My Canning Adventure Continues: Nectarine and Plum Tomato Salsa

by Carol Sacks on May 29, 2012

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Last month, I wrote about my first experience canning, making Cathy Barrow’s ( Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce, and how gratifying it was to make something that had a shelf life. Here in Santa Barbara, produce traditionally associated with the summer months — cherries, peaches, nectarines, etc. — began arriving in our Farmers Market a few weeks ago. Taking advantage of the abundance of stone fruits, and a steady supply of raspberries, I canned White-Peach Raspberry Jam last week. The recipe? Cathy shared the proportions of fruit to sugar to flavoring (Meyer Lemon juice in my case) via Twitter and off to the kitchen I went. My modest project yielded three jars of this pretty, not-too-sweet, floral-smelling jam, adding to this canner-in-training’s larder.

Matthew suggested I step up my game and give salsa a try. My primary concern was canning safety. After assuring me that cooked fruity salsas are straightforward — similar to jams and preserves — Cathy steered me to her Peachy Spicy Salsa recipe. I’m always drawn to fruit salsas, finding them versatile (a great accompaniment to grilled fish, for example), and complex in flavor — sweet and tangy with a beat or two before the heat kicks in. Cathy noted in her recipe that this salsa is equally satisfying made with a combination of fruit and tomatoes, which is exactly the combination I had in mind.

I know we’re ready for summer when Burkdoll Farms of Visalia sets up its stand at the Farmers Market on Saturdays. Last week, I filled a small bag with fragrant apriums (a cross between apricot and plum) and Brooks Cherries. This week, I couldn’t resist the yellow-and-blush Rainier Cherries and the heavy, red-and-orange nectarines.

I buy my plum tomatoes from Beylik Family Farms of Venture County, fourth-generation farmers who sell their produce from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles. One of the women who works at the market every week told me that plum tomatoes are her choice for roasting as well as for cooking salsa, so I bought a few pounds of the bright red, oval beauties.

While it’s best to set aside about two hours from start to finish for this salsa, all of the steps are straightforward. First, I filled my stock pot with water and set it on the stove to boil. This pot was used to sterilize the jars as well as process the jars of salsa after cooking. I put another pot of water on the stove to boil; this would be used to blanch the nectarines and tomatoes, making it easier to slip the skins off before cooking (after blanching, the fruit is quickly dropped in a large bowl of ice water, before peeling). While the second pot was coming to a boil, I did a rough chop on a peeled, large red onion and a red pepper, and removed the ribs and seeds from one jalapeno pepper (I opted for a mild salsa rather than a fiery one, so I used only one jalapeno). The Bug peeled garlic and picked cilantro from our garden, adding them to the food processor. She pulsed the vegetables in one-second intervals, stopping when she had a fine chop, but not a liquidy mix.

We mixed the fruit, apple cider vinegar, honey, a generous amount of cumin and a modest amount of cayenne in a large pot on the stove and added the onions and pepper mixture to the pot, cooking the salsa mixture at a simmer for 25 minutes. I ladled the hot mixture into half-pint jars, sealed them and then processed the jars for 15 minutes before removing them from the water bath to cool. A few minutes later, I heard one ping after the next, until it was clear all six jars had been processed successfully.

While I made dinner, we dipped salty tortilla chips in the cooled salsa and scooped up the sweet-and- tangy sauce with crunchy carrot sticks as well. The cumin and cayenne add a spicy warmth and heat to the fruity mixture, and we loved the piney, lemony flavors that the cilantro lent to the sauce. We’ve earmarked half of our batch for friends, which means The Bug and I will be back in the kitchen soon to make another variation — spicier, next time — of this versatile, flavorful salsa.

I’ve included my spin on Cathy’s recipe below. Here is a link to her post.

