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The Damsel made her first batch of salsa for the year today. There’ll be more.

The Damsel would like to inform you that canning salsa isn’t tricky. The skill level is similar to boiling water. But it ain’t for sissies, either. It takes a while. There’s a good bit of working on your feet, and there’s the heat.

On the good side . . . (pause while the Damsel tries to think of a good side) . . . she only saw one bug during the entire process, and it was a dead spider in the bottom of an empty canning jar. It could have been much worse. There could have been earwigs. It was a completely earwigless day.

And of course there was another good side . . . yummy salsa was made and put away for a winter’s day.

In order to can salsa safely, you have to follow strict recipes and directions. That’s because salsa contains both acid vegetables (tomatoes) and non-acid vegetables (onions and peppers). The balance of acid has to be high enough for it to be safe to do waterbath canning. But the Damsel can’t be bothered with all that. She wants to make salsa her own way, so it tastes the way she likes. And when you pressure can, you don’t have to worry or measure or any of that tedious stuff. When you pressure can your own custom mixtures, you can be safe by figuring out which vegetable in your mixture requires the longest processing time, and then use that time.

But the Damsel is getting way ahead of herself.

First, get the goods. The Damsel stretched forth her hand to her sprog, who went forth to the cottage garden and brought back Roma tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and a handful of hot peppers.

Here’s how to skin the tomatoes: Heat a large pot of water to boiling. Drop in the washed tomatoes. You can use regular or Roma. “Blanch” them for a minute or two and when their skins split, remove them from the water to cool a bit.  Don’t worry if some tomatoes don’t show a split. If most of the tomatoes in the pot have, the rest are ready as well.

See the split? Now the skins will slip right off. Just nip off the stem with a little knife and poof.

Now the Damsel would like to introduce you to her pet, otherwise known as her grandmother’s grinder. It’s very old school. You put stuff in the top, turn the crank, and perfectly diced things come out. Not like some food processors, that end up pureeing the bottom layer and haphazardly chopping the top layer. Perfect. Perfect. Every time. It can never break, it doesn’t need electricity, and it doesn’t have a million weird little parts to wash. Plus it’s fun to turn the crank. The Damsel has known sprog to fight over the chance.

The Damsel loves her pet, and encourages you to adopt one of your own at your first convenience. As far as she knows, you can only buy them at yard sales.

Dice up your tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers in whatever way seemeth you best if you don’t have a pet. Put it all into a large pot. Add chopped cilantro and garlic, if you know what’s best, plus a lot of salt and pepper. Add some chopped hot peppers, like jalapenos, if you like the heat.

Notice the Damsel hasn’t said how much of anything? She just puts stuff in until it has the balance of red, green, and white that she likes. Taste, taste, taste, and adjust. Taste some more. She guesses the end result if probably 75% tomato, 12% onion, 12% pepper, or something like that.

Oh heaven on a chip.

When it’s just right, ladle into canning jars and assemble the two piece lid/ring, screwing the ring on finger-tight.

The Damsel uses pint jars for salsa. Put 3 or 4 inches of water in the bottom of the pressure canner, along with the rack, and heat to boiling. Put in the jars…as many as will fit. Nine pints fit in the Damsel’s ridiculously big pressure canner. Put on the canner lid tight, and let it start to steam. When a plume of steam is escaping from the vent, set the timer for 10 minutes. Then put on the petcock and pressure will start to build inside the canner. When it reaches 10 lbs. pressure (or whatever pressure you’ve been recommended to use in your area) begin counting processing time. Let the canner cool on its own, then remove the jars and CAREFULLY retighten any jar rings that are very loose.

Here they are, the little beauties. Wait 24 hours and check the seal. If the middle of the lid bops up and down, it didn’t seal, and needs to be refrigerated or reprocessed.

Oh, the delights that now await you! Who can wait for winter?

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  • http://muumsmusings.blogspot.com Muum

    I HAVE a grinder! And to think I was dreading salsa canning, but had to because I am all out of salsa! thanks for the great idea. I have always chopped all those veggies.

