Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Homemade Sofrito

In every Puerto Rican home you will definitely find a spicy recipe that gives all of their Spanish dishes that exquisite Caribbean taste. This spice that is often used is called sofrito. Sofrito is a mixture of fresh red & green peppers, garlic, cilantro, ajises, & onions. This recipe has been passed down from one generation to another for hundreds of years and it is the most essential ingredient in making most Puerto Rican dish.

Today I spent my entire morning making sofrito. I only make it 3 times a year and I always end up giving some away to my family. Sofrito is always kept in the freezer and if you pour it into ice cube trays, you can use as many cubes as you like for any dish your cooking. Sofrito is mostly used in spicing up meats, soups, sauces, Spanish rice & beans, and in any dish that requires a little more spice to make it just right. Like I said you can freeze it in ice trays to use 1 or 2 cube at a time or you can use  freezer jars to store large quantities. It keeps well in the freezer for 1 year...or you can keep it in the refrigerator in a tight closed container or glass jar. It keeps well in the refrigerator for about 3 to 4 months. Since I can a lot,  I also can my sofrito and it keeps well for 2 years. Today I am showing you how to can sofrito. If you don't want to can your sofriot, then just freeze or refrigerate it. Today I am showing you how to make enough to fill 4 large quart canning jars. 

You will need a food processor like mine (below) or a blender in order to make sofrito.

You will need a tall pot for the jars to boil in & a large cooking pot to heat up the sofrito before canning.

You will also need four large quart canning jars. Make sure the jars and lids are washed well before boiling them. Then stand them upwards inside your pot and put them to boil with the lid on for 45 minutes to steralize them.

While the jars are boiling now you can wash all your ingredients.
 garlic (3 pounds).

5 large red peppers, cleaned from seeds and cut into pieces...I used 2 large jars of red peppers.

4 bunches of cilantro...washed well and cut in not use the long stems.

5 green peppers, cleaned from seeds and cut into pieces.

1 lb. of ajises...these are small green peppers found in most Spanish stores. They are not hot. They must be clean well from seeds and stem.

2 bag of yellow onions, peeled, washed & cut in quarters

After all your spices are washed & cut now you are ready to make sofrito.

Pu into the food processor a few of your ingredients.

Just like this picture below., blend well your spices.

Once all of your ingredients are all blended, then put them into a large cooking pot, simmer them for 20 minutes on med. heat, then lower your heat down to low. Once your jars are already sterilized,  take one jar at a time and put it on top of a large plate. Do not touch the lip of the jar...use a pair of jar handlers to take them out of the boiling water. With a large cooking spoon pour slowly your hot sofrito mixture into the jar, cap the jar with the sterilized lid and tighten it well. Then place the jar back into the tall pot and repeat this procedure until all 4 jars are done. Then boil the jars with the lid on for 60 minutes. Like the picture below. The jars have to be completely covered for them to seal well.  

Then once the jars are done boiling, gently take them out without dropping or tilting them. If this happens you will have to re-boil them again because the seal will break from the fall. When you take them out of the pot place them on top of a folded towel, let them cool off without disturbance until they pop. You should hear them make a popping noise, that means they sealed properly. To check if they sealed properly just press the lid down and if it doesn't go up & down then it is properly sealed. If the lid does go up & down then you will have to re-boil them again for another 55 minutes. .  

Once the jars have cooled down then place the date you made them on your jars,
now they are ready to be stored away in your cupboards. 

From Millie's Caribbean Vegan Kitchen


  1. Wishing I lived next door. ;-) That sounds amazing.

  2. Thanks Julie, it does require some work & time in preparing all the stuff to make it but it sure feels good once its done.

  3. Oh, my goodness, this looks so good! I have three questions for you - About how many onions do you use? I don't buy mine in bags? Do you boil the jars with the pot lid on, too, or just the jar lids on? And, how long usually does it take for the jars to make the popping sound when they are on the towel? Thanks so much!

  4. thank you Mama for your lovely comment.

    answer to your questions:

    1. for this batch amount you only need 3 lbs. of onions.
    2. to boil the jars take the lids off before boiling them.
    3. the popping noise usually starts once the jars are cooling down from the heat...some may pop and some may not, you'll just have to check them by pressong down the center of the lid to make sure it does not go up or down. If it does you will have to do the procedure over. If you don't want to can them, just freeze the sofrito in plastic containers or in ice cube trays for easy access.

    Enjoy and let me know what happens. oxoxoxoxo

  5. This looks great! I just happily discovered your blog on Two Vegan Boys.

  6. Thanks, Millie. So, the way I understand it, once the sofrito is in the jars, we secure them with lids, make sure the jars are covered with water, and boil them for 60 minutes. I think I got it. I really want to get started on doing more canning. It's something that the women in my family do, but I haven't gotten in the habit of it, except for a few things.

  7. Thank you-thank you-thank you for posting this and for demystifying sofrito. I always see the Goya jars for sale, but nothing compares to homemade, right? I can (pun intended) make my own now, thanks to you. I might adjust (Half or quarter) your recipe since there's only me :)


  9. Millie, I am so grateful that you posted this on your blog because this is the only recipe that involves canning sofrito on the internet! Thank you so much. I have a few questions for you.

    1. My sofrito (cuban style) is almost the same only with a few changes. I add recao, salt, and olives. Does this change the method of canning ie: water bath vs pressure canning?

    2. I would like to can the pint jars instead of the quarts, does the cooking time change?

    3. How do you know if you didn't can the recipe right 6 months down the road? Money is tight so I'd like to give some as Christmas gifts to the family.

  10. Annoymous,

    You can can the sofrito in the pints with the same method as the quarts. You will know if you can them right when you hear the lid pop as they are cooling and there's a dented on the top of the lid. If the lid did not pop while cooling, then the lid will move up & down while pressing it with your thumb. That means it did not seal properly. When this happens, you can either put that jar in the fridge and use it for cooking before 3 months or empty it out, reheat the sofrito and re-boil the jars to redo the entire method all over again. Make sure the sofito is hot and the jars & lids are very hot also before closing the jar.

  11. Thank you so much Millie!!

  12. Hi Millie, I'm looking for a vegan/vegetarian pasteles recipe. Do you have any at hand? Or can you redirect me to someone that has a tasty vegetarian filling for the pasteles?
    Thanks in advance!

  13. you can add any veggies you like to the pasteles. be creative and think vegan...also I have on my blog pastelillos. Millie

  14. Hi Millie. I love your website and your recipe for homemade Sofrito looks absolutely delicious. I noticed that you mentioned you can and was wondering if you sell your Sofrito or if you know of anyone who sells homemade Sofrito. I would love to purchase some. Thanks in advance.


  15. Hi, how long are the jars good for unopened? And do you have to cook the sofrito first before canning or can you cold pack?

    1. anytime you can anything it has to be hot before pouring it into the sterial hot jars. BRING THE SOFRITO TO A BOIL THEN IT CAN BE CANNED. It will stay good to use for 1 year.

  16. I am going back to Miami in a few days and can not wait to make this with my mother in law!! :) I live in Kodiak and they do not sell some of these ingredients, so I feel blessed to have found your blog. Thank you kindly for sharing.

  17. I cabbed the sofrito and processed in a pressure caner. I added culantro from Puerto Rico. Came out very good but I noticed a metallic odor,Why?

    1. I have never canned with a presser cooker but that may be why your sofrito has a different taste. I have been canning for over 25 years and my sofrito has never had any kind of weird odor or taste odor.


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