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.
Small Batch Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
- 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.
I made your tomatillo salsa recipe from the cookbook the other day and was considering roasting the tomatillos, onions & peppers on my next go round. I also made a tomatillo mango salsa and have been trying to figure out if I could hot water bath can it or not. It seems like I could, but I definitely do not want to chance it.
What I love about tomatillos is that you can pop them in the freezer straight from the garden and pull them out, roast them and go with them at any time.
This looks fabulous. Tomatillo salsa is on my list to try. Is there a ‘season’ for tomatillos? I live about an hour west of Philly (we’re sort of neighbors?) so I know we don’t grow them locally.
Tomatillos are in season right now (they grow during the same season at tomatoes). I’m surprised that no one is growing them out in your area, because the Pennsylvania summer climate is perfect for them.
Marisa, can we just buy a pH meter and stick it in our jars? How is pH tested, and why can’t we do it at home in a safe and effective way?
You can buy a pH meter, but doing the testing is more complicated than just sticking it in your jam. Here’s a blog post that details the steps you take to pH test a product: http://www.leenaeats.com/blog/recipes/leena-cooks/leena-cans-buying-a-ph-meter-and-testing-my-onion-jam/.
I have a pH meter, but am so confident that this recipe is safe that I didn’t feel it necessary to do the testing.
Oooooh my favorite! TOMATILLO SALSA!!!! 😀
I am so glad you posted this. I had a few volunteer tomatillo plants this year, and a bow full of tomatillos just watiting for me. Thanks!
This is good to know. I have another tomatillo recioe I make (and freeze). My concern was if roasting fruits and vegetables altered the pH in any way so I couldn’t count on the numbers. Any ideas before we start fooling around woth ingredients?
I canned my first salsa verde last summer using bunches of tomatoes from the CSA farm share and freshly roasted Hatch chiles from the grocery store down the road. This year, probably due to our cooler, wetter, Ohio summer, the Hatch chiles came earlier than the tomatillos so I put them up in the freezer, and I’m getting smaller amounts of tomatillos about every other week in the share. I’m glad to have a small batch recipe, and excited to try roasting the tomatillos now that it’s cool.
Tomatillos are the Energizer Bunny of my garden. I planted 3 plants and bet I have harvested nearly 30 lbs from them. And they are still going. With this kind of yield from my plants, I have only one thing to say about a recipe for one pint – “ain’t nobody got time for that.” lol I simply went nuts with the recipe on the NCHFP site, but it is good to know some modifications can be made. I will study your ratios and make some adjustments.
Sadly, I have no such tomatillo source, so a single pint is going to have to do it for me. I’m seriously jealous of your three plants, because this salsa is good!
I just bought 2+ pounds of tomatillo’s at my local Mexican market. They were 3#s for .99.
I mix the tomatillo’s with green tomatoes , hot peppers, cilantro and onions. Yummy, but wanted to can some 4oz jars for Christmas baskets. This is good timing! Thanks.
Sadly, tomatillos need two separate plants to pollinate.
Someone should tell that to my massive single tomatillo plant. Covered with blossoms and tomatillos. 😉
Are jalapenos and green chiles the same Ph? I am wondering if I can sub one for the other entirely. My family cannot tolerate the spice of jalapenos but I LOVE tomatillo salsa and I would love to make a mild version.
You really don’t get much spice from a single jalapeño. I don’t know if the two have interchangeable pHs. And I really only used about 1 1/2 teaspoons minced jalapeño, so that wouldn’t give you much green chile.
Yay! This sounds great – my farmers market should still have tomatillos this weekend. In my gut, it seemed that your old recipe would have been safe for canning – I was going to get a ph tester or some litmus paper (because it’s that good). Stil might, but so glad to have this confirmed.
Do you ever pressure-can? I just got a pressure canner this spring and have been LOVING and haven’t used my water-bath at all this summer. I also love all the low-acid stuff I can can in it.
I’ve never thought of preserving tomatillos – even though they grow well around here, no one sells them cheap enough or in bulk enough for me to do more than a batch of salsa for nachos and beans for a week. I have the end of the jar in the fridge right now, waiting for lunch tomorrow!
I do pressure can occasionally. I have the smallest pressure canner you can get, but it totally dwarfs my stove, so I only pull it out for the low acid stuff. So glad you’re loving yours, though!
This sounds good. Can you really freeze fresh tomatillos and roast them later as Becky wrote? What a great idea. I could do the salsa later and still have tomatillos available!
I do need help with another project. I have 8 quarts of ground cherries and no idea what to do with them. I am told they are a relative of the tomatillo. When the husks are removed they will measure near 1/2 of the original-or near 4 quarts. Any suggestions?