  • Chloe Rowles

    We can still buy the grinders at most of the hardware stores in this neck of the woods because all of the oldtimers (and many of the youngtimers) still make their own sausage. Still,,,, I wish I had my mother’s grinder from the 40’s…….. She used it to grind her own hamburger, and ham for ham salad. And, in a pinch, she would even grind up bologna for “ham salad”.

  • Anita

    So, I was wondering how it was done in a pressure canner, and came across your blog, and am excited to make my salsa, as I too, have a grinder which used to be my mothers! I am off to make my salsa! Thanks for the tip!

  • Bob Brown

    The Old School-Teacher (that would be Yours Truly) has determined that one can buy hand-cranked grinders on eBay. Expect to pay $10 to $20 plus shipping. Search on “meat grinder manual” or things similar.

    This is only for city slickers such as myself who no longer have access to a real hardware store. {sigh}

  • rachel

    mmmmm looks like it’s time for a salsa party at the Damsel’s house….I’ll bring the chips!

  • Mary Dixon

    Have you ever had white stuff on the inside of your canned salsa jars???

  • Mary Dixon

    Yes, it is on the glass above the salsa…

  • damselindisdress

    Does it look like hard water deposit, or is it more food-like?

  • Mary Dixon

    It looks and feels like a food like substance.

  • Mary Dixon

    I don’t know when it appeared, I canned this several years ago and we have been eating it. I always wipe it out with a paper towel. I use my salsa mostly in cooking in tacos, chili. I used it the other day making swiss steak, it was very good.
    I have one of the meat grinders and I will try that this year canning my salsa, I don’t like using the food processor for salsa. Thanks for the idea for the meat grinder and the help with my white stuff!!!

  • Marchia

    I just found your website. You sound a lot like me, I like to make salsa my way. I just got a pressure canner for Christmas. I want to make salsa in it. How long do you process the salsa? When I made vege/pasta sauce, I processed qts. for 15 min. according to recipe in canner book. Is it the same with salsa? I want to can pints, & 1/2 pints. I’m curious what you do. Thanks for the great info.


  • Marchia

    I live in New Jersey. Our tomatoes & peppers really produced this year. Since I have so many peppers, my recipe is kind of 40% peppers(or more, I just keep adding till it looks & tastes right), 10% onions & garlic, & 50% tomatoes. I also used lime juice instead of vinegar. I might use some vinegar, not sure. All the info I’ve read is so conflicting. The “Ball Blue Book” says water bath for 15 min., but that’s if you use vinegar, & I want to pressure can them. I really like the tang of the limes, but I haven’t seen a recipe like mine to know for sure. I also have citric acid. My pressure canner book suggested putting 1/2 tsp + 1/2 tsp sugar to balance, per qt. of tomatoes. Maybe I’ll add 1/4 tsp per pint, & process in pressure canner for 15-20 min. It’s hard coming up with the info. when tomatoes & peppers are sitting in the kitchen waiting…& eggplants…& okra &…but salsa is on the stove, so it’s first…gotta go stir & wash some jars, etc…Let me know what you think. Thanks.

  • damselindisdress

    I looked up processing time for straight peppers, which is 35 minutes at 10 pounds, for pints or half pints. You could just do that, to be absolutely on the safe side, but less is probably fine.

    In my opinion you can skip the sugar if you are pressure canning. It’s meant to counterbalance the added vinegar, which is added to up the acidity to make it safe for water-bathing. But since you are pressure canning, you don’t have to add vinegar…unless you want to, for taste. Hope that makes sense!

  • Katie

    Hi! I stumbled on your website looking for pressure canning salsa information and saw Marchia’s question about the white stuff. The Ohio State University Extension office has wonderful information on canning and here is their answer to the question:
    “What causes the deposit around the top surface of some tomato products?
    A white crystalline deposit of calcium acetate may form in highly acidic tomato products, such as chili sauce, ketchup, or salsa. Reactions between the acid (acetic acid) in the food and a component (calcium carbonate in some brands of lids) form calcium acetate. The crystalline deposit is not harmful. When opening the jar, remove and discard crystals.”

