Peach Salsa for Canning, Revisited

Ironically enough, the day we went peach picking a couple of weeks ago at Fishkill Farm, we came home, had an impromptu barbecue with our friend Alison, and opened a jar of last year’s peach salsa (rather than boiling a big pot of water, peeling peaches, and making a fresh batch). While it is still quite tasty after a year on the shelf, the salsa has definitely mellowed (it seemed just a bit too sweet and not nearly spicy enough) and the tasting gave me an opportunity to tweak this year’s recipe with shelf-life in mind. I am still learning to remember about the mellowing phase of certain preserves, salsas, chutneys and mustards in particular; i.e. if I make them perfectly-spicy/tart/sweet going into the jar, they will not be perfect by the time I get around to eating them. So, while it is somewhat counter-intuitive to me, as I am very much a adjust-to-taste kind of cook, it is fun to experiment and then see how things behave following storage time on the pantry shelves.

This year I tried to cook the salsa a bit less, to retain more of the fresh peach taste & texture; but I don’t like watery salsas, so I drained the peach juice off, reduced it first, then added the sliced peaches and vegetables. I also upped the spice factor by including all the jalapeno seeds and adding in a small amount of habanero pepper. I swapped green & Cubanelle peppers in for red bell pepper (which I can never seem to find locally until very late summer/early autumn), added in a little bit of tomato and some lime juice to up the acid, and remembered to include the garlic. I’ll let it mellow for a while and we shall see how it goes.

Adapted from Peach Salsa in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, J. Kingry & L. Devine, eds


Peach Salsa for Canning (2010)


  • 1 cup cider vinegar (at least 5% acidity)
  • 9 cups peaches, peeled, pitted, and finely chopped (about 6 lbs gross, 5 and 1/2 lbs net)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups red onion, chopped
  • 6 jalapeno peppers, minced, seeded as desired (about 3/4 cup; I left all seeds in. Wear gloves to chop.)
  • 2 small green bell peppers and 2 Cubanelle peppers, seeded, ribs removed, chopped into 1/4″ dice (total of 2 cups chopped)
  • 1/2 lb red tomatoes, sliced on the equator, juice & seeds squeezed out, hulled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced, frozen cilantro, firmly packed ( or 3/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro, loosely packed)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp minced habanero pepper (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 tbsp lime juice (fresh or bottled)
  • 2 and 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or dried, ground local chile pepper


  1. If canning, prepare canner, jars & lids.
  2. Add vinegar, chopped peaches, onion, peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, cumin, salt and cayenne pepper to a large (8 quart) stockpot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
  3. Fill hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.  Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Yields about 7 pints.


Rainy day salsa!


  1. Because of the strange peach phenomenon of rock-to-rot this year, these peaches ‘marinated’ in cider vinegar for a couple of days, peeled, pitted and broken into chunks, in the refrigerator before I could turn them into salsa. Vinegar protects from browning, but inevitably some peaches float above the vinegar; those peaches turned a very unappetizing shade of brown; safe to eat, but ugly. (I skimmed them off and discarded.) If you must store your peaches peeled as I did, make sure to weight an inverted plate over the bowl so as to keep the top peaches submerged and protected from browning.
  2. As my peaches had been marinating and releasing juice for a couple of days, I drained the liquid off of the peach chunks before chopping and adding to the stockpot. I reduced this liquid, over high heat in a small saucepan, to a thin syrup, then added it to the peaches in the pot. In this way I could cook the salsa for less time without canning a watery product.
  3. I chopped the peaches and all the vegetables in a food processor.  While hand-chopping yields a more consistent texture, for this large batch size, I don’t feel it’s worth the extra effort. I hand-chopped last year and the chunks seemed too large to me this year when eating the salsa. This year I chopped everything a little bit finer in the food processor; we shall see how the texture is once this batch has mellowed on the shelf for a while.
  4. Other changes from last year: after about a year of mellowing on the shelf, I found last year’s batch a little sweet and not very spicy; hence I eliminated the honey and added some habanero pepper. Red bell peppers never seems to be available, locally, until the very end of the summer; hence I went with green & Cubanelle peppers this year, and added a couple of tomatoes for color.
  5. As with any recipe that includes a mix of acidic and non-acidic ingredients: you may safely decrease the amount of onions or peppers in the recipe, but do not increase, in order to ensure a safely acidic salsa. You may safely increase the amount of peaches, vinegar or lime juice, but do not decrease.
  6. The proportions of the original Ball recipe, scaled to 9 cups of peaches: 3/4 cup white vinegar, 9 cups peaches, 1 and 7/8 cups onion, 6 jalapeno peppers, 1 and 1/2 red bell peppers, 3/4 cup loosely packed cilantro, 3 tbsp honey, 1 and 1/2 garlic cloves, 2 and 1/4 tsp ground cumin, 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper.
  7. The recipe can be 100% local with the omission of cumin: but I find cumin essential for good salsa. I think it’s worth the exception.