I have no idea what ground cherries are, however, these are recipes posted to Punk Domestics:
I have no connection to Punk Domestics, however, I find it a good place from locating preserving recipes since it is comprised of links to a wide variety of other blogs.
Thanks, Mary. I will check that site. Ground cherries are about the size of a cherry, but look like tomatillos. The fruit grows in the same kind of husk as a tomatillo, but they are yellow when ripe. This is my first encounter with them. I got them in the Amish area of Illinois. I guess they are an obscure or forgotten fruit.
Hi, can I do this recipe with green tomatoes? I cannot get tomatillos, but the look of the jar and the green colour are very tempting. Many thanks.
If I’m using a recipe of my own for salsa, I use pH paper and make sure it reads about 3, which means a proton concentration ten fold higher than a pH of 4, to account for possible inaccuracy. It’s not hard to get it to that with lime juice (for a salsa verde) or vinegar (for a salsa brava). That said, I use the method only for thin, pureed salsas.
I usually make salsa verde with green tomatoes. Would that be okay
in this recipe for canning? Here in Maine, green tomatoes are plentiful…
tomatillo’s not so much.
I’ve not tried it, but I know that the National Center for Home Food Preservation does say in some of their tomatillo recipes that you can swap in green tomatoes.
I am always in awe at the amoutn of scientific work that goes into your recipes. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain HOW you determine the safe levels of acidity in your recipes. It gives me much more confidence when producing something to know that it is scientifically backed, and having not canned very much for too many years, I don’t have that type of skill set. Thank you for giving me a jumping off point to start, you are such an inspiration!
I have your cookbook and love it. In fact, I just made some pickled carrots (without daikon) today! This evening I was searching around for blogs about canning (mostly looking for pictures of all the goodness everyone is preserving this time of year) and I stumbled upon your website. I’m so thrilled to see the updates and it is perfect timing for this post on small batch tomatillo salsa as my husband prefers the roasted to raw and I didn’t think I had quite enough in the garden for a big batch. Thanks! I’ll look forward to reading back through your posts and website!
🙂 Hillary in Colorado
I just made my second batch yesterday from home-grown tomatillos. I had never grown them before but they did great (about 5lbs from just 2 plants!). I used a recipe from Rick Bayless for the second batch-a spicy oven-roasted version that I froze. It’s yummy!
I am so glad I found you ; ). I have a very silly question…I am one of those guys in your post who is interested in pickling all on a sudden. I pickled 7 pounds of green tomatoes, however after I got them out of their water bath they didn’t pop. So, I turned them upside down on the table, and then I flipped them over and I was checking the lids (within 5 min – I know I should have just waited longer). As I pressed each lid, they popped and stayed down. I undid the ring and tried to lift up the lid with my fingers and it seemed pretty solid. Am I ok with these 7 pounds of pickles…or am I in a real pickle here : )?
Any good recipe for a green onion pickle as well as a swiss chard stem pickle?
Thanks so much!!!
Made this recipe with my CSA Tomatillos and I love it! The roasting really puts this over and above other salsa verde recipes I’ve seen. Thanks for posting!
I LOVE the tomatillo salsa from your book. I canned a ton of it this summer and I make a half-batch (to eat immediately) every time I see tomatillos. So good!
How much headspace would you suggest leaving?
Half an inch should do it.
Made it yesterday. Got 3 half pints. You say to bring to a boil, heat it through. Do u boil it down? Because have too much for just a pint.
JoAnn, yields vary. I didn’t boil my salsa down, but it could be that yours had more water content than mine.
I like the simplicity of your recipe. I sounds relish. Is it possible to use fresh lime juice and not bottled? I don’t think I will can it if I make a small batch. I have previously read that if you are canning to use bottled though. I don’t think I will this batch though.
If you don’t want to bother with the canning step, feel free to use fresh lime juice. It’s only necessary if you’re going to run it through a boiling water bath.
Just wanted to say I canned FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER last night and made this recipe. I’m so proud of it and happy with the whole process. Can’t wait to taste and share it with my coworkers today for lunch!! Thank you so much for what you do and can’t wait to make more of your recipes! I keep looking at my half pints proudly.
I am so happy to hear that it worked so well for you! 🙂
This works great with green tomatoes for anyone who doesn’t grow Tomatillos. I used a pressure canner, but with all the additional acid, I’m sure water-bath canners work fine, when in doubt, just keep it in the water-bath canner longer, or freeze. Great recipe!!
Do you have to use bottled lime juice? Is there a reason there having to do with more consistent acidity levels or could I use fresh? Thanks!
