Asked September 9, 2016, 4:36 PM EDT

I made pioneer women's fresh salsa and bottled 12 pints I used about 4 cups cilantro and only did a water bath. Should I have used a pressure cooker?

Fremont County Idaho

1 Response

Unfortunately, it is recommended to only can recipes that have been researched to be safe. Many factors have to be considered when determining how to preserve a food safely (pH, viscosity, etc.) and extensive research is done to ensure the recommended recipes will always be safe if canned according to directions. When you can your own recipes (or recipes from other sources) that have not been researched, you run the risk of your canned foods having the Clostridium botulinum toxin in them. The Clostridium botulinum bacteria is on most fresh foods, but because it will only grow and germinate in anaerobic environments, it usually does not cause a problem. However, when we can food, we create an anaerobic environment that botulism bacteria love. Other factors that affect the growth and germination of the botulism bacteria is the acidity and temperature. Botulism bacteria will not grow and germinate in acidic environments (pH 4.6 or less). The bacteria also survives very high temperatures (240-250 degrees Fahrenheit) because of its ability to form spores that protect it.

I cannot guarantee that the pioneer women's fresh salsa recipe is safe to can. Therefore, I recommend that you do not continue to can this food item. If you canned it within a day or two, you can store the bottles in the fridge or freezer until you can use them. Otherwise, it would be safest to get rid of them.

You can find safe, research-based recipes from the National Center for Home Food Preservation website and publication (, Ball/Kerr website and publications (, Mrs. Wages website and publications (, and So Easy to Preserve publication (