Friday, September 16, 2011

A Tale of Two Salsas

It was the best of tomatoes, it was the worst of tomatoes....okay, not really.  I just couldn't resist!

Yesterday, I asked people on my Facebook page for good tomato salsa recipes.  I quickly noticed there seems to be two schools of thought when it comes to making salsa--those that advocate chopping up everything into little, tasty bits and those that think it should just be thrown in a blender or food processor after being cut into large chunks.  I decided to try both, since I'd never made tomato salsa before, so I wasn't sure what camp I was in.

For the first batch, I used something resembling an actual recipe (found below).  It was an apple-tomato salsa.  I figured it would appeal to the same tastebuds that find my favorite peach salsa wonderful.  For the second batch, I just peeled my remaining tomatoes, removed the seeds and pulp, removed the seeds from my assorted peppers, peeled an onion, and threw them all into a blender along with my chosen seasonings (honey, apple cider vinegar, garlic, cumin, red pepper, sea salt, and oregano, if I remember right).

If the only thing I was looking at was level of effort required, the second salsa would definitely be a winner, since it was a lot easier just to throw things in the blender and let it do the work.  If effort was how I made such decisions, however, I wouldn't have even needed an experiment like this though, since I'd just do the easiest thing of all and not make salsa at all, just go to the store and buy it like "normal" people.

The second thing I noticed was visual appeal.  When I was pouring the second salsa out of the blender, it looked more like vomit than salsa.  I decided to cook it for 10 minutes before canning, since that seemed to be the thing to do, based on the zillions of salsa recipes I looked at before tackling my own salsa experiments.  After cooking, it did seem a lot more like salsa and less nasty, but the first batch was still prettier. 

Next, I tasted both of them.  Since they weren't the same recipe, I wasn't looking at overall flavor, but they were both delicious.  I was just interested in texture and eating experience for this test.  I was still undecided after this.  The first, chunky salsa was more fun for my mouth since it had different flavors with every bite.  The second clung to the chip better, so that was a plus as well.

After my experiment, I decided I don't have a clear preference.  It really depends on the type of flavor experience I'm looking for.  With just a generic tomato and pepper based salsa, the blending method is fine, since it is a lot less work and doesn't adversely affect the finished product.  For most salsas I really enjoy, like the apple-tomato salsa, the peach salsa that I still have to buy since I still don't have a recipe for it, or my black bean and corn salsa, the chopping method is necessary to give it that multi-flavored salsa experience that I like so much.

Apple-Tomato Salsa

3 cups tomatoes, peeled, diced, seeds and pulp removed
3 cups apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1 bell pepper, seeds removed and diced
2 chili peppers, seeds removed and diced
2 hot peppers, seeds removed and diced
Don't know what it is, but this is what I used for "hot pepper"
1 red onion, diced
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Boil and stir 10 minutes.  Ladle into hot canning jars.  Adjust two-piece caps.  Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.


  1. You are the proud owner of a white habenero pepper! These are considered a delicacy, are relatively easy to grow, and have a very high scoville rating. A regular "hot" banana pepper rates in at about 500 scovilles. Your beauty there will rate somewhere between 100,000 and 350,000 scovilles. So use them sparingly. LOL... If you do a google search you'll find lots of pics and information on both the peppers and the scale.

  2. That would explain a lot. lol Thanks.

  3. Bet your wishing you had that info a bit earlier. hehehe

  4. You're most welcome! Be glad it wasn't a Scotch Bonnet. Those are picked with gloves on, and you don't ever EVER peel them or cut them in a closed room. They can rate up near a million scovilles, and the juice can actually burn your skin! I never did understand why people would want such things. The spiciest pepper I like to grow is a Hungarian paprika pepper, which is pretty mild (about 300 scovilles), and it gets milder when dried (which is how I like it).