You do need to use bottled lime juice. Here’s why: https://foodinjars.com/2010/09/canning-101-why-recipes-call-for-bottled-lemon-juice/
the acid in the tomatillos is not as important as the lack of acid in other ingredients, right? like the peppers and onions, garlic and cilantro.
I have your Food In Jars book and am loving it. I’m having a great canning season.
I have tons of tomatillos (3 plants and still picking every few days in October) and would like to make more than one pint. Will the ph be affected if I triple the recipe? I realise I may need to cook the salsa a little longer to evaporate more of the liquid.
Also, do you know the processing time if I can in half-pint jars instead of pint?
The pH won’t be affected at all if you triple the recipe. And the processing time stays the same for half pints.
That was really quick. Thank you. I’ve been looking at other recipes on your website. So many things to try, so little time.
I was canning pints of tomato sauce the other day and had enough for a half-pint as well so ended up processing it for the same time as the pints. Good to know the times don’t change between pint and half-pint.
November 8th, 2014. I did a final garden harvest and got 4lbs of tomatillos that had self sown themselves over the years. I never knew what to do with the surplus tomatillos until I found your recipe. I Doubled the recipe. Now I can have yummy tomatillo salsa over the winter. Thank you!
I foolishly went ahead and did something that was not included in this recipe, and now I am worried I have made unsafe salsa… I added a SMALL amount of oil when I was roasting the peppers and tomatillos. Why I did that? I now could not tell you. So now when i have just opened my first jar, about one month after making it, i noticed this wierd sort of icy look to the top. And then i touched it and realised: that is the oil. There is only a tiny sprinkling on the top layer, but i presume it is in every jar, and my problem is it has seperated so now I”m worried that TINY bit of oil has no acid in it
So…. IS IT RUINED? WOULD you eat it???? I’ve heard if you boil something for 10 minutes you destroy botulism toxins anyway. Is that true??
Goddamn, i made so much of it. :0
thanks for any advice here
As long as it’s a very small amount of oil, it should be okay.
I was so excited to see this recipe – I only have 2 tomatillo plants this year and wasn’t sure what I was going to do with a few here and a few there. Enter this recipe. I just made a batch – that I didn’t process – was probably a bit heavy handed with the cilantro, but I do love it. All ingredients except lime juice, salt, and cumin were from the garden. It is SO delish. I intended to take some as a hostess gift, but I might have to keep it all for us! Easy, quick, tasty, fresh … a great recipe!
So glad that you like it!
hello. I realize this is an older post but I was going to make this today and realized I didn’t know which type of onion to use. I looked through everything and didn’t see an answe to that question. Wasn’t sure if the type of onion would affect the acidity. I have yellow and red, just wasn’t sure which one to use. Any advice, or does it matter?
It does not matter. I’d probably use yellow so that the color doesn’t turn muddy from the red onions, but in this case, it’s just a matter of preference.
I realize this post is quite old and you may not monitor the comments any longer but hoping I might get lucky. Would this still be safe for canning if I omit the onion? Should I add something in place of the onion to keep it safe for canning?
Reading this post hoping to find out the same info as Tammy! How important are onion and garlic to the ph level/safety of this recipe? I would like to omit them from this (and every…) recipe, but am not sure if the safety math works out for canning. Can this be done? Do you have to increase the acid/lime? Thanks for your time!
You can always omit low acid ingredients like onion and garlic without issue. It’s only problematic when you want to add ingredients like those.
I realize this is an old post, but I am hoping you can reply.
Your recipe calls for roasting the tomatillos and the garlic;
Is it okay to roast the onion and jalapeño as well?
Also, is it possible to substitute vinegar for lime juice in this recipe if I happen to be out of lime juice?
Thank you ~
It should be fine to roast the onion and jalapeno as well. I would not swap vinegar in for the lime juice, though. They have different acidities and the change would drastically change the flavor of the finished salsa.
First of all, thanks for your recipes! I’ve enjoyed many over the past few years since I started canning. I’m curious – do you think there would be any food safety problems with scaling this recipe up? I think I’ve seen concerns with multiplying recipes out because it can be tricky to keep everything hot enough (hot jam/salsa into a hot jar into a hot water bath), but for this one, did you just do small batch since that’s what you had on hand?
This is a recipe that you can safely scale up because it don’t rely on evaporation to get the right consistency.
I love this recipe, although I double the cumin and use fresh lime juice. I don’t do the canning part, because it scares me to can, but this salsa is so good, it’s always gone in no time, so I don’t really feel like I have to can it.
I’m so happy you like this recipe. And if you eat it up, there’s absolutely no need to can!