Canning salsa verde is the perfect way to preserve a bumper crop of tomatillos. Pull a jar out of the pantry for a tasty dip, use it as a tomatillo enchilada sauce, or add a jar to a hearty winter pork stew. No matter how you use it, home-canned tomatillo sauce adds amazing flavor to dishes all year long.
Tomatillos are one of those garden vegetables that even brown thumb gardeners just can’t seem to kill. They’re known to produce 10 lbs or more per plant, meaning you’ll need to preserve most of your yields to keep them from spoiling before you can get to them.
The first year we planted tomatillos, the rest of our garden failed and we let the plot go to the weeds. It was actually a hayfield before we tilled it under, so back to hayfield it went. Later that year, we were out walking in the high grass and we felt a crunch under our feet. Low and behold, a hearty crop of tomatillos waiting for us under chest high grass.
We harvested 40 lbs of tomatillos from 8 plants completely untended and buried in the grass!
Since that first year, we’ve had volunteer tomatillo plants pop up in the garden, on the lawn and around the edge of the driveway every single year.
Those volunteer plants produce many pounds of fruit, even growing unwatered and unfertilized from gravel soil. If there was ever a plant for post-apocalyptic gardening, this is it!
More than once I’ve been given a trash bag full from neighbors or friends that wanted to try growing them but didn’t know what they were getting themselves into.
What is Salsa Verde?
Green sauce (Salsa Verde) is a spicy sauce traditionally made with tomatillos, onions and lime juice. The lime juice is added both for flavor, and to increase the acidity so that this recipe can be water bath canned. Chili peppers, cilantro, and cumin provide the dominant flavors.
Try slow cooking a pork shoulder in the crockpot covered in salsa verde, or make a quick weeknight batch of green sauce enchiladas.
Tomatillo Sauce Recipe Variations
I’ve had a number of people send me notes with questions about changing this recipe, and how it would affect canning safety. While it’s possible to change any canning recipe if you know the principles of safe canning, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you really understand what’s going on with the food chemistry.
It’s important to note that while tomatillos are acidic enough for water bath canning, the other ingredients in this recipe are not. Both onions and peppers are low acid foods, and they require the lime juice in this recipe for safe water bath canning.
You can substitute citric acid dissolved in water for the lime juice, but you’d have to use quite a bit. One teaspoon of citric acid is equal to 1/4 cup citrus juice, so you’d need to add at least 4 teaspoons to this recipe.
If you’re really set on making this sauce without lime juice or another acid, for whatever reason, the salsa verde must be pressure canned. I couldn’t say how long, since there’s no tested recipe for pressure canning tomatillo sauce, but I’d go with the instructions for pressure canning onions which require 40 minutes at 10 pounds pressure (under 1000 feet in elevation).
We can whole tomatillos for winter pork stews, but you could make a simple tomatillo sauce by just canning pureed tomatillos instead. If you omit the low acid ingredients (onions, garlic, chili, and spices) it’s possible to just can tomatillo puree with a water bath canner with no other ingredients. Follow the instructions for canning whole tomatillos, which are water bath processing for 40 minutes (pints) or 45 minutes (quarts), adjusting for altitude.
That said, in my opinion, it just wouldn’t be as good! I’ve been using this recipe for years and it’s really good as it is. The lime juice adds wonderful flavor to the finished salsa verde, and the onions and peppers are essential as well, in my opinion.
- 10 lbs tomatillos, husked & chopped
- 4-5 large onions, finely chopped
- 1/2 to 1 cup chili peppers, chopped (hot or mild varieties, your choice)
- 2 full garlic bulbs, peeled & chopped
- 1 cup cilantro, minced
- 1 cup lime juice
- 1 Tbs. ground cumin
- 1 to 2 Tbs. salt (to taste, start with 1 and taste before adding more)
1. Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to a simmer on the stove. Simmer for 40 minutes to an hour to allow the tomatillos to break down and flavors to meld. Taste and adjust salt accordingly.
2. Ladle sauce into prepared pint mason jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace, and process in a water bath canner for 15 minutes. (20 minutes for quarts)
3. Remove from the canner and allow to cool at room temperature before checking seals to make sure all jars have properly sealed. Place any unsealed jars in the refrigerator for immediate use.
*Cook's Note: For a smooth sauce, process all ingredients in a food processor and reduce stovetop cooking time to simmer for 20 minutes before canning. This will save you a lot of time chopping, but won't work if you're hoping for a chunkier sauce.
Other Easy Water Bath Canning Recipes
Looking for more easy canning recipes? Look no further…
- Canning Oranges
- Canning Peaches
- Classic Dill Pickles Canning Recipe
- Old Fashioned Grape Jam
- Canning Lemon Curd
- Canning Apple Pie Filling
- Pickled Peppers
And if you want to keep all the heat and steam out of your house, consider setting up an outdoor canning kitchen!