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Old August 28, 2009   #1
ContainerTed
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Default Almost Homemade Salsa

Ted's Almost Homemade Salsa/Sauce

I kept remembering back a bunch of years to the time when Frito Lay and some others made little tins of picante sauce. It was mostly sauce, but had tiny bits of stuff in it. It came in mild and hot and was delicious with tortilla chips. Now, everything is SALSA and megachunkie with large pieces of veggies. Most of what I call the MODERN store-bought stuff is bitter or just unsweet - totally unpleasant to my taste buds.

So, I decided (as a lot of you have) to make my own. I looked for recipes, but none seemed to fit the bill for that little tin of picante taste.

So, in total frustration, I decided to experiment on my own. I knew what I wanted to end up with, and here's what I put together a few days ago.

Down at the Walmart store in the canning area, they have packets of "mrs Wages" Salsa and Sauce dry mix to which you only have to add tomatoes and vinegar. Here's what I did with one of those Salsa packets and it's scrumptious.

As stated on the dry mix packet, I put about 6 or so pounds of tomatoes thru the tomato mill and into a 5 quart pot on the stove. Immediately added:

2 tsps salt (your choice of type)
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp sugar (or to your taste)

Reduced by 30%, this yielded about 2.5 quarts and was about the thickness of tomato soup out of the can. The tomatoes were a combination of the many varieties I had on the counter. I simply chose the ripest ones - Reds, Pinks, Purples, yellows, multi's, large, small, etc.

To this base, I added the following:
1 Pckt Dry Salsa Mix
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp Minced Garlic
1/2 Tsp Cummin
1/2 Cup Yellow Onion (finely diced)
1/2 Cup Tomatillo (finely diced)
1/2 Cup each of Red, Yellow, Orange, and Green Sweet Peppers (finely diced)
1/2 Cup White Vinegar
Additional Salt, Pepper, and sugar to taste.

I think you can add any peppers you want, but the mix I started with contained dehydrated chile and jalapeno peppers and was medium hot - even though it was labeled as "MILD". I chose a mix of pepper colors for eye appeal and used bells and tapers - whatever was there. The mix has other dehydrated goodies in it as well.

At this point, I began reducing it further to get it really thick. Got tired of reducing and added enough corn starch that I could get slick temporary peaks on the mixture. Tried it and it was pretty good while still hot. Let it cool and stuck it in the fridge. When it got cold, it was like the flavor just "flowered". It also thickened up more and a chip stuck in was fully coated when drawn back out, and it had some of the goodies on it.

There's a lot of folks who see some of these recipes and know they're for cooks of greater experience. This is one that anybody can make and it is easier than trying to find all the extra spices and such.

Ted
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Old August 29, 2009   #2
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Ted -- Your salsa sounds delicious. I think I saw that mix at our WalMart. Is it in the canning section? Or maybe that was a different one.

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Old August 29, 2009   #3
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IMO, you don't need that many additions. I actually helped create and run a salsa and marinade company for a while. That means I have strong opinions but must know very little (since I'm in a very different line of work...)

Anyhoo, my homemade salsa fresca

2-3 ripe tomatoes. hand diced with peels and skins left on (in a hurry, food process)
2-3 cloves garlic diced (or in the food processor)
1 small onion diced (or in the processor)
1 jalapeno pepper diced (or processed)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 lemon juiced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 pepper

mix and enjoy.

I only use sugar if it's wintertime and I'm using cardboardish store bought tomatoes. There is something about handchopped ingredients that I also like. It's a PITA and requires a very sharp knife, but somehow the result is perfectly mixed. If I feel it's a bit too juicy, I won't hesitate to drain the tomato dices before mixing. (Just drop the diced pieces into a suspended strainer as you finish the chopping task.)

Just sharing. Half the fun, IMO, is trying new stuff.
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Old August 29, 2009   #4
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Sherry, found this one over by the canning jars. It's mrs. Wages in a dark brownish red soft package. They have both a salsa and a sauce packet.

I made another batch last night and used only Cherokee Green tomatoes and Tomatillo Cisineros with all peppers still green - Apelsin, Jalapeno, Red Bell, and a couple Sweet Banana. The sauce came out with a somewhat fruitier taste, and was the color of the Cherokee Green with a slight amber blush about it. The taste was still excellent. This one can be served with pride on St. Patricks Day. I'll have to freeze some Cherokee Greens to save for that.