    Hope this helps.

  • Bill Bartmann

    Great site…keep up the good work.

  • Renee

    Wow, I’ve alway pressure canned my salsa. Always wanted to use my own recipe. I’ve read this and am confused about one thing. You state to put ingredents in a pot but do not mention to heat or cook before putting into jars. Is that correct? I’ve always raw packed mine, is that ok?

    • Mswarped

      How long do you pressure cook your raw packed salsa?

  • Kathy

    fun, fun, I was looking on line for the time table to pressure cook my salsa and found you… how wonderful! I am a little nervous because my friend brought her very antique pressure cooker over for a salsa canning party. I’ve read where a pressure cooker is not the same as a pressure canner but of course we don’t have original packing material so I believe it is a canner but not certain. It’s made by Burpee Can Sealer Co. It doesn’t have the normal petcock, it only flips open or closed. Same thing as a petcock basically?

  • Kathy

    Hi. Here’s my recipe and I’ve been told that unless you follow specific recipes due to the acid in the tomatoes and the non-acid of onions and garlic, you’ll get poisoned! Anyway, it’s pretty simple but very tasty – if I put it in pint jars, how long to be safe to pressure process? Thanks! Love your site! Recipe: About 30 Roma tomatoes, 2 large red onions diced, 6 cloves garlic finely diced, about a handful or so of parsley (flat leaf) and the same amount of cilantro, the juice of 4 limes, 1/2 small can of chopped chiles – sea salt, pepper and coriander to taste. After I blend it all together, I usually put in fridge to marry tastes for a couple hours. I’ve been freezing this recipe but would like to can – more for convenience than anything else. Thanks!

  • Kathy

    Hi Damsel, you happened to get two Kathy’s in a row… lol the latter was not involved with my question about the older pressure canner/cooker.. Yes, it has the dial so I cooked the quart size jars at 10 lbs of pressure (after 10 minutes of steam flowing through the flip) for 30 minutes. THANK YOU!! I think I probably would have done it wrong without your help. Thank you so much, my salsa tasted great beforehand but I sure have a lot of water in the finished product. I’ve done this before so I know once the heat wears off, I can shake it up but is there a way to get rid of most of the water a tomatoe has? I’ve heard of people boiling it down? thank you soooo much, LOVE this site..

  • Lila

    Someone gave me a recipe for canning salsa in a Pressure Cooker. I was told to turn off stove as soon as it jiggled. I removed the canner. They all sealed. My question is after reading alot of your information is did I use the right gauge? I used 5# because my book said 5 for tomatoes. I’m worried if they cooked enough.

    • damsel

      oh man, it’s hard to say. If your recipe is heavily tomatoes, it may be okay, but there are a lot of factors…your altitude, etc. The fact that they sealed is not enough when you are canning low acid things like green peppers and onions. Do you have room to stick them in your freezer just to make sure?

  • Dan

    Don’t blanch the peppers and tomatoes. Instead get a weed burner from your hardware store – these things put out around 75,000 btu. Put the peppers and tomatoes in a metal basket and “burn” the skins off with the weed burner. The weed burner does this so fast that the fruit doesn’t cook at all. The weed burner is probably one of my favorite kitchen tools. :-)

  • TinaK

    FYI, if there’s an extension office in your area, they have information about canning and food preservation. They can also test your pressure canner to be sure the seal and gauge are working properly.

  • http://www.bestpressurecookerreviews.com/ Martfay Gardner

    Thanks for the information. They can be pressure cooked and contain a special filter which supplies the needed fresh air.

  • Aleah Nelson

    This is what I have been looking for! THank you!

  • BME1955

    How long will salsa sealed like this keep before it goes bad?

    • Anonymous

      If the seal is undisturbed and the jar is kept in a cool, dark place, it will keep several years. I’d use it within 5 for the best flavor, but it should be fine as far as safety for much longer.

