Country Living Series

Monday, October 1, 2012

Canning -- well, re-canning -- salsa

I have no talent (or so my kids tell me) for making either pizza sauce or salsa. However our family enjoys both these sauces in appreciable quantities. So what's an avid canner to do?

My solution may not be for everyone, but it works for us: I buy large commercial quantities of these items, and re-can them into smaller packages.

Recently I purchased a case of salsa in #10 cans.


By nesting my two largest pots double-boiler style (so the salsa wouldn't burn at the bottom), I was able to fit three cans in at a time. I like to hot-pack the salsa, which means I need to heat it up to near-boiling before packing the jars.


I washed and saved the cans, of course. Large cans are always useful around here.


I always pressure-can my re-canned salsa. I'd rather play it safe than sorry. My canner holds 18 pints at a time, so that's how many jars I filled. I had some leftover salsa, which I canned in the next batch.


Scalding my Tattler lids and rings.


Into the canner.


My pressure canner is an All American, which has a metal-to-metal seal between the lid and the body. This means that about every five uses or so, I need to lubricate the metal on the lid by applying a thin coat of petroleum jelly. This keeps the metal lid from "sticking" to the body of the canner after processing something. I keep the tub of Vaseline inside the canner when I store it away so I never have to go searching for it.


I re-canned the salsa at 12 lbs. pressure (adjusted for our higher elevation) for 25 minutes for the pints.


While the first batch processed, I heated the other three cans of salsa and packed the jars.


This left me with six clean empty large cans, which I stashed in the barn for the time being.


First batch, out of the canner.


While the second batch processed, I washed the large pots and other accouterments. Sheesh, it seems my stove has been FULL of large pots lately, since I've been canning so much.


I ended up with four extra pints above what the canner would hold during the second batch. I toyed with just putting them in the fridge for immediate use, but I was afraid that much salsa would go bad before it could be eaten. In the end I processed a third batch in the pressure canner -- four lonely pints in a canner that holds 18.


The case of salsa cost me about $42 at a wholesale grocery. I got 40 pints canned up out of that case, so that comes to a hair over $1/pint (not counting the cost of the propane to re-can everything). What does a pint of salsa go for these days? Did I save money doing this?

44 comments:

  1. Hi Patrice, I am also a 're-canner'. For years I have purchased 2 brands of Ketchup in #10 cans, mixed the 2 brands together, heated, jarred and processed the blend. Hubby said it's the best ketchup I ever made. I finally confessed after doing this for 4 years! I have also done sweet relish from gallon jars too, after a dismal cuke season. With your very busy life, take the help where you can find it.
    Lee, a.k.a Pigzzilla

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    Replies
    1. i've been wanting to do jalopenos this way...buy bulk, and re-can, have you had any trouble with your relish?

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    2. when doing the sweet relish, do you have to bring that to a boil...or just pack it in the jars cold/room temp...and then biol them???

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  2. Uh, okay. I'm not bashful, I'll ask...

    Taking things OUT of new, sealed #10 cans and "canning" them into pint jars.

    [long pause...sound of crickets]

    I understand making smaller, useable portions. But couldn't you do that with whatever's left when you open the can to use some? Do you feel that the canned sauces have a longer shelf life having been re-canned than they would have had, left unmolested in the original can? Or is it simply the economy of scale in effort, doing them all at once, that makes this make some kind of sense?

    Jeff - Tucson

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    1. I could certainly just can up the salsa as I go -- say, open a #10 can, use what we're going to use, then can the rest right then and there. But canning is a procedure that takes a long time, so I'd rather do it all at once (meaning, re-can the entire case at once) to save time. Plus this gives us the added advantage of having convenient sizes available in the pantry whenever we want.

      You hit the nail on the head -- the economy of scale in effort. Bingo.

      - Patrice

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    2. Patrice Lewis
      could you do this with the big cans of ketchup...my daughers the only one that eats it and id love to be able to put it in 1/2 pints....thank you

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    3. Absolutely. Water-bath can the ketchup for 15 minutes and you're good to go!

      - Patrice

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  3. I too have re-canned many things. Being an avid canner for over 30 years myself we get creative at times even though the USDA says you shouldn't. But you know what re-canning makes things mushy at times and I have never met a mushy sauce! I have done spaghetti sauce, apple sauce, salsa and catsup. My kids won't eat unsweetened apple sauce and when I was getting commodities they gave us ALOT of it. So when I made fresh applesauce out came the yucky stuff and it all got mixed together. Also I live in canning country close to where the Allen's corporate and factories are (Popeye spinach) they have a company store where they sell excess, dents, etc. I can get the #10 cans of stuff by the case really cheap. For example I just bought a case of #10 cans of catsup for $1.75 a can. I can not make catsup for that. My family balks at store bought because they really like the catsup I make from scratch but hey when you are re-canning you can also doll up the seasonings while you are at it!

