Adventures in Salsa Making (#47)
When Jeff and I first bought our house, we talked about growing a salsa garden in the backyard. Well, we just finished our fifth summer (!) in our little brick bungalow, and we (and by “we” I mean “I”) finally did it: made salsa with ingredients from our own garden. This was our first year for homegrown tomatoes as well as bell peppers. I would like to try growing onions and garlic sometime, but perhaps when we have a bigger yard.
My two tomato plants yielded 6.5 pounds of juicy, roma-style goodness for my salsa making this past weekend. I didn’t follow a specific recipe, but looked at several blogs and recipe sites to cull together the basic proportions with which to start.
Here’s my basic outline:
6.5 lbs. tomatoes
1 cup red bell peppers, chopped
1 1/4 cup green bell peppers, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 whole jalapeños
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cumin
1 1/2 cups cilantro or 1 large bunch
1/2 cup lime juice
ground black pepper
First, I blanched the tomatoes and removed the skin since most people I read suggested it. I’m usually a skin-on type of girl, but I didn’t want gross bits of rolled up tomato skin in my salsa.
Next, I quartered the tomatoes and disposed of the seeds and nasty innards (the main reason I despised tomatoes as a child — I have texture issues). I didn’t bother chopping the tomatoes more than that since I was just going to throw them in the blender. The goal was for restaurant-style salsa rather than chunky.
Then I chopped the peppers, onion, and garlic. I did not want to risk getting hot pepper oils on my skin, but didn’t have plastic or rubber gloves. Instead, I improvised with a sandwich baggie.
I blended the tomatoes (on pulse) by themselves first. Jeff came through at this point and said it looked like baby food! I began to doubt my success. Once I had a good tomato puree, I added the spices and chopped veggies and gave it a few quick pulses — just enough to mix all the ingredients together and get a finer dice. Lastly, I mixed in just over half of my chopped cilantro.
I wasn’t sure if I should declare the salsa done at this point, or if I should let it simmer on the stove for awhile. So I decided to experiment and do half and half.
A taste test of the fresh (uncooked) salsa at this juncture revealed it needed time for the flavors to meld. So into the fridge it went. When we later pulled both cooked and uncooked out for their side-by-side comparison, our verdict was unanimous: cooked for the win! Unfortunately, after sitting for awhile, the flavor of the cilantro was greatly diminished. If you like cilantro in your salsa, I recommend adding it right before serving. Personally, I agree with Pioneer Woman: the more cilantro, the better.
Next time, I will add more hot peppers. We like salsa with some kick to it… we usually buy medium from the store. This stuff didn’t have a lot of kick, but it did leave a satisfying after burn. Unfortunately for our heat-loving taste buds, this burn diminished after some fridge time.