  • Cathy

    I would like to know time for raw salsa after the 10 min of steaming

  • Kvkeller2006

    I have a pet, but  mine is silver.  Did you paint your pet?  Or did it come that way?

    • Anonymous

      er, uh, mine is also silver. I’m not a great photographer, obviously! LOL. Hope you liked your visit to the Old School.

      • Kvkeller2006

        nah, I am looking at this on a very old monitor. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/lifeofmessiah Jerry Purvis

    Thanks for this.  I just made my own salsa today and canned it for the very first time.  The instructions said to boil it instead of pressure canning it, but I used my instincts and canned it.  I pressure canned it for 35 minutes though, on a 10 pounds, based on the length of time for the peppers and onions recommended time.  Will this ruin the salsa at all?

    • Anonymous

      Jerry, I hope this gets to you since there is no return email listed. This sounds like a safe, reasonable processing time to me. It’s pretty much exactly what I would have done. Hope you love it!

  • Jason Wickersham

    Hey, just wanted to say that I looked up
    “canning salsa” and this popped up.
    Great read and I am currently preparing a batch of tomatillo jalapeño
    Salsa that shall be a trial run before a fishing retreat.

    Also planning to raid my mom’s pressure cooker if the recipie turns out well to
    Can previously mentioned salsa for said fishing retreat!

    • Anonymous

      sounds great! Let me know if you try it.

      Margot (The Damsel)

  • Angeliques Creations

    I like your canning process. My questions are…so you do not have to put in lemon juice or vinegar to preserve? How long before going bad after canning?

  • Angeliques Creations

    I was reading through the past comments, I too do not bring my salsa to a boil. I actually broil my ingredients tomatoes, garlic, peppers then add cilantro, green onions, sea salt and black pepper and also add a can of tomatoes and puree. Then I jar. Didn’t have pressure canner as times i just boil in a pot for 35 minutes. Any positive criticism is appreciated?

    • thedamselindisdress

      I realize that people have been doing it this way for years but strictly speaking, when you have non-acid ingredients like peppers and onions, you should pressure can it. My state extension office has published salsa recipes that can be used in a boiling water bath canner, but they are pretty adamant that the recipe has to be followed exactly. If a person doesn’t maintain a high enough percentage of tomato vs. other veggies, it might not have a high enough acid content to be safe.
      So I’m not sure what I should tell you. I know people have been fine doing this for so long, but I can’t guarantee it is safe.
      Margot (The Damsel)

  • Berttula

    I am processing my own recipe, how long and what presure # should I be useing for 1/2 pint, pint, and quart size jars, please help

    • thedamselindisdress

      lf it were me, I’d process a minimum of 15 minutes for 1/2 pint and pint, and 30 minutes for quart size, at 10# pressure. BUT since elevation, etc. is a factor, the very safest way would be to call your local extension office and ask their opinion. Happy Salsa!

      Margot (The Damsel)

  • Mary

    I am so thrilled that finally someone else prefers the old fashioned method of using the pressure cooker/canner for preserving salsa/chili sauce! The grinder of my grandmothers works great and does not leave a mushy product like your food processors can if you over process the product. The simplicity of doing it the old fashion way is how I was taught,  and for that I thank my grandmother!   Nice article. Thanks! 

    • thedamselindisdress

      Yay! Thanks for the comment. You and I think alike!
      Margot (The Damsel)

  • Wreese76

    Thanks for posting this! I was so disappointed that I was going to have to strictly follow a specific salsa recipe to safely can it. I’m more of a wing it kind of girl and like to do my own thing. So I was thrilled to read that I can if I pressure can instead of water bathe it. Thank you! I’m excited about canning some salsa again!

    • thedamselindisdress

      Yay! Have fun. Make sure to lay in a supply of chips. :)
      Margot (The Damsel)

  • Land of Cheese Lady

    I pressured canned 10 pints of tomato based salsa. Since the recipes I kept seeing in canning books and sites did not sound good—being a bit of a rebel, I made my own using ingredients I would use in a fresh salsa.

