It’s Homemade Salsa Time

July 19, 2010(updated on October 3, 2018)

makin' salsa

Each year, right around mid-July, I experience an interesting shift in perception. Fresh, local tomatoes go from being a precious commodity, good for little more than slicing, salting and eating, to something just a bit more mundane. I don’t feel the same pressure to focus on every tomato-y bite. I am suddenly free to transform them, to stuff them with spicy couscous concoctions or roast them for soup. I do so adore being rich in tomatoes.

Friday night, I returned home around 7:30 p.m., after two deliciously strong drinks with the Philly-based half of Doris and Jilly Cook. Hungry, but not inclined towards an organized meal (and with no one else to feed), I decided to turn the three remaining tomatoes I had from the previous week’s farmers’ market excursion into a quick batch of salsa.

homemade salsa fresca

I’ve taken to building quickly chopped half-salads like this straight into jars (saves on washing a bowl). I top a quart jar with a wide mouth funnel and drop the ingredients in as I chop. This jar received layers of cubed tomatoes, half a finely minced onion, 2 cloves of quickly crushed garlic, a roughly chopped handful of wispy cilantro (I got a huge bundle in my CSA share this week, I’m planning to make this soup with the rest), a minced pickled jalapeno (if you pickle them, then you always have them around for salsa emergencies), salt, pepper and the juice of one lime.

Once all the ingredients are in the jar, I cap it (tightly) and give a good shake. If the contents resist incorporation, just let it sit for five minutes and try again. You do need to leave the top third of the jar empty for the shaking to work. If you’ve filled it to a brim, you’ll need to enlist the aid of a wooden spoon. It’s good to eat after fifteen minutes of mellowing (although it gets even better overnight).

I like to eat it with crisp tortilla chips (who wouldn’t!) or just with a soup spoon, like a spicy, Mexican-inspired gazpacho. It’s good heaped on scrambled eggs and has the power to lift spirits and brighten days. Just make sure to store any leftovers in the fridge.

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Just a note about salsas like this. They are not cannable. Sadly, it’s impossible to capture the flavors of fresh salsas with our existing preservation techniques. However, there are a number of cooked salsa recipes out there that are appropriate for canning. Do a little searching and make sure to find a tested recipe that’s safe for processing and storage. You’ll find that many of them are quite delicious!

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23 thoughts on "It’s Homemade Salsa Time"

  • What a great tip about the jalapenos, I’ll have to add them to my must-can list this year, Adam will be thrilled. I made six pints of the “Spicy Tomato Salsa” – the one that uses dried peppers, there are four or five salsa recipes – from the BBB last year, and they were gone by the beginning of November. I’ve got way more than one batch on the docket for this summer.

  • Adrienne, the pickled jalapenos are a fantastic pantry item. They are good in so much and are so easy to make (wash and trim the peppers, pack them into a jar, top with a basic vinegar-based brine and process for a quick 10 minutes in a hot water bath). Just so you know, you can also freeze hot peppers. Pop ’em into a zip-top bag and freeze. Chop them frozen and use as you typically would.

  • aha – I was going to ask about pickling the jalapenos. Our lone hot pepper bush is going crazy this year. Last year I froze them, but pickling them sounds so good to me.
    Great tip for the chopped salad too – thank you.

  • I love fresh salsas and I like how you just give everything a good shake. I’ll have to try that. soon!

  • I’ve been adding 1/4 cup of whey and letting mine ferment on the counter for 2 days, and we are lovin’ it! The whey adds lots of good stuff, and gives the salsa a bit of a tingle. It’s what’s for supper tonight….white chicken chili spread with homemade salsa and tortilla chips. Perfect for these hot summer days.

  • This is such a great idea! Our tomatoes are just starting to ripen, we’ve got lots of hot peppers and we’ve got cilantro in the garden too, so I will be doing this very soon!

  • I have friends who make lacto-fermented salsa by using whey as a preservative. It’s supposed to be quite tasty.

  • Hey Marisa, love the post on homemade salsa. I’ve decided to devote my entire LIFE to salsa, so much respect for your homemade style. Well, kind of to salsa I should say. More to the salsa world and its general improvement. By that I mean the Salsabol, which puts an end to the brutal spilling of salsa. Check it out! It’s cheap, it’s fun, and it works especially well with super chunky homemade salsa like yours, which I’m dyin to try.

  • Yummy that sounds delicious! I like your suggestion about the pickled jalepenos, not something I’ve ever tried before. I noticed a few questions about your metal funnel. Mine came from our local Westlake Hardware Store and I love it!

  • I too get very happy with all the salsa possibilities this time of year. Last year I played around with freezing this kind of fresh salsa (just in freezable small containers) and it worked very well. Just thawed out before use, a good shake, and it was revived.

  • So many practical tips, especially the funnel-in-jar one.Thanks!
    I can imagine how vibrant these flavors must be. Three cheers for summer!

  • My favorite pickle is really different. You make pickles using dehydrated cucumbers or even zucchini. I love to warm up the ingredients an open a jar of vacuumed sealed cucumbers and pour it over. You can start eating the previously dehydrated cucumbers in about 15 min. Of couse the longer they sit the better they taste. They are really crunchy and soooo yummy.

  • I just found your blog through zoey at and I’m totally loving it. I’m a pickle fanatic and have my first ever dill pickles brining away right now. Very exciting (going to try your dill and garlic pickles next). I’ve got a similar salsa up my sleeve for this week. Their destination: breakfast tacos.

  • I have been reading your blog for months now. You have given me a lot of new ideas on expanding my canning practices. Most of my recipes are traditional Serbian fare, passed on by my mother and grandmother, but I want to try different approaches. And your advice helped a lot.
    When I had a garden in Cleveland, I preserved more, but now, in Southern California the need is not that pressing. I still do it, but on much smaller scale.
    I am going to try your version of fresh salsa. All that shaking makes perfect sense: the vegetables bruise, release their juices, and everything melds beautifully.
    Greetings from California!

  • I have tried several canned salsa recipes in the past, and unfortunately they have all been too “watery” after canning to suit my taste. Anyone have any suggestions for a good “full bodied” canned salsa recipe? Many thanks, Judy

  • Hi Marisa, I was looking for a new lacto fermented peach salsa recipe and I googled and found your lovely site! I have been home canning and lacto perserving for years! I am now following your blog with RSS. You might also like to stop by our Two for Tuesday Recipe Blog hop to link up because we have lots of real food followers in the mix! 🙂 Alex@amoderatelife

  • Before I downsized to a smaller home I had a large “Food Room” in the basement, freezer and cabinest galore, now I just have a small bedroom closet that I use as my “canning closet” and I’m happy to have that.Ginny