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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cooking & Canning: Salsa Verde (green sauce)


This recipe comes from a family friend. She and her Hispanic husband operate an authentic Mexican restaurant. This is their delicious recipe for authentic Mexican Salsa Verde (green sauce).

Salsa Verde Recipe:
Tomatillos (green husk Mexican tomatoes)

(This recipe is not exact. You can vary it depending upon how many tomatillos you have on hand. I recommend growing your own. They are incredibly easy and rewarding to grow! No bugs or animals bother them because they are enclosed in a husk!)

(You can tell when tomatillos are ready to pick when the husk has filled in and the bottom has started to open, as pictured above.)

Remove the husk and wash tomatillos. Put all into a large stock pot. Next wash and stem your jalapenos and toss them in whole. How many? This depends upon how spicy you want the salsa verde to be. To create a more mild salsa, try this proportion: 1 jalapeno for every 6 tomatillos. Want it hotter? Simply add more jalapenos. You can also add more jalapenos at the end of the cooking, so don't feel the need to add them all now.

Next, add a bit of water. Just enough to cover the bottom of the pot with a couple inches of water so the tomatillos don't stick and burn. Cook the jalapenos and tomatillos until the tomatillos are soft.

Then we puree the mixture. You can use a food processor, blender, or my favorite tool - a stick immersion blender. Blend until smooth. If you need more water to help it blend, add a little bit at a time. Don't overdo the water or your salsa will be very thin.

Next, add the garlic (try 1 clove per 6 tomatillos or so - again, it's up to you). Then add some onion. Perhaps a quarter of an onion for every 6 tomatillos. Lastly, add some cilantro. Everything in this recipe came from my garden. Since cilantro is ready months before the tomatillos, I freeze mine in cubes (a link to my tutorial). Here is where I pull out my frozen cilantro and put it to use.

Now, pull out your blender and puree it all again.

Lastly, salt to taste. While you're tasting it... is it spicy enough? If you want it hotter, just add more jalapenos and keep pureeing.

That's it!

Now, you can enjoy this fresh or take it one step further and can it.

Don't know how to can? That's okay, I'll show you!

To can the salsa, you'll need:

Quart or pint- sized canning jars
Screw bands
Seals (lids) - you'll need to buy new ones (everything else can be used over)
Water bath canner (if you don't have one you can use a stock pot with a towel in the bottom of the water)
Paper towel

Wash your jars with hot soapy water and rinse well.

When canning, you want everything to be clean, hot, and sterile. So, I keep the canning jars (upside down), lids, and bands hot in a pan filled with an inch of boiling (simmering) water.

Bring the salsa up to a boil and keep it simmering during the canning process.

Take one of the jars from the pan. Turn it right side up. I use a canning funnel to help direct all the sauce into the jar. Fill the jar up, leaving about 1/2 inch headspace. (Headspace means how much room is left from the top rim of the jar to where the food is. If you have the jar filled too high, it may expand and burst the seal. If it's not full enough, it may not seal either.)

After the jar is filled, wipe the rim off with a paper towel. You want to make sure there is no food on the top of the rim, as this will prevent it from sealing.

Next, take a hot seal from the pan. Place it on top of the jar.

Then, take a hot band from the pan. Screw it on tightly.

Once you have enough jars ready to fill your water bath canner (mine holds 7), place them in.

Your water bath canner should already be boiling. Put the jars into the boiling water (the water should cover the tops by an inch), put the lid on, and let them boil for 20 minutes. This kills any bacteria that may be present inside.

After 20 minutes, remove the jars from the water bath. You can buy a neat tool - canning tongs - used to grab the jars out of the boiling water.

Let them cool. Then label them (I simply write with permanent marker on the top of the seal). Write the contents and date.

These will be fine to use for a few years!

Next... if the ingredients came from your own garden, you're not finished! Repeat until you're out of tomatillos & jalapenos. Then take a minute ... wondering why you do this every year. Until January, when you are enjoying all the summer-canned food - then you remember why!

Note: All foods are canned differently. Always consult a canning cookbook for recipes, how-to, and water bath timing. Some foods (fresh vegetables) require pressure canning. It is worth a few dollars (or cents - check garage sales) to buy a canning cookbook to have on hand. Happy canning!



  1. I can using a water bath canner. I am thinking about getting a pressure canner this fall for use next year, but I've never used one - have you?

  2. I have used a pressure canner. They're only needed for low acid foods like green beans, corn, etc.
    Since I prefer to freeze those vegetables, I don't use the pressure canner much.

  3. Just wondering if the salsa verde should be pressure canned since the acidity of the tomatillos is so low and there isn't any added lime juice or vinegar in the recipe. I have 10 million tomatillos and every kind of pepper imaginable in my garden, plus all of my own onions, garlic and cilantro, so I'm fiddling around with recipes. Thanks for yours, I'm just thinking it needs to be pressure canned. Great time of year, eh? So much to harvest and put up for the winter.

  4. Forgot to mention that I do pressure can my own diced green chilies that have first been roasted on the grill, peeled and diced. Pressure can at 11 lbs. pressure for 35 minutes. Delicious!

  5. Check this out, good info on adding acidity to home canned tomatillos:

  6. I have never tried tomatillos. I'll go make one soon. Thanks for sharing. If you get the chance, check out more ways of canning salsa over at my site.

  7. I'm going to try this tonight. Nice blog!

  8. My wife and I own the Texifornia Tamale Company and we LOVE salsa verde. This recipe is a simple and true version, but I have a couple of suggestions that might make it even better.

    When we boil our tomatillos, we typically use chicken stock instead of water, or, alternatively, mixed with water (we typically level the liquid to about half the height of the tomatillos, much of which cooks off as the tomatillos simmer). If you are making a large batch, a mixture of stock and water might be more economical while still providing the flavor from the stock.

    Our new favorite, however, has to be roasting the tomatillos prior to incorporating them into the liquid. This takes some experimentation, but the results are outstanding.

  9. Thank you so much for this recipe. I had a hard time finding a salsa verde recipe I could can. I just posted this recipe in a recipe format for readability and am referring everyone back to your post (especially for canning instructions)!! Thanks again!

  10. We roast everything that goes into our salsa verde. Roasting changes the flavor of the tomatillos for the better. After the peppers are roasted, I peel them. Then I fill up the blender about 3/4 with roasted tomatillos, 2-3 jalapenos, a couple of anaheims, 2-3 cloves roasted garlic, 1/4 roasted onion, then a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of cumin. Blend it up and it's done.

  11. I'm wondering, can a person use green tomatoes for the tomatillos? I planted both, but I have lots of green tomatoes NOW and I'm wondering whether my tomatillos are going to fill in by the time the gardening is done up here in Washington state. My tomatillos are actually the purple ones. Maybe I bought the wrong ones for WA state?

  12. Fantastic recipe! I just made it using my garden green chilis, and half tomatillos with half leftover green tomatoes. Turned out incredible, the green tomatoes gave it a little extra zing. my husband says it's the best he's had since Mexico. Thank you thank you!

    Off to make burritos to put it on...