Picante Sauce

Although picante often means “hot”, this is a mildly pungent yet stimulating sauce. Chunky and provocative, it will remind you of the Chili Sauce your mother may have canned years ago. Serve it aside your favourite meat or rice dish, or use it as a dipping sauce for chips and seafood. Option: If desired, purée the vegetables to make your own enchilada sauce to spread inside burritos and quesadillas.


  • 7 cups (1750 ml) coarsely chopped tomatoes, about 5 lbs (2.25 kg), 20 medium
  • 1- 1/2 cups (375 ml) coarsely chopped Spanish onion, 1 medium
  • 1- 1/2 cups (375 ml) coarsely chopped green pepper, 1 medium
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) finely chopped jalapeño peppers, about 4 large
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup (250 ml) malt vinegar
  • 1 can (5 1/2 oz/156 ml) tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) pickling salt
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) coriander
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) cumin


  • Place 8 clean 250 or 236 ml mason jars on a rack in a boiling water canner. Cover jars with water and heat to a simmer (180°F/82°C). Set screw bands aside. Keep jars hot until ready to use.

  • Preheating Bernardin® lids is not advised. The sealing compound used for our home canning lids performs better at room temperature than it does pre-heated in simmering water (180°F). Simply wash lids in hot, soapy water, dry, and set aside until needed. Preheating can lead to less vacuum being achieved during water bath canning, and to buckle failures during pressure canning.

  • Blanch, peel, seed and coarsely chop tomatoes; measure 7 cups (1750 ml) into a large stainless steel saucepan.

  • Add prepared onion, green pepper, jalapeño peppers, garlic, vinegar, tomato paste, pickling salt and red pepper flakes; mix well.

  • For enchilada sauce: Purée entire mixture in a food processor, in small batches. Return purée to saucepan.

  • Stirring occasionally, bring mixture to a boil over medium heat; boil gently, uncovered, 45 minutes. Add coriander and cumin; continue to boil until desired consistency is reached, about 15 minutes for picante sauce or 30 minutes for enchilada sauce. Remove from heat.

  • Ladle sauce into a hot jar to within 1/2 inch (1 cm) of top of jar (headspace). Using nonmetallic utensil, remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if required, by adding more sauce. Wipe jar rim removing any food residue. Centre sealing disc on clean jar rim. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight. Return filled jar to rack in canner. Repeat for remaining sauce.

  • When canner is filled, ensure that all jars are covered by at least one inch (2.5 cm) of water. Cover canner and bring water to full rolling boil before starting to count processing time. At altitudes up to 1000 ft (305 m), process –boil filled jars – 20 minutes.*

  • When processing time is complete, remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars without tilting and place them upright on a protected work surface. Cool upright, undisturbed 24 hours; DO NOT RETIGHTEN screw bands.

  • After cooling check jar seals. Sealed discs curve downward and do not move when pressed. Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars. Store screw bands separately or replace loosely on jars, as desired. Label and store jars in a cool, dark place. For best quality, use home canned foods within one year.