Fresh salsa: For your tons of tomatoes


It seems a shame to turn all of your gloriously fresh, just-harvested tomatoes into sauce, doesn’t it?

But then again, there are just so many dinner salads you can eat.

So many tomatoes, so little time to enjoy them…

Here’s an easy way to use at least some of those delicious tomatoes: fresh, homemade salsa. If you’ve got a food processor, it’ll take you about 5 minutes to make a couple of quarts of this.

Without a processor – well, hone your knife and get ready for lots of chopping!

I’ve had this recipe forever, and have no clue where it came from beyond a magazine (because it’s on glossy paper). I’ve made a few changes over the years, but it’s basically intact – so, whatever long-ago test kitchen cook came up with it, thanks!

1 can (about 15 ounces) stewed tomatoes
1 small red onion, or half a large one, peeled and cut into chunks
3 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 or 2 jalapeño peppers, cut in a few pieces (seeds removed for a milder salsa)
1 small to medium bunch cilantro, stems removed
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into 3” pieces
4-ounce can diced green chilies
2 to 3 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 large tomatoes, or 4 to 6 smaller ones; about 2 pounds tomatoes

Place everything except the fresh tomatoes into the work bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture is as smooth/chunky as you like. Transfer to a large bowl.

Cut the fresh tomatoes into chunks, and process until they’re as finely chopped as you like. Don’t over-process; you don’t want tomato purée.

Stir the tomatoes into the remaining ingredients in the bowl.

Chill until ready to serve.

Homemade chips? We can do that.

Use a pair of scissors or a knife to cut pita (homemade or store-bought) into wedges. Lay them close together on a baking sheet, and brush or spray with olive oil.

Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for about 20 minutes.

If they’re not completely dry and crisp, turn off the oven, crack the door open, and let them cool right in the cooling oven.

OK, back to the salsa. Let me try to answer some of your questions ahead of time.

“How long will this last in the fridge?”

I don’t know, we always eat it so quickly I’ve never seen it get old.

“Is it OK to can this?”

Uhhh… Don’t know. If you know how to can stuff and make jam, then you probably already know how to do it, right?

Me, I wouldn’t hazard a guess. Any reader who’s had success canning salsa, chime in here, OK?

“How about freezing it?”

Well… possible, though I think the texture of the crunchier vegetables would suffer.

I’m telling you – fresh is the way to go.

Talk about a delicious way to up your daily vegetable consumption…

Serve with pita chips or tortilla chips. And if you’ve made your chips out of whole wheat pita – so much the better!

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. carolprudm

    If you love salsa and have a garden try growing tomatillos. You need at least two plants as they are not self fertile. Then you can freeze salsa base, equal parts of chopped tomatoes, tomatillos and peppers if you grow them too. When you want to serve it add an equal part of fresh chopped onion, the peppers if they weren’t in the mix already and whatever seasoning you want. The fresh chopped onions really improve the texture.

    Thanks for the suggestion, Carol – I’ve never tried tomatillos, but will look forward to doing so at some point. PJH

  2. AS

    Instead of waiting for tomatoes to drain in a colander, try your salad spinner — no joke, it works, and cleans up just fine. Have tomatoes minus the liquid in seconds .. then you can, if you want, pour the juice into a glass from the bowl. I do this for my daughter, who loves drinking the ‘tomato juice’ afterwards. I’ve actually caught her draining tomatoes in the salad spinner, just to get the juice! 😉

    What a great idea. Dig out the salad spinner, folks, and take your chopped tomatoes for a spin… thanks a lot, AS! PJH

  3. rochelle_keefer

    In regards to the watery salsa, do you drain the stewed tomatoes as well? Looking forward to trying this tomorrow. The tomatoes are piling up!
    There are no specific directions to drain the tomatoes and you will need some liquid for the salsa. Perhaps if you want to avoid excess water, you could partially drain, or reserve the liquid in case you find you need to add some after it is made. ~Amy

    I wouldn’t drain the stewed tomatoes. The salsa does get very liquid-y, due to the fresh tomatoes gradually releasing their juices. I usually just drain any excess juice off the amount I’m serving, leaving the juice in the remainder; I think it helps keep it fresh. PJH

  4. vnielson14

    I love fresh salsa and I’m always sad when tomato season ends. Can I make a small suggestion to your salsa recipe? When I make salsa it always gets watery after a little while and I hate that. I’m guessing you added the can of stewed tomatoes to thicken things up? If it helps, I cut up the (fresh) tomatoes, add the salt, and put the salted tomatoes in a colander for a half hour or so. The salt draws out the water from the tomatoes and the water drips out the bottom of the colander and doesn’t end up in the salsa. Then I proceed by adding all the other ingredients and trying not to eat it all in one day.
    Yes, that may be the reason this recipe calls for stewed tomatoes. That is a super suggestion for drawing out the tomato liquid! Love this time of year. I made a wonderful gazpacho. Did you know there are as many gazpacho recipes as there are cooks? Probably much like salsa! Elisabeth

  5. Charlene S.

    I used to can salsa years ago– Used the Ball recipe and was careful not to reduce the acidity. It DOES taste different because you have to cook it to seal the jars.
    Now I just make it fresh and realize that we can’t make every recipe all year long! This is a great recipe– will add it to my repertoire!

    Charlene, I agree. Some things are just plain at their best in one particular season, and we should honor and enjoy their “here today, gone tomorrow” aspect. Enjoy – PJH

  6. AnneMarie

    I forgot to add in, re:freezing, when it is frozen the ice crystals tht form in the salsa break down the cell walls of the tomato bits. So when the salsa is thawed it is a little more watery than when you first made it, but it certainly doesn’t slow anyone down from eating it.

  7. AnneMarie

    I use the stewed tomatoes with the jalep. peppers and another can of green chilies in it (double the recipe). It saves a step 🙂

    Otherwise, I use the same recipe. Lime juice only.

    OH, and I freeze and jar it. Pressure canning not neccessary for this one, it is plenty acidic.

    Ditto on NO PITA chips. LOL!

    Although you can bake crisps torilla wraps to make your own chips. 🙂

  8. "Momo "

    I do can salsa! Leave out the sugar, because it will get too sweet when canned. A pressure canner is definitely not necessary. The lime juice (and the balsamic vinegar I use in mine) make it plenty acidic enough for a water bath canner. There are instructions in the Ball Blue book for canning salsa (they even make a mix for it) and online. I can pints of salsa for just the two of us, and that’s a perfect size. It’s great to open a home-canned jar of salsa in the cold of winter, but it’s a shame to eat it with anything but corn tortillas. Pita bread? Really? Not in south, you won’t!

    Freezing salsa would ruin it.
    Thanks for sharing all this great info! ~ MaryJane


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