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  4. If I remember right a jar of store bought salsa is running close to $4.00 a jar. I haven't had to buy any in years since I started making and canning my own. You did good!! Ha My Aunt and Uncle who canned anything that didn't move turned me on to "Mrs Wages" mixes for canning salsa with our own tomatoes. They also have lots of other mixes, pizza and chili starter are others I use. The ingredients are all natural in the mixes and you don't have to use a pressure canner, a water bath is what is called for. I have to order my mixes on line, no one in the area carry's them

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    Replies
    1. haha.. I love that! Your Aunt and Uncle canning anything that didn't move!

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  5. Curious-why did you see fit to recan the salsa? It will last just as long in the original container, if not longer. (About 5 years vs. 1-2 for the recanned.)

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    1. I re-can the large cans simply for ease of use. You're right, the salsa would be fine in its original packaging for a long time. But then we couldn't open the cans and use any salsa without either storing the large can in the fridge (a temporary solution) or having to re-can right away before the remainder of the salsa in the large can goes bad. Having the salsa in convenient pint jars means we can use a small amount whenever we wish, without the rest of the can going bad.

      In other words, the salsa isn't (necessarily) for long-term food storage; it's for convenient and immediate use.

      - Patrice

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  6. I could be wrong but I think you saved about 45 cents a pint on Tennessee prices. Pace salsa goes about 2.89 a quart here, so divide by 2 to get 1.45 a pint, giving you a savings of 45 cents a pint.

    Thanks for posting about all your canning. I like reading about it, especially when you can bacon.

    sheilab15

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  7. I'd say you saved about .50 a pint compared to pints of brand name salsa. I can get brand name pints for $1.50 if I wait for a sale and use a coupon. Where you saved big was in preventing waste. If you left salsa in the #10 cans and tried to eat it all before it spoiled - you'd never want to eat salsa again! ;-)

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  8. Oh, you saved a LOT of money! This is such a good idea I may do it. We don't eat enough salsa at a time before it goes bad. Wewant the salsa but I hate the waste... this is a VERY thrify way to do it.

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  9. It looks like you have potentially saved some money doing this according to the salsa manufactures website.


    "The suggested retail price of Embasa® salsa Mexicana is $.99 for the 7-ounce can." ... http://www.hormelfoods.com/newsroom/brandinfo/EmbasaMexicanProductsFS.aspx

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  10. Wow, you saved per jar, you saved by not running to the store when ever you want salsa and you saved by putting away something you know your family likes and will eat. Sounds like a great bargin for a half days work. The picture of your canned goods at the top of your page is very pretty.

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  11. I think you saved, even figuring in propane (thankfully we don't figure in our time as wages.) We still like our homemade green tomato salsa though. It's nice to be able to wait for this cooler weather to can those tomatoes that have run out of time to ripen. I'm getting hungry thinking about it!

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  12. Patrice,

    I do the same thing with tomato sauce from #10 cans. I could open it and freeze the rest, but it takes up valuable real estate that way.

    I do have a question for you, though. On your header (beautiful by the way!), it shows that you've stacked jars. I'm running out of space in my storage room and have been tempted to do that, but I keep reading that you shouldn't. Have you ever had a problem with stacked jars coming unsealed?

    Lisa

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  13. I'm just getting serious about canning. I read in a couple blogs that the women filling up empty space in their pressure canner with jars of beans. Just dry beans and water. Wondered what you thought?

    Here are two links if you care to look. Each a little different method. I just found these on the internet and do not endorse in any way.

    http://canninggranny.blogspot.se/2012/09/canning-pork-n-beans.html

    http://frugalcanning.blogspot.com/2011/06/rotating-your-food.html

    This seems to be a good idea, not only to fill up space in a pressure canner, but an easy way to have canned beans on hand.

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    1. You have to process everything in the canner to meet the requirements of the item which requires the longest time. So if you have something like Patrice's salsa which she did for 25 minutes, you would not really want to do the beans which take 75 minutes (pints), your salsa would be way overdone. Try to match up items with similar canning times and always do the longest, then it is a good idea.

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    2. Lynette, I agree with Anon 12:24 above. Whenever you're canning two different things, you have to process in accordance with the item requiring the longest processing time. From the links you provided, the pork-n-beans sounded as if it were properly done (anything containing meat must be canned for 75 minutes for pints), but I wouldn't trust the other canner's canned beans because it doesn't sound like she processed them long enough. That's why a good canning reference book is essential -- it gives you the processing times for each item.

      If I have room in the canner, I often can a separate, unrelated item -- but only if its processing time is compatible.

