Canning Cactus Salsa

Recipes | Sides 16 16 Comments
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Salsa…  simply says summer, doesn’t it?!

With the summer garden in full swing, it was time to can some salsa!  Daja and I combined our ingredients from the garden (she has a ton of cactus and I have chiles coming out my ears!)  We bought tomatoes, onions and cilantro from the farmer’s market, and got to work.  Here’s our recipe and process.

15 lbs Tomatoes
4 Cactus Paddles (Nopales) Thorns removed, paddles washed, and chopped
4 Onions
1 bunch Cilantro
15 – 20 Serrano Chiles, Jalapenoes, Habeneros etc. (This is really dependent on how spicy you like your salsa.  Use more or less depending on your preference.)
1 ½ Tbls Kosher Salt
2 – 4 Limes for juice (To taste.)

Using a glove to hold the cactus, scrape the tiny stickers from the paddles using a sharp knife.

Can you believe these lovely tomatoes from the farmer’s market only cost $1.00 per pound!

Wash the tomatoes well in a sink of cool water.  Then core them and process in a food processor until they are just chunky.

Allow the tomatoes to drain in a fine-mesh strainer.  Then put all the liquid into a pot set over medium heat on the stove.  Bring the tomato juice up to a simmer and cook until the juice is thickened into a sauce consistency.  (We found this added quite a bit of sweetness to our finished salsa.)

Place the onions, peppers and cilantro in the food processor and pulse until chunky; combine with drained tomatoes in a large bowl.

Once you have the tomato juice cooked down pour in the remaining ingredients.  Bring the salsa up to a boil for just 5 minutes; add salt and lime juice to taste.

Ladle the salsa into sterilized jars leaving 1/4-inch of head room.  Wipe the top of the jar clean and put on lid and band.

Put the jars into the hot water bath, careful not to over crowd, and process for 30 minutes.

And here they are.  Little jars of spicy yummy goodness!

(Linked to Carnival of Home PreservingFrugal Days Sustainable Ways, and Wildcrafting Wednesday.)


  1. Justin - August 27, 2015

    Hi , late August in South Africa , winter ending and the cactus are soon to plump…. I missed the part where you add the paddles to the yummy sounding relish – at what point do they go in? thanks , love the site

    • Add them to the reduced tomato juice along with the onions, peppers, etc.

      Enjoy! And thanks for reading!!

  2. Aliyanna - July 23, 2014

    We make lots of this….cuz I have 9 kids!!! lol When I make it…I at least double the cactus….and we add tomatillos and lots of onion and garlic….also prolly at least a cup of paprika. We have been doing it in 5 liter fido jars and it keeps so well. Just sooo good fresh and now we we put it on the counter for like 4 days so it ferments ala Weston Price…and oh my!!! So good!!! Then right into the fridge!!! It sits next to the fermented beans that are usually in the fridge. Great stuff!!!

    • Kristina - July 23, 2014

      Sounds delicious!! I LOVE the idea of fermenting it. I’m also intrigued by your fermented beans. What kind do you like to ferment and what’s your favorite way to use them?

      • Aliyanna - July 24, 2014

        We soak ours til they have tiny roots…and then cook em……then I usually add Italian seasoning and 1/4 cup of salt to a 5 liter jar. We do all kinds of beans. My kids can’t do beans without being fermented….and this cuts back a lot of the gas and the carbs. Also ferment potatoes so that it doesn’t flare they candida issues. Tastes great. My husband who is a diabetic has less issues with his blood sugar than reg potatoes….so kinda a twofy….lol

  3. Nopalitos taste like green beans. The prickly pear is a dark red and called tunas and taste semi sweet. We used to cut them down with a stick and rub them on the rock to take away the splinters. Then carefully peel them and eat a few. I was a young girl and my girlfriend and I would enjoy them. I ate nopalitos a few days ago and noticed my blood sugar stabilized. Nopalitos are native to south Texas and grow in late March and April. We try to cut down some to clean with a sharp knife and enjoy before they mature. They grow wild and some homes have some in the backyard but it is rare.

  4. I didn’t know you could make salsa with cactus! It doesn’t really grow around here. I’d love to try it though. Thanks for sharing on Wildcrafting Wednesdays!

    • Aliyanna - July 24, 2014

      We buy ours here in WA state at Mexican grocery stores. We don’t get many of the tunas…but a lot of the leaves…. I sometimes buy em by the box and make juice if someone is having gut issues….very healing.

  5. Elizabeth F - August 27, 2012

    So what kind of flavor does the cactus add? I am guessing you use it because it indigenous
    to your area? Do you scrounge it? Cultivate it? I have seen in cans here but see no reason to use as not fresh. If it was fresh in store I probably would not buy as not native to this area. We try not to buy fruits and vegetables not local or can’t grow.

    • Cactus does grow here really well. A lot of people cultivate it in their yards, but only decoratively. Most people I know do not eat it, even though they grow it! It can be purchased at area farmers markets and grocery stores, though.

      It’s one of those super foods that is really high in anti-oxidants and is being researched for it’s cancer fighting properties. Traditionally, it has been used in South America for that purpose. Many traditional healers use it. It’s soooo good for you.

      It has a texture and taste that would be very similar to okra, I suppose.

      • Elizabeth - September 8, 2012

        No, I had okra once on a trip to South, did not enjoy it. Did like grits though, with eggs and salt and pepper.

  6. This sound yummy! I didn’t realize you could eat the cactus “leaves”/paddles. I knew you could the tunas.

    Thanks for sharing this at the Carnival of home Preserving!

  7. knifty mama - August 24, 2012

    i totally could have donated the tomatoes!!

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