicken halves before the dish is sent back into the oven for three to five minutes. During this time, the cheese will have the chance to melt over top of the chicken. It can be served hot and bubbly, and sour cream can be served on it by option.
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.
We made this a couple of weeks ago and pretty much followed your recipe to the letter except we were using tomatoes from our own garden and didn’t bother to peel them. Chopping them pretty small helped. We also added more jalapenos because we like heat. We had several foodies here for game night later that evening and everyone raved about it. Thank you so much for the recipe. It’s a keeper.

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 !
The key to this recipe is to char the tomatoes and peppers on the stovetop. I tried to do it in the oven once and roast the tomatoes & peppers, bad move. It will take you about 20 minutes, but sooooooo worth the wait. You’ll need to rotate the veggies from time to time, so all the sides are pretty even. Here is what the vegetables will look like once they are done:
When I was pregnant with my son, I was completely addicted to Chili’s salsa and chips.  I wanted to eat there ALL the time, and even when I wasn’t eating there I was trying to convince my husband to stop there on his way home to pick up some take out lol.  He was always less than pleased.  I still love their salsa, but since it’s not really cost effective to buy it, or go out to eat all the time, I figured that I would just find a way to make it at home 🙂

I added a tea spoon of fine ground hot pepper. now thats the slight hot I like and no tomato paste. I like it wet …Great recipe. the first time I ever made salsa and I am glad I found the perfect recipe.. on top of it all. its just like a recipe of a so called semi friend. that had his own recipe I liked and he wouldnt give it up. well ..he can bite this. now!! I got it. if not better ..ha ha !! you and your grand mother knew your stuff… Thanks !!


I would like to say thank you for posting this salsa recipe. This is the first time I have every comment on a recipe I have come across on the internet. I made a double batch of this salsa yesterday. Followed recipe exact. I tasted the salsa before canning. It yielded 17 pints. Probably could have made 18 if I wouldn’t have eaten any. It was delicious. All the fresh flavors blended together perfectly. My family was overly complimentary of the taste as well. My daughter said it was the best she has every tasted in her life. That is saying a lot since she is a big fan of Mexican food, starting with chips and salsa. My husband couldn’t stop praising me, which I loved! This morning for breakfast, he had to have an omelet with salsa. At this rate I will have to make another batch before the season is over. Again, thank you, it is truly the “Best Homemade Salsa”. I would also like to add one more thing…the tip about putting tomatoes in the oven instead of boiling and ice bath was great. It was fast and easy. I have never heard this method before but I will be peeling my tomatoes that way from now on.
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