      - Patrice

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  14. Salsa never lasts long enough in our house to warrant recanning. :)

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    Replies
    1. What Maria said... :)

      Jeff - Tucson

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  15. I'm always impressed with your blog. I just (this week) got my pressure canner, hot water canned for years. We are just getting started on preparedness and will be moving to our cabin/homestead this January. So I'm looking forward to putting my new canner to use. Re-canning will be a good place to start since I've missed most of the season for fresh veggies. Thanks so much Patrice.

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  16. Patrice,
    Have you ever thought of using pH strips to check the pH of the salsa? Most salsas, even store bought have vinegar in them, so they should be high acid so that you could BW bath them. I make my own salsa recipe from home grown tomatoes and it tests at 4 before I add the lemon juice. I then add a cup of lemon juice (ReaLemon) and it tests at 3.5. I think you can find the strips online or at hardware stores. My mother in law gave me mine.
    I sometimes get the salsa all made up and then put it in the fridge for one or two days and then start the canning in the morning. I just canned up 20 pints yesterday.
    I did buy a couple of #10 cans of sliced olives at Costco to re-can when I get the time.
    Paintedmoose

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    Replies
    1. How long are you processing the olives? Water or pressure?

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  17. I pay $4.00 a pint for salsa and I pay it gladly. I really like salsa, but I can't make it either.

    Yep, you saved a ton.

    Just Me

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  18. those folks who do not can their own stuff are missing the point of us doing this. we not only recan stuff for the convenience of smaller jars/packages..we also do it for the time when even the small jars and packages are not available at the stores and this can happen...it is cheaper too and although some have told me that you might lose a small amount of "quality" in a recanned product i truly do not believe that is the case-particularly if you follow all the instructions on canning. and a recanned jar of salsa or anything else that has been canned properly will probably be good five years or more if the jar/package is stored properly as well.

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  19. P_
    Where did you get the #10 cans of salsa? Costco? I don't remember seeing and cans that large.....

    Thanks,
    Elizabeth

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    Replies
    1. We do a lot of bulk shopping at a regional Cash & Carry (https://www.smartfoodservice.com/) -- it caters to restaurants, but anyone can buy there as long as they pay in cash. They usually have the best deals in town, though *occasionally* I find a better deal at Costco.

      In fact, C&C is my favorite "prepper" food store because *everything* is in bulk, and they have a very wide variety of staples.

      - Patrice

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  20. I would re-can for 50 cents a jar. There's only two of us and I really only make one recipe using salsa. (Sorry not salsa & chips eaters) Three #10s would last quite a while. And I do have jars empty and waiting. . .

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  21. Does it mushier? I have some #10 cans stored away, but was afraid the quality would be compromised.

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    Replies
    1. We haven't noticed any change in quality. The salsa was canned to begin with so it was already "mushy," so re-canning it didn't appreciably affect the quality. Our younger daughter is our salsa aficionado, and she says it tastes fine re-canned.

      - Patrice

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    2. Thank you I will try it too!

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  22. Does the quality stay the same? I have some big cans of salsa stored I got at grocery outlet for $2.49 a can but didn't know if it would re-can the same.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, the quality stays the same as far as I can tell.

      - Patrice

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  23. I want to re-can salsa into individual portion size for an event one month away. I don't have a canner but think i could do the boiling method. Do you recommend since it will be used within a short time span?

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  24. Absolutely NOT. One month is plenty of time for botulism to grow. If you aren't able to can it, trying freezing it instead in individual portion sizes. That should work fine.

    - Patrice

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  25. Can this be done with black olives?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, but I recommend following the directions beginning on pg. 19 of this pdf article:

      http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/pdf/8267.pdf

      - Patrice

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  26. My wife Sara bought a 62 ounce jar of sweet relish. She is the only one that eats it. I was thinking of re-canning it into pint jars, but my wife Theresa says the re-cooking process would make the relish too mushy. We also buy nacho cheese in #10 cans, put it in pint jars and freeze it, but freezing it causes the cheese to loose it's texture.
    So this is why I am looking into canning.
    Do I really need a pressure cooker or would a simple starter kit work?
    your opinion would be appreciated.

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    Replies
    1. I don't eat relish so I don't know if re-canning relish into smaller containers would make it too mushy or not. Experiment and find out! Water-bath canning should work for re-canning relish, but just to be safe I would add some extra acidifier into each jar. Vinegar will work fine, perhaps 1/2 teaspoon for half-pints, 1 teaspoon for pints, or 1 tablespoon to quarts. Process at a ROLLING boil for 15 minutes.

      I do NOT recommending canning nacho cheese, at all. Dairy products are a food group NOT recommended for home canning, even with a pressure canner.

      - Patrice

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