Back when this blog was a wee fledgling, just finding its feet, I posted a recipe for oven roasted tomatillo salsa. It was one I learned to make by watching a woman named Teresa (for a handful of months, we were co-workers of sorts). Most of the time, when I find myself in possession of a small amount of tomatillos, I make some variation on this salsa and remember those days when I was fresh out of college and still trying to figure out what the heck I was going to do with myself.
The one problem with that first recipe was that it wasn’t designed for canning. I’ve gotten more emails than I can count over the years, asking me whether it could be canned and I always had to say no. However, it feels like a hole not to have a recipe on this site for a water bath safe tomatillo salsa (happily, there’s one in the cookbook, so I’ve not entirely neglected my duties).
When I found myself in the kitchen with a pound and a half of tomatillos earlier today, I determined that it was the perfect moment to come up with a very small batch of water bath safe tomatillo salsa. I used the tomatillo salsa recipe on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website as a starting point and then adapted.
In the end, I essentially divided the recipe by five and omitted a few low acid ingredients. I skipped the green chiles and hot peppers with a single jalapeño that had been sitting in the fruit basket so long that it had turned red. I increased the volume of tomatillos a little to replace the missing chiles. I added a tablespoon of minced cilantro. And I kept the levels of additional acid constant.
For those of you who feel uncomfortable with me altering a tested tomatillo recipe in this manner, I point you in the direction of this abstract. It details pH testing of tomatillos and reveals that their pH was found to be consistently below 4.1. That is well below the cut-off of 4.6 pH. What’s more, that study also found that pH levels remained in the safe zone when tomatillos and onions were combined and at least 50% of the volume of the jar consisted of tomatillos.
After roasting the tomatillos, I had approximately 1 3/4 cups of pulp. To make this salsa, I combined that acidic tomatillo pulp with approximately 3/4 cup of low acid ingredients (onions, garlic, cilantro, 1 jalapeno, and a little ground cumin) and the acidified with three tablespoons of bottled lime juice (my starting recipe used 1 cup and yielded 5 pints. My recipe was appearing to yield about 1 pint. There are 16 tablespoons in a cup, so I divided that by 5 to arrive at 3 tablespoons). My single pint of yield was more than 50% tomatillos by volume and contains a great deal of additional acid.
The combination of the tomatillo concentration and the added acid makes me feel entirely comfortable processing this salsa in a boiling water bath. However, the recipe makes just a pint (with a few spoonfuls leftover for immediate eating). If you’d prefer, you can always just pop it in the fridge and eat it up over the course of the next week or two. Up to you.
- 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup minced onion
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons bottled lime juice
- 1 tablespoon minced cilantro
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Remove husks from tomatillos and rinse to remove their natural sticky residue.
- Cut the tomatillos in half and place them face-down on a rimmed roasting pan. Add unpeeled garlic cloves to the pan and place in the oven. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until they release a goodly amount of liquid and the tops are developing light brown spots.
- Remove pan from the oven. Collect the roasted garlic cloves and set aside.
- Scrape the tomatillos and their juice into a blender carafe. Peel the garlic cloves and add them to the blender, along with the onions, jalapeño, lime juice, cilantro, salt, and cumin.
- Blend at a moderate speed, until the tomatillos are broken down and the other ingredients are just integrated (you should still be able to see small specks of green from the cilantro).
- Pour the smooth-ish salsa into a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
- When salsa is pipping hot all the way through, pour it into a prepared pint jar (or two half pints, if you prefer).
- Wipe rims, apply lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes at sea level (adjust your processing time if you live at higher elevations).
- When time is up, remove jar(s) from canner and set on a folded kitchen towel to cool.
- Wait 24 hours and test the seal(s). If the seal(s) are good, jars are shelf stable for up to one year.