chunky farmer’s market salsa

I passed a food milestone yesterday. A friend of my mothers came through town last week bearing an armload of a gift: my mother’s old hot water canner. (Basically, a big black speckled pot with a metal rack inside.)

My late-summer dreams of salsas, jams, and chutneys are inching ever closer. Yesterday, with a little help from Central New York farmers, I canned for the first time.



With a few weeks of research under my belt and the fear of botulism clinging fiercely to my hope, I set out to make a batch of salsa worthy of chips and tostadas. The great stuff at the stores is well over 5$, and the cheaper stuff is barely dressed-up ketchup. It just wasn’t worth it anymore.

I scoured the internet for recipes, finally settling on one from  I wanted chunks of tomato and good fresh peppers, and despite the recipe writer’s disdain for spelling and grammar, this one seemed to fit the bill.



A lazy hour at the farmer’s market outfitted me perfectly for my first adventure in jars: a flat of pint jars for $10, an assortment of peppers for $4, and tomatoes to last a lifetime for $9.

Equipped with my bounty, my canner, and some 80’s music, I proceeded to make six and a half pints of salsa in an afternoon. We polished off the half pint with some locally-made tortilla chips, feeling like good slow-foodies with every crunchy bite. The only adjustments I’ll make next time will be to add a little more heat; it turns out those little Serrano peppers weren’t as hot as they felt on my fingertips!

The next day I checked the jars and each one of them had sealed properly. My salsa not only tasted great, but it would keep for months without crowding my fridge.

Farmer’s Market (Chunky) Salsa

Please be familiar with the proper canning procedure before you start making this salsa. There are lots of great resources out there, on YouTube, Bon Appetit, and home food preservation sites.

7 pounds of tomatoes (half Romas, half regular)
*3 – 3½ cups of peppers: Bell, Anaheim, Poblano, Jalapeno, and Serrano chili peppers (see end note for different spice-yielding amounts)
2 cups chopped onion
1 bunch fresh cilantro, washed and coarsely chopped
4-6 garlic cloves, minced (depending on how garlicky you like your salsa!)
½ cup white vinegar (5%)
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tsp dried cumin (opt)
1 tsp dried oregano (opt)
1 can of black beans

  1. Wash and dice the tomatoes, measuring 14-15 cups. Let drain. Using gloves, seed and chop the peppers.
  2. When the tomatoes have drained for about 10 minutes, add all the ingredients to a large stockpot, bring to a boil, and simmer until it’s a slightly thinner consistency than you want the end product to be. (I simmered for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.) While you wait for it to come to a boil, sterilize your jars in the boiling-water canner and your rings and lids in a saucepan of simmering water.
  3. Ladle the salsa into the hot jars using a funnel, leaving ½ inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims and adjust the lids and rings on snugly. Process the jars in a boiling-water bath for 15 minutes for 8 oz and pints and 20 minutes for quarts. Start the timer when water has reacquired a boil, keep the lid on, and make sure the water is boiling the whole time.
  4. At the end of the processing time, turn off the heat and let the cans cool in the water for 5 minutes. Remove the jars using the jar lifter, and cool on racks or a think towel. Wait till the next morning to check for correct seal. If not sealed, put in the refrigerator, and use within two weeks.

*The mix I used: 1 Red Bell (sweet), 1 Italian long green (not hot), 3 Hungarian (barely hot), 1 Poblano (little hot), 3 Jalapeno (medium hot) and 1 Serrano (very hot) chili pepper. Click on the links to learn more about each one. My salsa was barely medium-hot. To modify the spiciness of this salsa, simply increase the ratio of the hot peppers to the sweet peppers.

12 thoughts on “chunky farmer’s market salsa

  1. September 14, 2009 at 8:23 am

    Salsa is the one think I always make/can this time of year. Though this year I did jam (for the first time). I always use apple cider vinegar in mine.

    I find you never know how hot it is going to turn out – even if you use the same type of hot peppers every time, you can’t guarantee how hot they will be from one time to the next. Still, it usually blows the store-bought stuff right out of the water.

    1. January 1, 2013 at 1:25 am

      when I was started ciannng 35 years ago I started with the water bath method. Then the steam canners became popular’ so I bought one. It definitely saved time and consequently energy. And when I was really doing big batches I’d have the water bath and steam canners both going. I haven’t done much ciannng for about 15 years and started hearing cautions about the steam canner. Now that I AM ciannng again my steam canner sits on my garage shelf and I’m just using the water bath method. If someday someone comes out with some good research that makes me feel good about the steam canner I’d definitely be interested in using it again. Until then I’ll stay cautious and use methods that I know will be safe for my family. Isn’t one of the reasons we are ciannng because we like knowing what is in our foods and that it’s the highest quality possible? Then I certainly can’t justify using a method that might jeopardize my family .too bad I really did like that steam canner!

  2. September 14, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Canning by yourself for the first time is so exciting! You must be proud, and the salsa looks lovely.

  3. lisa
    September 14, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Thanks for the great recipe. I definitely want to try my hand at canning this fall too. One unrelated question, though. Where did you find the local tortilla chips?

  4. Meg
    September 14, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    How did you get past the fear of botulism?? I’ve been wanting to try canning since harvest time last year, and the more I read the more afraid I got! Does the vinegar help prevent it? Or is a proper seal a sure sign that your batch won’t get botched? And is there any way to tell that your salsa got infected?

    1. Jen
      September 14, 2009 at 6:34 pm

      Hmmm, I just plunged ahead. “They” (ie: the research I read) say that high acid foods like fruits and tomatoes are the safest to can. That’s why you can use a water bath canner rather than a pressure canner. Check out my YouTube link for a thorough discussion of this. I think the vinegar does help, too. My cans seem to have sealed just fine, and so I’m just hoping everything inside went as well as it appeared to on the outside!

    2. January 1, 2013 at 7:44 pm

      I love your newsletter!Question: For caninng jams and jellies do you need a pressure cooker or would the water bath method work just as well? I read in one blog that you should use a pressure cooker vs a water bath.Thanks,Nancy

  5. Sheri Ward
    September 17, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Your salsa looks just gorgeous, and I am sure it tastes even better than it looks! Glad you are making use of my old canner…it was very sad and lonely sitting on my basement shelf. I am sure it is quite happy to have found new life in your kitchen!

  6. September 17, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    Wow, your salsa looks great. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Susan
    September 18, 2009 at 6:42 am

    Bring some of that to me in Berlin! It will go great with my endless wursts.

  8. September 18, 2009 at 7:34 am

    Congratulations! Isn’t amazing how such a large amount of ingredients condenses down to just a few jars?!

  9. Matt Ward
    September 29, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    that was tasty stuff!!!