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In this article, I demonstrate making and canning tomatillo salsa. Tomatillo salsa is your typical green salsa (salsa verde). It’s a water bath recipe. I demonstrate canning this in the Nesco Smart Canner, but you can use any canner for this – or even a large pot with a lid. Regardless of the type of canner (or pot) you use, be sure to put a rack on the bottom of the canner before adding the jars.

Note: I got this recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

Tomatillo Salsa Ingredients

  • 5 1/2 cups chopped tomatillos (this is about 8 cups whole tomatillos)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped, seeded green chili peppers
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • 4 cloves chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Prepare the Canner Jars and Lids

This is a hot pack recipe. What that means is that you will be putting hot product (salsa) into hot jars, and using hot water.

The easiest way to do this is to put your jars and lids into a pot of water, and put it on to heat while you’re preparing the salsa. That way you’ll have hot, sterilized jars and lids AND hot water all ready to go.

Note that according to the Ball company, you no longer have to heat up your lids before canning. Some people choose to heat them, and some don’t. It’s up to you. I used a mixture of Ball lids and Harvest Guard reusable lids which definitely need to be heated, so I heated mine.

I heated mine up in my Instant Pot, using the sauté setting, but any pot will do. (Bottom line is to use whatever you have!)

Prepare the Tomatillos

To prepare the tomatillos, you’ll first remove the husks.

Next, cut off and discard any bad spots.

You’ll sometimes see dirt under the husks. It can look pretty nasty, but don’t worry! It’s easy to wash off.

Wash the tomatillos.

Note that tomatillos naturally have kind of a sticky residue on them, and so that’s totally normal.

Cut the tomatillos into halves, and cut out the core. Then dice the tomatillos. (I roughly chopped most of mine in a food processor, and to add a bit of texture, hand diced some of the tomatillos. The recipe doesn’t actually call for using a food processor or a blender, so no worries if you don’t have one. Much of this is a matter of preference, in terms of how chunky you want the salsa to be.

As you’ll see in a minute, you do cook this salsa before canning it, so even the hand diced tomatillos will soften some.

Choosing and Preparing the Peppers

The types of peppers you use depend to a large degree on whether or not you like heat. I used jalapeno peppers, but if you prefer a more mild salsa, you can use poblano or Anaheim peppers.

Also, this recipe called for removing the seeds from the chilies. We like a little bit of heat, so I left the seeds in a couple of the peppers.

When removing the seeds from chili peppers, you want to be careful not to get the pepper juice on your hands. Trust me on this! If you end up rubbing your eyes or mouth after handling hot peppers, you’ll regret it! You can use food prep gloves, or if like me you don’t have any, a plastic sandwich baggie works great. I actually prefer the baggie because after using it to scoop out the seeds and pepper membrane, you can turn it inside out, and throw the baggie with the seeds into the trash.

Add Ingredients to a Large Pot and Simmer

You’ll add all of the prepared ingredients to a large pot and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Reduce the heat and boil gently, stirring frequently for 10 minutes.

Ladle the Salsa into Prepared Jars

Ladle the hot salsa into prepared jars. Now remember, the salsa will be hot, and the jars will also be hot since you’ve had them sitting in simmering water.

I find it helpful to use a canning jar grabber to remove them from the hot water. I put them onto towels on the counter, and as needed, use a pot holder to handle them.

When you ladle the salsa into the jars, leave 1/2″ head space.

Debubble and Wipe the Rims

Once you’ve filled your jars with the hot salsa, debubble them to remove any air pockets.

Then, wipe the rims with a paper towel that has been dipped in vinegar. This helps to remove any residue on the rims, which helps ensure a good seal.

Put on the Lids and Rings

Next, you’ll want to put on the lids and rings, fingertip tight. Note that if you’re using Harvest Guard or Tattler lids, the process is a bit different. You can watch this video for a demonstration of how to use Harvest Guard lids.

Put the Jars into the Canner

Now it’s time to put the jars into your canner. Regardless of the type of canner you use, it’s important to first put a rack on the bottom of the canner and then put your jars on top of the rack.

Add Water and Vinegar to the Canner

Next, you can add a splash of vinegar to the canner. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but especially if like me you live in an area with hard water, the vinegar helps to keep your jars from looking cloudy.

Since this is a hot pack recipe, and you’re working with hot product (salsa), and hot jars, you’ll also want to use hot water.

Since this is a water bath recipe, you need to put in enough water to completely cover the jars by an inch or two.

Process the Salsa for 15 (or more) Minutes (Adjust for Altitude)

Now it’s time to do the actual canning! I used the Nesco Smart canner, so I closed the lid and moved it into the lock position. I then set the valve to the exhaust position.

I then selected the water bath/steam setting.

Note that this recipe calls for 15 minutes processing time, but due to my altitude, I added in 5 minutes, and processed mine for 20 minutes.

Once the salsa finished processing, I opened the lid, and let the jars sit in the canner for about 5 minutes before removing them.

I removed them and put them onto a towel on the table and let them cool completely before checking the lids to make sure they sealed.

I had one jar that didn’t seal, so put that into the fridge and used it right away.

Tip: The flavor of this salsa mellows with age, so as tempted as you may be to eat it right away, it’s important to wait a few weeks for the flavors to mellow.

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Here are some of my favorite canning tools

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful as you strive to stock your pantry with delicious home-canned food! Here are some tools that I use as a canner that I’m hoping you’ll also find helpful. These are affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I’ll earn a commission. Please know that these are the tools that I actually use and recommend and believe in 100%!

Nesco Smart Canner: You can see that many of the posts on my site show me using the Nesco canner. This is by far my favorite canner to use, and because of that, it’s the one that I recommend. Note that the Nesco and Carey Smart Canners are the exact same thing. So, if you go to Amazon and see that Nesco canners are out of stock, but the Carey is available (or cheaper!), then by all means buy a Carey. As long as you have either a Nesco or Carey, you can follow along with what I demonstrate on this blog.

Tattler Reusable Lids: I use both Tattler and Harvest Guard reusable canning lids. They are both American made, made by the same family. I prefer to buy my Tattler lids from Lehman’s, since they are a small, family-owned company. You can get Tattler lids from Lehman’s here, but if you prefer to buy from Amazon, you can get them here.

Metal Canning Lids: I have always been a fan of Ball canning lids. However, due to cheap knock offs on Amazon that claim to be Ball lids, I no longer purchase them from Amazon. You can get them from Lehman’s here. Another solid brand that Lehman’s sells is Superb. They are thicker and seem to have better quality gaskets. Here are the regular mouth lids and here are the wide mouth lids.

Norpo Canning Tools Boxed Set: I love this set of canning tools because it truly includes all the basics that you need, whether you’re water bath or pressure canning. Occasionally I’ve lost one of the items in the set and to replace it, had to buy it separately. It’s definitely more cost effective to buy the entire set.

The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving: This is the first canning book that I purchased, and it’s still the one that I refer to most often. Especially when you’re first learning to can, it’s important to use trusted recipes and instructions that you know are safe. This book provides some great canning recipes to get you started, and also gives a lot of great “how to” canning information. When in doubt, look it up in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving!

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