RoastedTomatilloChipotleChipA friend of mine in Colorado Springs loves this recipe, as do his kids, so I make a few jars every year, some for him, some for me (sorry John, we ate the 2011 batch before I could mail it to you last winter). My husband, who is not a huge fan of the sweetness of tomatillos, does not eat this salsa with abandon, which is also good. It gives me a chance to have some.

If you’ve ever made canned salsa, you know it’s hours of work. A lot of slicing and dicing and measuring to make sure you don’t go above the safe pH level, and steaming up your kitchen during the hottest months of the year. I used to make lots  of tomato salsa until I realized that 1) my husband, who wasn’t helping with the slicing and dicing, was eating 90% of it 2) homemade salsa tends to be somewhat watery because of all the additional vinegar added to bring the pH down and 3) my husband likes salsa from the store just as well. He has a standing offer to help me slice and dice any time (I’d like to try substituting citric acid powder for vinegar to improve consistency). Until then, I tend to just can the tomatoes instead. But I do save some to make a batch of this salsa every year.


Yup, some of those tomatillos are purple. I grew a purple variety this year.

This recipe is modified from the one in the 2003 edition of the Ball Blue Book (page 80). The new edition (yellow cover) no longer includes this recipe, which is a shame, because it is downright spectacular, and well worth the effort. I’m guessing that finding/working with dried chilies and/or tomatillos (most people at our farmers market have no idea what they are) was too much for the average home cook. Or maybe they just figured that the whole chipotle craze was SO over (not in our house). In case you have been living in a cave for the past 10 years, chipotle’s are dried smoked jalapeno peppers, and you can get them either whole dried, powdered, or in a can in sauce. A little goes a long way. They can be surprisingly hot.

New to canning? I’m not going to give details about how to prepare your jars, secure the lids, and boiling water bath canning in general. But it IS important, and you DO need to know it. Please check out this site before you start.

Roasted Tomatillo-Chipotle Salsa
Makes about 4 pints

  • 12 dried chipotle chilies
  • 12 dried cascebel chilies (I’ve never seen these for sale anywhere. Looking at Google, they have about the heat of an Ancho. I substitute dried new mexican red chilies)
  • 2 lbs tomatillos, with husks removed
  • 2 lbs roma (paste) tomatoes, cored
  • 1/2 lb onion, quartered and peeled
  • peeled cloves of garlic from 1 large head
  • 2 tsp sugar (optional – if your tomatillos are dead ripe, they will be plenty sweet and you may not want this)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup white vinegar (apple cider vinegar could be substituted)

RoastedTomatilloChipotleChiliesBroil chilies until they just start to char, turning to roast on all sides. (I just throw them on a toaster oven pan and hit “toast” on a light setting, keeping an eye on them and turning as needed. Works great). Once charred, cut off stem and shake out seeds (they will be pliable from the heat – you might want to wear gloves if you are sensitive to chilies – and for heaven sakes, don’t rub your eyes afterwords, especially if you wear contacts). Put roasted chilies in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Weight chilies under water to keep them submerged (I use a small plate) and set aside.

Line your baking sheet with foil, and cover with tomatillos, tomatoes, onions and garlic (no oil!). Note that the Ball recipe does not peel the garlic or onions first, but I find that the moisture from the tomatillos/tomatoes keeps them from drying out, and it’s all so much easier to work with if peeled before hand. Broil 15-20 minutes, turning once about half way through to roast all sides.

Remove baking sheet from oven. Peel tomatoes (the skins will slip right off). Finely chop now roasted garlic in food processor. Add soaked peppers and pulse until finely chopped (the Ball recipe includes the soaking water, but I find that this makes the salsa way too watery, and since the amount of water isn’t specified, this just doesn’t make much sense; less water = less diluted = more acidic = good). Add onions, tomatillos and tomatoes to processor, along with any accumulated juices (you may need to work in batches) and pulse until salsa is to your desired consistency. I go for finely chopped, but not a purée.

RoastedTomatilloChipotlePotCombine chopped vegetable mixture, sugar (if using – taste first), salt and vinegar in a large pot. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Ladle hot salsa into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner. (The Ball recipe calls for this mixture to be puréed – which might make you wonder if this is a safe processing time if you have left your salsa a little chunky. Two other more chunky recipes for salsa on the same page also have a 15 minute processing time – follow measured amounts exactly and under no circumstances reduce the amount of vinegar, and all will be well).

Miles Away Farm Blog © 2012, where we are still trying to convince most customers at the farmers market that tomatillos are good food and not some weird alien plant that no one in their right mind would eat…which means I end up with a lot of tomatillos at home for this recipe. I also make a straight roasted tomatillo salsa and fresh tomatillo/serrano/avocado salsa. Got to love harvest season!