Store fresh, cooked salsa in the refrigerator for about a week. Peaches will start to lose color and texture after that time.  Store canned salsa for up to 1 year in a cool, dark place.  (Ambient light will cause the color of the salsa to fade).


Peaches are in season in late summer.


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  2. lora

    Thank you for this delicious recipe. I’ve made two batches already. I love the modifications you made to the Ball recipe. I did omit the habaneros, as we are more of a moderate spice kind of family, and I thought it was just right.

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    • Nectarines do tend to be less acidic than peaches: the FDA quotes nectarines as 3.9 – 4.2 pH, while peaches are 3.3 – 4.1. I suspect that you would still be fine, as the amount of acidity in this recipe probably puts the overall salsa well below the safe pH of 4.6 for water bath canning, but, personally, I would not make the substitution unless you have a way to test for pH. The peaches are contributing significantly to the acidity of the recipe and it is impossible to tell the impact of a switch to nectarines without measuring the pH.

      • Thank you! I’m always careful with salsa recipes and haven’t found one for nectarines (which is what I happen to have). I’m wondering if I should look at subbing them in for tomatoes rather than peaches, which should result in a more-acidic-than-necessary recipe, since the nectarines should be more acidic than the tomatoes…

        • Seems like a safe bet to sub them for tomatoes; as you safe, the are more acidic, and while a bit more dense than tomatoes, the nectarines themselves are safely acidic so it shouldn’t be a problem. If you’re looking for nectarine preserves in general, do take a look at the Preserves page here: I like to dry nectarines for use in granola & baked goods year-round, and there is also a nectarine-ginger pie filling recipe that goes through a lot of nectarines, if you have a bounty to preserve.

          I’ve long heard rumors that white peaches and white nectarines have a higher pH profile than their yellow counterparts, and need extra acidification for safe water-bath canning, but I’ve never found the data to support this claim. Take care, however, if you happen to have white nectarines, and perhaps toss a little extra acid into the mix.

  5. Erin

    I made this recipe today, following it exactly. It’s my first time canning ever, and I love peach salsa, so I figured I would try it. I can’t way to try some, I’m hoping it thickens a bit as it sits? It seems a bit runny in the jars. I am sure it will be delicious though, thanks for sharing this recipe 🙂

  6. Laura

    I know this is a pretty old recipe, but I’ve got peaches soaking in a of cup vinegar in the fridge now and am planning to can them tomorrow. If I drain the juice and vinegar off and reduce it, then add to the salsa, does that count as my 1 cup of vinegar? Or do I need to add some back in to allow for the amount I boiled down? Thanks

  7. I bought some peach salsa in San Francisco one time and brought it home and stuck it in the fridge. I don’t know if it had mellowed out or just wasn’t made spicy on purpose, but it was really kind of bland. In looking through the cupboards, I found a jar of pickled peaches and cut them up and added some of the syrup to the jar of salsa and oh my! What a difference!! From now on, I am going to start my peach salsa with pickled peaches! It was sooooo yummmy!!

  8. Cathy

    Hi Kaela. I live in the Okanagan in British Columbia Canada. Peaches are now in season. Made your peach salsa today and it is delicious. I halved the recipe and processed in 250 ml jars. Didn’t have habanero so substituted a small amount of Thai red chili. Delicious. Thx for the recipe!!!

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