Aug 302012

DSC_0279 for blog
Pico de Gallo for Canning

makes 12-14 pints


  • 10 pounds canning tomatoes
  • 1 pound red onion
  • Jalapenos (I use 8 for “medium” and 12 for “hot” salsa), stems removed
  • 2 large Poblano peppers, stems removed
  • 2 large heads of garlic, cloves separated and paper removed and discarded
  • 2 Tablespoons pickling salt
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh ground pepper
  • 4 ounces prepared lime juice


Weigh out your ingredients in advance.  If your tomatoes need a bit of trimming before use, add a few extra ounces (I normally add 4 to 6 ounces) to the scale to accommodate for trimming.  It is important that you use tomatoes specified as “canning” tomatoes for this recipe to ensure that the pH of your salsa is safe for processing without a pressure-canner.  If you are using a variety of garden tomatoes (maybe at the end of the season?)  simply add another 1/4 cup of lime juice or apple cider vinegar to the recipe.

Wash tomatoes.  I often add a little bit of white vinegar to the sink just in case.

Trim and core tomatoes (no need to remove skins if you don’t want to.  I never do for salsa.)  and chop into chunks before adding to your food processor.  Pulse until crushed and diced into small pieces.  It will take three or four fillings of the food processor to go through the ten pounds worth.
Add crushed tomatoes to a large stock pot.
I think peeling the two entire heads of garlic is the most tedious of jobs for this whole recipe. That’s how easy it truly is.
Then, add the peppers, garlic and onions to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Be careful not to take a big whiff when you remove the lid of the food processor, it’ll make you cry and burn your nose at the same time!  Add to the tomatoes in the stock pot, then add the salt, pepper and lime juice.  Stir well and then turn on the heat under your salsa.


Heat until a thermometer inserted in your salsa reads 190 degrees Fahrenheit.
At this time, it is safe to decant the salsa into jars.  Decant into sterilized jars, wipe rims with a damp cloth, then top with a two piece lid, screwing on the top tightly, before inverting onto a red kitchen towel.  Continue with the remaining, inverting as you go.  Allow the jars to remain inverted for a minimum of two minutes (more is okay if you get busy) then, with oven mitts on, quickly turn back over each one onto the towel.  (If you feel you must process them in a boiling water canner go ahead,10 minutes for pints, 15 for quarts, but I never do.)

The heat from the hot salsa, hot jars and hot lids will cause the lids to seal.  Allow the jars to cool overnight before testing the lids seal, remove the rings, label and wipe off any residue on the outside, if needed.

I normally make two (or more) batches of this a year, a medium version and a hot.  With 24+ jars of salsa in the pantry, we’re set for the whole year!


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  15 Responses to “Canning Pico de Gallo style Salsa”

  1. Just wondering what the best variety of “canning” tomatoes is.

    • Hi Sonja!

      Good Question! I prefer to can tomatoes that are higher acid and firm with less water in them so that I don’t have to add any extra acid (like citrus or citric acid) to them before canning and so that I don’t have to pressure can them. My personal favorites include Anna Maria’s Heart (these are big, blocky tomatoes and they can up fast!), San Marzano’s (skinny tomatoes – take more time and effort to can but the flavor is amazing) and Illini Gold’s that I got from Baker Creek a few years ago.

      One page I’ve referred to with a whole bunch of tomato varieties and their acid content is here:

      Hope this helps!


  2. Your last direction says “remove the rings” what rings?

    • Hi Tracey!

      Remove the canning rings from the jars once they’re sealed and cooled.You don’t need them for storage (and it’s best to take them off anyway, so you can wipe around the top of the jar in case there were any spills). Good question!


  3. […] Monday – Crockpot Refried Beans (leftover from John’s Birthday last week) Tostadas with guacamole and homemade salsa […]

  4. Hello,

    Can you tell me what is “prepared lime juice”

    Mary Sue

    • Hi Mary!

      Prepared lime juice is just store-bought lime juice. It has a more stable acidic value than fresh lime juice; a specific pH is important for safe canning. I find one without preservatives at Whole Foods. Hope this helps!


  5. You rock…i am soooo making this!

  6. How much “headspace” do you leave in your jars of salsa? Your recipe sounds very similar to the one my husband uses. He sends it through the food grinder and then I stand watch and stir it in the pot. 🙂 We have always done the hot water bath because “that’s what Mom did” 🙂 but I might try the upside-down method this year. Thank you for your wonderful blog!

  7. thank you, going to have to go to the local farmers market now and ask about the right tomatoes here. Just started canning this year and have made jams but this looks so good. thanks again for the recipe.

  8. Umm, you say doing the boiling water bath if you must but the reason you need to do it is for safety. You don’t want to risk getting botulism!

  9. Why are your jars upside down in the picture? If they are those metal lids they instantly start to corrode and leach. I have had them not last a year.

  10. Hi I am wondering how this is Pico if it is cooked? I love this recipe, I am just curious about the cooked veggies being the same.And would it be better to add cilantro after I open the sealed jar? I love cilantro and I think that is where the flavor comes in that I love!! Thanks so much for sharing!!!

  11. Sarah,
    Do you know how to can fresh salsa without heating it first? My husband makes a fresh pico that is amazing and we have been talking about canning it without heating it too much.


  12. This looks so fresh and delicious.

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