Tomatillo Salsa: an intro to canning

I want to introduce my lovely readers to the concept of canning, which is not nearly as difficult as everyone makes it sound. All you need is a large pot, some mason jars, and a lot of something you want to preserve. It's a great way to save those end of season vegetables for use later. Even if you don't have a garden, you can get a lot of awesome things at the farmers market and make things just because they sound delicious.

First, this recipe (and most of my canning recipes) comes from the Ball Home Preserving book. It's awesome and gives really great advice

There are a few things to know about canning:

FIRST, boil the jars, lids and bands before adding anything to them. This sanitizes them and prevents the jars from breaking when you add hot liquid. The book says you don't need to fully boil them, but what can it hurt?

SECOND, pay attention to the time. It won't make much of a difference with salsa, but with jam or pickled vegetables cooking time is very important

THIRD, hot jars should never be placed directly on a surface like the kitchen counter. The temperature difference can cause the glass to break. Always place hot jars on a kitchen towel

FOURTH, if the button is still up the next day (the button that makes the popping noise on the lid) then it did not seal properly. It won't have the shelf life of normal canned goods.

The most important thing: be very careful when taking jars out of the water. I use a combination of tongs and a large spoon to put jars in and out of the pot, but I've dropped/broken jars before that way. It can be tricky, but they do sell jar lifters, if you are interested in that

And now salsa recipe

Tomatillo Salsa (makes four 8 oz jars)


  • 5 1/2 cups chopped cored husked tomatillos
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped seeded green chili peppers
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 4 tbsp lime juice
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes


  1. Prepare canner lids and jars. Place jars in a pot filled with room temperature water and bring to a boil. Boil the lids and bands separately in a small pot so they are easier to remove. This prevents jars from breaking when the hot liquid is introduced. Carefully remove jars from water after your salsa has finished cooking.
  2. Combine tomatillos, onion, chili peppers, vinegar, lime juice, garlic, cilantro, cumin, salt and hot pepper flakes. Bring to boil while stirring constantly, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes
  3. Carefully remove jars from the water to place on a kitchen towel (also prevents breakage) and fill with salsa, leaving half an inch of headspace at the top. Take a popsicle stick and move it along the edges of the jar to get rid of any air bubbles. Adjust headspace accordingly.
  4. Wipe rims of jars, center lids, and screw on bands until they are fingertip tight. Carefully place them back in the boiling water (I use tongs and a large spoon), making sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch.  Place a lid on the pot and boil jars for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove lid and leave jars another 5 minutes.
  5. Remove jars from water and leave untouched for at least 12 hours to make sure the lids seal properly. Check the next day to make sure that button is down to know it has sealed properly.

Note: The salsa will taste very sour at first, but it mellows out given time in the jar and chilled in the refrigerator. I added a little honey and more salt while it boiled to counterbalance the sour flavor. It made a spicy, slightly sweet and sour salsa, which I really liked even though it was a little different.