Why You Should Never Can Your Homemade Salsa Recipe

Nothing says summer like fresh, homegrown tomatoes. Growing a small garden at home is fairly simple, as per the Old Farmer's Almanac and can help you eat a healthier diet. Having fresh produce readily available can help you meet the USDA's Dietary Guidelines of filling half of your plate with vegetables and fruits. But according to Good Housekeeping, having a garden can also reduce stress, provide some exercise, and help you soak up some Vitamin D.

While having a garden provides fresh produce throughout the spring and summer, you can also preserve any excess to have on hand during the off-season. Canning is one way of doing this. If you've got a surplus of heirloom tomatoes, making and canning homemade salsa might seem like a good option. But you need to be careful. The recipe you use is important, as making up your own recipe could be risky. If you have a favorite salsa recipe, leave that for when you make fresh salsa.

Striking the right balance is key

Utah State University Extension says you should never use your own recipe when it comes to canning salsa. Because salsa contains acid and low-acid ingredients, the necessary canning process used is decided by the recipe. Whether you use a boiling water canner or a pressure canner is determined by the ingredients of the salsa and how it's made. So the experts recommend using a tested recipe like from the USDA or National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP).

Per the USDA and NCHFP guide for canning tomato products, it's important to strictly follow the tested recipes, which can also be found in the guide. Changing the number of tomatoes, onions, or peppers in the recipe could make the salsa unsafe to eat. It's important to have the right balance of acid (tomatoes) and low-acid (onions and peppers) ingredients. It is ok to change the amount of spice and to switch out bottled lemon juice for vinegar. But those are the only safe substitutions. So next time you want to preserve your extra tomatoes by canning some salsa, remember to pick a trusted recipe.