Saturday, June 28, 2008


(sorry about the bad picture!)

I love making my own salsa, especially since I now grow a lot of the ingredients myself.

My Patio Princess tomatoes have kept us well-supplied with salsa this year, and with what I planted for next year, I should have enough to make salsa and homemade tomato sauce:

Those are my baby tomato plants in the bottom right-hand corner, and the big plants along the left side are my peppers - another delicious addition! I have green bell, banana, jalepeno and cayenne. The banana and bell peppers are pretty mild, but we tried our first jalepeno in our latest salsa batch. Jalepenos are funny because plants vary in their level of heat. They can be very mild to pretty darn hot (although nothing like what Dee's husband grows!) I'm glad I grow my own now, because I know the heat level of that particular plant.

And lemma tell ya, I don't know if it's because they're home-grown, but mine are hot! We had three fairly small peppers, so I decided to put them all in. We actually had to wait until more tomatoes ripened to add to the salsa batch before we could eat it! When something is too spicy for Mike, you know it's hot!

My good friend Jennifer asked me about making salsa, so I wanted to share how incredibly easy it is to make your own. It's also much better than the canned stuff you get at the grocery store. Salsa is great because you can put lots of different things in it, and as little or as much as you like. You need to start with 4 or 5 good-sized tomatoes. You need to decide beforehand whether you want your salsa to be chunky or smooth. If you want it chunky, just chop all the ingredients as fine as you want. If you want it smooth, you will need to put all the ingredients through a food processor (you could use a blender, too). Just a few pulses will do. Chop up the ingredients in rough, large chunks before doing this. Now you need to think about what else you want to add to your salsa. Here is a list to get you started, add as many or as few as you like.

  • One small-to-medium onion (I think red onions are delicious in salsa!)
  • One bell pepper (any color)
  • One pepper of any other type, including banana, chile, cayenne....just be sure you know what heat level you're dealing with!
  • One jalepeno pepper (to me, salsa with a jalepeno tastes more authentic; see note above)
  • 1/2 Cup corn (either frozen or cut off the cob fresh. If you're processing the ingredients, add this afterwards).
  • 1/2 Cup black beans (again, add after processing)
  • 1/2 a zuchinni (I learned this trick from a sneaky mother whose son hates zukes but loves salsa).
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (a must in my house!)

That's all I can think of for now. If you have any other ingredients you add, I'd love to hear about them! You might find your salsa to be very watery, depending on how juicy your tomatoes were. If it is too juicy for your taste, you can always strain it. Catch the juice and freeze it for the next time you make soup - it will blow your mind!

There is one more step that is completely optional, and that is cooking the salsa. Some people like to do this if they are serving the salsa immediately. Cooking helps the flavors meld together. Taste it and see if you think it's necessary; if you think it's fine the way it is, then just enjoy! If you decide to cook it, do it in a saucepan on the stove over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. If you put the salsa in the refrigerator overnight, this will also meld the flavors.

Try out your salsa-making skills - you won't want to go back once you do!!

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