5.0 from 4 reviews
Nectarine and Plum Tomato Salsa
Recipe type: condiment
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6½-pints
Sweet and tangy, this is a summery fruit salsa with just a touch of heat.
  • 3 cups ripe nectarines, peeled, pitted and cut in ½-inch pieces (5-6 nectarines)
  • 3 cups plum tomatoes, peeled and cut in ½-inch pieces (8-9 tomatoes)
  • 1-1/4 cup red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, ribs and seeds removed or intact, according to your taste (I used just one jalapeno, and removed ribs and seeds)
  • 1 sweet red pepper, seeds and membranes removed, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, leaves removed from stems
  • ¾ cup cider vinegar
  • 4 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne (boost to ½ teaspoon for more heat)
  1. In a large pot of boiling water, blanch the nectarines for 30-60 seconds, depending on the size of the fruit. Do the same for the tomatoes. 
Have ready a large bowl of ice water. Remove the fruit and tomatoes from the hot water and drop it into the ice water, letting it rest in the water for a minute or two. Slip the peels from both the nectarines and tomatoes. Remove the pits from the nectarines and cut into a ½-inch pieces; dice the tomatoes in ½-inch pieces, too.
  2. Add the nectarines to a 5 qt. non-reactive pan. Add the cider vinegar, honey and spices and stir well. The vinegar will keep the fruit from discoloring.
  3. Put the onion, peppers, garlic and cilantro in the food processor and pulse until everything is cut up quite small, but not liquified in any way. (If you don’t have a food processor, chop by hand, but make sure the pieces are smaller than the pieces of nectarine.
  4. Add the chopped vegetables to the nectarine-and-tomato mixture and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring gently so the nectarines do not break apart.
  6. Put hot salsa into 6 hot ½-pint jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.



{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Beth (OMG! Yummy) May 29, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I think I can…I think I can… How fun!

Well I finally opened my friend’s canned spaghetti sauce this weekend and had that fear of eating home-canned products of course, for naught. It was yummy and perfectly safe to eat. He is an expert canner, even judging in local county fair contests.

I think I’m going to need someone in the kitchen with me the first time either literally or virtually, but you are giving me confidence.

It looks lovely and yummy Carol.


Carol Sacks May 29, 2012 at 6:04 pm

You can do it! I’m not ready to tackle tomatoes yet (pressure canning involved), but the fruit stuff is doable. I’ll talk you through it if you need it — which you don’t! Thanks for commenting:)


Patty Smay August 2, 2016 at 10:47 am

You don’t have to pressure can tomatoes. I’ve been waterbathing them for 30 years and my mother before me as well. They are perfect water bathed. Follow the instructions for them (you have to add lemon juice in case the tomatoes don’t have enough acid) and go for it !!!


Cathy May 30, 2012 at 7:18 am

I’m so thrilled to see this. Kvell….


Carol Sacks May 30, 2012 at 7:24 am

Thank you for all of your help and encouragement. I’m having a lot of fun with it.


Deb May 30, 2012 at 8:23 am

On my, nectarines and tomatoes, what festive flavors! Festive? Why yes, summer must be near! On a foggy, foggy morning your sunny salsa has brought a smile, as I huddle under my cozy quilt. I really must take inventory of my canning jars and begin planning what to can ths summer….. Last summer was the first season I canned and I need to come to terms with the full jars that languish in the pantry. This year I am wiser and will can more tomatoes and less marmalade.


Carol Sacks May 30, 2012 at 8:26 am

Hi Deb, definitely festive! Interesting about your canning strategy: fewer jars of marmalade and more jars of tomatoes. I’ll keep that in mind. I’ve definitely got the canning bug now. It’s fun and gratifying. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.


LiztheChef May 30, 2012 at 8:50 am

Carol, This is the salsa recipe I have been dreaming about!


Carol Sacks May 30, 2012 at 9:03 am

Hi Liz! We are very happy with how it turned out. Next time, we’ll dial up the heat a bit. Let me know if you try it.


Winifred Lloyds Lender May 30, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Thank you for taking us on part II of your canning adventure. I enjoyed reading the post, learning more about the canning process, and found the idea of canning salsa very appealing. I am very intrigued with the aprium as well.


Carol Sacks May 31, 2012 at 5:11 am

Hi Winifred, I’ve caught the canning bug. Hope to do more this summer. Thanks so much for reading.


Jaime Foland August 19, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Hi Carol, This recipe is heavenly!! My husband came home & did a blind taste test (I’d been canning different salsas all day) and this was his favorite! Thank you for the great recipe!!


Carol Sacks August 19, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Hi Jaime, I’m so happy to hear it. Thanks for letting me know and please stay in touch!


serra wells June 15, 2015 at 1:19 pm

is there a reason i need to blanch and not leave skins on?


Carol Sacks June 15, 2015 at 3:44 pm

Hi Serra, the skins don’t break down and are a little chewy. That said, if you mind the texture, then I think it’s probably fine.


Susan June 12, 2016 at 10:38 am

Delicious! Loved the sweet savory balance. We put in chipotle instead of cayenne, for a little smokiness. Also left the skins on–let the health factor of added fiber justify our laziness;) Thanks!


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