    Ingredients were:

    Tomatoes with some juice, chopped onions, chopped parsley,
    chopped garlic, a nice variety of hot and mild peppers, salt, bit of sugar, bit of
    lime juice and ascorbic acid. I cooked all ingredients and stirred it for about 15 minutes then
    ladled into clean hot jars and used clean hot lids and rings.

    Long story short—I did not want to use recommended vinegar
    or lemon juice in the recipe–sounded like it would not be to our liking.

    Most every
    recipe called for water bathing—then I seen in the Ball canning book a recipe
    for stewed tomatoes—so close to the salsa I made (except for celery), I felt comfortable pressure
    canning my salsa using 10lb weight for 15 minutes. (BTW—the finished product looks
    and sloshes just like crushed stewed tomatoes—maybe a bit thicker but so very

    Now, reading various forums, it says the vinegar or bottled
    lemon/lime juice is a must.

    Should I redo this batch or put it in the freezer until
    ready to use? I do not want to kill my family or make us sick.

    • thedamselindisdress

      In my opinion, this is fine…but I offer that as an opinion only. The way I understand it is the addition of vinegar/lemon juice is a must if you are doing water-bath, to make sure the acid content is high enough to be safe. If pressure canning, you don’t need to be concerned with acid content. For example, you can bottle meat, or corn, or other foods that don’t have a speck of acid in them, because of the pressure canning process.
      Just my take.
      Margot (The Damsel)

  • Kate

    Thank you for the tip about the old school food grinder! After spending six hours chopping tomatoes for my salsa and spaghetti sauce last summer, I was going to buy one of those $100 food processors. My husband picked up a food grinder at an estate sale months ago, and I had no idea what to do with it until now. I tried it on a few tomatoes this morning (just slicing in half, without removing the skins first) and it was absolutely perfect. You just saved me $100!

  • melissa

    OOOH I have one of those grinders! I found it at goodwill and knew it was some kind of grinder, either meat or grain. But wasn’t sure..but this is a great simple receipe…I have looked over several and some seem to complicated or have things I don’t have.

    • thedamselindisdress

      Yay! Let me know if you try it!
      Margot (The Damsel)

  • Rebeka

    Could you tell me the description on the grinder along with the grinder blade you use for your salsa?

    • thedamselindisdress

      Here is a better picture:

      Does that help? Let me know…
      Margot (The Damsel)

  • Robin

    My problem is I have no idea what the processing time is. Can you immediately give me some idea since they are cooking right now?

  • steven

    I would like to start canning my wife’s awesome salsa. She is originally from mexico and her recipe goes like this… She boils tomatillos and jalapeno peppers, cuts up cilantro, and blends it in a processor. It’s a soupy mixture but has a decent texture after refridgeration. I look up a cook table and it said 35min for pint of jalapenos and 10min for tomatoes? I’m at sea level… what process time and psi should I be using to pressure cook this stuff? Thanks!

    • thedamselindisdress

      The rule of thumb is to process for whatever vegetable takes the longest time. So if jalapenos alone have the longest process time of all the ingredients, then use that. 35 min. at 15 pounds pressure, I would guess. Be sure to look up tomatillos vs. tomatoes as I would assume tomatillos are less acidic than tomatoes. You don’t need to calculate for the cilantro.
      Hope that makes sense! Let me know if you have more questions.

      Sounds delicious!
      Margot (The Damsel)

  • mary

    i make a fresh mex salsa we all love, everything is fresh….tomatoes,jalapeno cilantro onions, etc. I only saw heating and peeling tomatoes, I want to just chop them fresh, how do I can them in my pressure canner to keep the fresh taste?

    • thedamselindisdress

      Hi Mary,

  • damselindisdress

    You have one of these babies? Lucky you! Try it and let me know what you think. I love, love, love the perfect little dices…see how it works for you. I know there are different little cutting thingies that fit on, so I guess it depends on which you have.

  • damselindisdress

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! Let me know how it comes out.

