Cranberry Salsa

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Salsas add spice and intense flavors and colors to meals or snacks. Traditionally, we think of them as a combination of tomatoes, onions, and peppers that are eaten with chips. But fruit salsas with the heat of onions and peppers spooned across meat or fish can really perk up the taste buds.

Many folks love to experiment with salsa recipes. That’s great when you eat them fresh. But when you want to preserve them by canning there are some rules you need to follow closely. Most salsa recipes are a mixture of low-acid foods (such as onions and peppers) with acidic foods (such as tomatoes). Acidic flavorings such as vinegar, lemon juice, or lime juice are also common additions.

When canning, the types and amounts of ingredients used in salsa, as well as the preparation method, are important considerations. Some people wrongly think that the “heat” or the “spice” from the pepper will prevent bacteria or mold growth.

Improperly canned salsas have been implicated in more than one outbreak of botulism poisoning.

During our Holiday Canning Workshop on November 16th, We made a spicy cranberry salsa. This salsa could become a new favorite on your Thanksgiving dinner table.

Spicy Cranberry Salsa

  •  6 cups chopped red onion
  •  4 finely chopped large Serrano peppers*
  •  1½ cups water
  •  1½ cups cider vinegar (5%)
  •  1 tablespoon canning salt
  •  1 1/3 cups sugar
  •  6 tablespoons clover honey
  •  12 cups (2¾ pounds) rinsed, fresh whole cranberries

*Caution: Wear plastic or rubber gloves and do not touch your face while handling or cutting hot peppers. If you do not wear gloves, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face or eyes.


  1. Wash and rinse canning jars; keep them hot until ready to use. Prepare lids according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  2. Hot Pack: Combine all ingredients except cranberries in a large saucepot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat slightly and boil gently for 5 minutes.
  3. Add cranberries, reduce heat slightly and simmer the mixture for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.
  4. Fill the hot mixture into clean, hot jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Leave saucepot over low heat while filling jars. Remove air bubbles and adjust the headspace if needed.
  5. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; apply two-piece metal canning lids.
  6. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Makes 6 pints. Let cool, undisturbed, for 12 to 24 hours, and check for seals. Remove the ring band and store it upright. For the best quality, consume within one year.

Nutrition information: 2 Tablespoons = 25 calories, 0 grams fat, 1 gram fiber and 0
grams protein.

This recipe was adapted from the National Center for Home Food Preservation,
University of Georgia, Athens, GA.

When making salsa to be canned, be sure to follow a tested recipe from a reputable source. We recommend the National Center for Home Food Preservation. If you can’t find a tested recipe you think you’d like, it’s best to eat your favorite salsa recipe fresh and not try to can it. Fresh salsa will keep for up to one week in the refrigerator or frozen for up to one year.

The University of Georgia has a great fact sheet on canning salsa. It’s called Sensational Salsas. The fact sheet contains some instructions, cautions, and reminders for canning salsa and recipes for tomato and fruit-based salsa.

Cheryle Syracuse wrote this article and more similar ones for the Family and Consumer Sciences Column in the Brunswick Beacon. Syracuse is an FCS team member and can be reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center, 910.253.2610 or by email at