Fresh Salsa

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Who says you can’t enjoy fresh salsa in January? I used to can a big batch of salsa using vine-ripened tomatoes in the summer. But canning takes a TON of work – washing, par-boiling and dipping the tomatoes in ice-water to remove the skin, chopping the other ingredients, cooking all of this down, prepping, filling and processing the jars – it’s exhausting! I even went out into the fields to pick the tomatoes myself a couple of times. In the heat of the summer with flies and mosquitos to contend with, my canned salsa was good but not worth such extreme effort.

Honestly, who wants to wait for summer or work that hard when you can have fresh salsa throughout the year? Not me! So I decided to create my own recipe which doesn’t require canning.  Since cilantro, onions, jalapeño and garlic are readily available, this salsa is fresh and packed with flavor!

Canned tomatoes vary in quality. From my research, these are the best brands to use: Bianco DiNapoli, La Valle, San Merican (SMT), Cento San Marzano, Tuttoroso and 365 Whole Peeled. One interesting note is that all of these brands use citric acid and/or calcium chloride except Bianco DiNapoli. Some varieties include basil and others do not.

I use whichever canned tomatoes are on sale at my local grocery store because with all the other tasty ingredients, the tomato quality isn’t noticeable. Simple to prepare, this salsa really hits the spot. In fact, it’s so easy that I make up a batch every week. Be sure to have some salty tortilla chips on hand for taste-testing.

Serve my Fresh Salsa with your favorite Mexican food, on top of cottage cheese or a baked potato, with scrambled eggs or tortilla chips – or just eat it with a spoon!

Fresh Salsa

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 of an onion
  • 1 tsp jalapeño
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 1 can whole tomatoes
  • 1/2 T red wine vinegar
  • Juice of one lime
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Rough chop garlic, onion, jalapeño and cilantro. Add garlic, onion and jalapeño to a food processor fit with the sharp metal blade. Pulse 4-5 quick times, then add the cilantro. Pulse until everything is chopped finely, but not pureed! Add tomatoes (including juice) and pulse into small chunks. Add vinegar, lime juice, salt, garlic granules, onion powder, pepper, cumin and sugar. Pulse until salsa reaches desired consistency.

Root Notes

  • Recipe makes 4 cups of salsa.
  • Store in mason jars and eat within a week for ultimate freshness! 
  • This is a mild salsa. Add additional jalapeño for more kick.
  • It may be a stretch to call this fresh salsa without using fresh tomatoes. But hear me out…there are several other ‘fresh’ ingredients and you can make it ‘fresh’ as needed. Do I prefer using vine-ripened tomatoes with no citric acid or calcium chloride? You bet. That’s what Family Food Roots is all about…but with aging comes compromise. Canning salsa is something my body just won’t allow any more. I can whip this up in 5  minutes and feel happiness without pain. For me, the compromise is well worth it. After all, what’s a little citric acid among friends?



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