  • damselindisdress

    Oh, I was hoping someone would know where these could be bought. Are they still being made, or are these old ones being sold?

  • Bob Brown

    What I’ve found on eBay are old machines… 60 to 100 years old! But hey… they’re made of cast iron, literally.

    If you buy one that’s rusty, try cleaning with Barkeeper’s Friend, which is mostly oxalic acid, and will reduce the rust stains. If that fails, try Naval Jelly… phosphoric acid. After that, spray with Pam.

  • damselindisdress


  • damselindisdress

    Can you describe it a bit more? On the inside glass, above the salsa?

  • damselindisdress

    I don’t believe I’ve had exactly that, but if you’ve followed the canning instructions, the white stuff shouldn’t be dangerous or anything. If it looks gross, I’d just wipe it out of the top of the jar with a paper towel and proceed to the chip-eating stage, if the remaining salsa looks and tastes normal.

    Keep in mind that with canned tomatoes, the big concern is botulism. Proper canning methods kill that, and besides, it’s odorless and tasteless, so your white stuff doesn’t sound like botulism. It’s probably just a food residue.

    Did the white stuff appear immediately after canning? Or did you do these jars a while back? You can send me a picture if you’d like.

  • Bob Brown

    It turns out that Universal is still in business and still making hand-cranked grinders. One source is Goodman’s: http://www.goodmans.net/get_dept_625.htm There are probably many others.

    (It still looks to me like one is better off with the 1909 model than the 2009 model, but I could be very wrong.)

  • damselindisdress

    Hi! Thanks for stopping by my site. I found it a little confusing coming up with a processing time since I made up my own recipe. 15 min. at 10 pounds pressure is probably ok for pints and half-pints, but it depends on your elevation. I just did quarts last night and processed for 30 min. to be on the safe side.

    It also depends on your salsa…if it is like 80-90% tomatoes, these times should be okay but if you have a lot of peppers and onions…more than 10-20% of the total…I’d go longer.

  • damselindisdress

    Perfect! Thanks!

  • damselindisdress

    Mary…I just received this reply I thought you might like to read:

    Hi! I stumbled on your website looking for pressure canning salsa information and saw Marchia’s question about the white stuff. The Ohio State University Extension office has wonderful information on canning and here is their answer to the question:
    “What causes the deposit around the top surface of some tomato products?
    A white crystalline deposit of calcium acetate may form in highly acidic tomato products, such as chili sauce, ketchup, or salsa. Reactions between the acid (acetic acid) in the food and a component (calcium carbonate in some brands of lids) form calcium acetate. The crystalline deposit is not harmful. When opening the jar, remove and discard crystals.”

  • damselindisdress

    great info on the grinders…thanks again, Bob. Glad to see they are still being made. Love my old school one though!

  • damselindisdress

    I’ve heated mine because I’m under the impression that cooked salsa takes up less room than raw. But it is perfectly safe to pressure raw salsa, since it is going to get completely hot, hot, hot while it pressures. I think it’s possible that raw packing will result in a less-filled jar, but ya know, I’ve never tested that notion.

    So to get right down to your question, yes, it’s ok to raw pack when pressure canning.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  • damselindisdress

    A pressure cooker is the same as a pressure canner…the ones called “canners” are usually taller but if the jars fit inside, then you’re good.

    As for the petcock…is there a dial gauge or some other way of determining how many pounds pressure you have? This is the critical part.

  • damselindisdress

    You’re right about the poison…for waterbath canning. If you pressure can, you don’t have to worry. But, let me know about that petcock thing, because if you can’t tell what pressure you are at, I wouldn’t do it.

  • damselindisdress

    Yay! I’m glad it worked.

    As for getting rid of water, yes, you can boil it down, but it takes a long, long time. One way to get at least some water out is to let the tomatoes sit in a bowl for a while, after you’ve blanched them. Water seeps out, which you can then pour off. Also, read the post here about freezing tomatoes. A lot of water comes off them that way, too. Let me know if that makes sense.