Canned Salsa Verde

Tomatillos are a great thing to grow in a home garden. They’re easy to grow and very, very, very prolific. They produce so much that they often will reseed themselves and “volunteer” for next year’s garden.

In other blog posts, I have shared how to make some fresh tomatillo salsa and how to use them in delicious pork chili verde. This recipe today, salsa verde, is the original reason I grew tomatillos. I wanted to make a tangy green salsa to enjoy all year.

Canned salsas are simple to make, but you need to follow a recipe and can only in pints to be safe. The level of acidity is key, and the reason for canning salsa in pints is that the current USDA guidelines cannot verify that the interior of a quart jar reaches sufficient temperature in the canning process assure safety. I’ve canned many times using quarts, but that is a risk I took. Truth is, a pint of salsa is a decent quantity and will hold up nicely until it’s time to open a new jar.

This recipe takes a lot of tomatillos. There are many varieties of tomatillos available for home growers, so it’s sometimes nice to try different types to see how the salsa varies. There are purple ones, but I have not had much luck growing them in enough volume to make a purple salsa. It would be pretty cool. There is a pineapple flavored tomatillo, and that works well, making a salsa that is excellent with fish and poultry. These days, I look for types that produce a decent site fruit, and ones that are known to be prolific. I can get as many tomatillos as possible in a small garden area. For our beekeeping friends, tomatillo blossoms are a welcome source of bee food in the late summer dearth.

A companion to the tomatillo is the serrano chile. They are about as prolific as tomatillos. The sight of tomatillo and serrano plants in late summer, sagging under the load of ripe fruit, just makes me feel happy. I know that I can pick the plants bare, and in days they will again be loaded. That is salsa verde time!

The recipe here makes about 21 pints, enough to fill the typical water canner three times. You can vary the volume to suit your needs and how much produce you have on hand.

Salsa Verde for canning

10 lb. Tomatillos, husks removed and washed
3.5 lb red and green serrano chilies, minced
3 lb. White onions, minced
2 heads garlic, peeled and minced
1 cup cilantro, minced
1 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1T chipotle powder (see notes below on how to make)
2T coarse sea salt

Put the tomatillos in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Scoop the tomatillos from the hot water using a slotted spoon when just a few spots of uncooked areas remain on them. (Don’t let them cook until mushy, they should just start to lose their shape, but not fall apart.) Puree the tomatillos with a stick blender or in a blender until smooth.

Return the tomatillo puree to the pot and add the chilies, onions, garlic, salt and chipotle powder. Bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add cilantro, and simmer another 5 minutes.

Fill clean pint canning jars with the hot salsa. Seal with lids and rings. Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Note on chipotle powder: I found that a hint of smoke from chipotles works wonders in this salsa. To make this powder, which can be a “secret ingredient” in many dishes, I grow a variety of jalapeno called “Farmer’s Market”.

This one is known for its extreme corking, an effect where the pepper appears almost woody. This pepper takes up smoke like nobody’s business! Smoke them, dry them, and grind to a powder.

Variations on this salsa: You can add any different chilies you like to make this hotter or milder. Habaneros will make it hotter. New Mexico type green chilies or Anaheim types will make it milder. I like it pretty hot, so keep that in mind. This is one of the very popular items I make, so it has a lot of fans as is!

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