Next, I'm going to gather up enough Azoychka, Golden Cherokee, and some yellow cherries to get enough to try another color. This recipe is working out very well. Great taste and great eye appeal with the ability to control the color without using food coloring. If you have the sauce base prepared, the total prep time can be as little as the time it takes to bring everything to temp and cook the tomatillos and peppers a bit - depending on how much crunch you want.

Structure, I'm sure your recipe is quite tasty, but I was trying to recreate something I remember from 30 years ago. Maybe you should give mine a try. I'll try yours sooner or later. We're big on salsa here at the Bucket Farm.

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Old August 29, 2009   #5
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I might try a little "doctoring", but personally, I like the Mrs. Wages done exactly as it suggests on the package with just tomatoes. Quick, easy, wonderful. My wife makes wonderful pico de gallo, but for a prepared salsa, we're Mrs. Wages fans.
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Old August 29, 2009   #6
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Ted, you might want to consider substituting 2 TBS of cumin seeds in place of the ground cumin. The seeds give a more pure cumin taste when bitten, while ground cumin tends to meld into the other flavors.

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Old August 29, 2009   #7
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Ted, I buy those little tins you speak of. They are labelled under Mexican names and easy to find around here. Look in your mexican food aisle. They sound like exactly what you are talking about. I buy a tin or two when I make tacos. They are a bit watery, but fresh tasting and have a good amount of heat depending on what heat range you purchase.

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Old August 29, 2009   #8
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Jeff, it's a taste thing I was searching for and that recipe nailed it as best as my aging taste buds can remember. The main thing is that I'm happy with it. Salsa's and Picante's literally have thousands of variations of the recipes used.

Tom, I think the cummin may be a primary key to the flavor I was looking for. The other key ingredient seemed to be the distilled white vinegar I used. It was actually Walmart's house brand. I'm going to tweak a bit here and there to see if any refinement is warranted. I'll try the cummin seed and see what happens.

Duane, I've tried a few of those tins. We have a large Hispanic population here and the stores have well stocked cultural aisles. It's good for finding some of the ingredients for traditional dishes and add authenticity to a dish. My problem there is that of the 5 different ones I've tried, none are an exact match. But I'll keep looking at any different ones I find. Ingredient lists are very helpful.

Red, Golden Yellow, and Green Salsas. You just gotta think outside the box cause sometimes you find a nugget.

Ted - who is off to the store to get more Nacho Doritos and plain Tortilla Chips.
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Old August 30, 2009   #9
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Ted,
Does the salsa mix give canning instructions?
I have used the Mrs Wages pickle mixes and pasta sauces. Both are very good and I usually make enough to be able to can some. I'm going to look up the salsa mix next grocery run.
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Old August 30, 2009   #10
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Barbee, yes they do. BWB or Fridge, the package has recommended times and storage limits.

The flavor from this recipe must hit a nerve with some folks. My son took some over to a girlfriend's cookout and now she and a couple of her friends want to BUY some from me.

"Holy Shades of Paul Newman, Batman". I told him to tell her that "I'm Retired".

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Old August 31, 2009   #11
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All i can say is YUMMY!!!!!!!!
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Old September 4, 2009   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Structure View Post
IMO, you don't need that many additions. I actually helped create and run a salsa and marinade company for a while. That means I have strong opinions but must know very little (since I'm in a very different line of work...)

Anyhoo, my homemade salsa fresca

2-3 ripe tomatoes. hand diced with peels and skins left on (in a hurry, food process)
2-3 cloves garlic diced (or in the food processor)
1 small onion diced (or in the processor)
1 jalapeno pepper diced (or processed)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 lemon juiced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 pepper

mix and enjoy.

I only use sugar if it's wintertime and I'm using cardboardish store bought tomatoes. There is something about handchopped ingredients that I also like. It's a PITA and requires a very sharp knife, but somehow the result is perfectly mixed. If I feel it's a bit too juicy, I won't hesitate to drain the tomato dices before mixing. (Just drop the diced pieces into a suspended strainer as you finish the chopping task.)

Just sharing. Half the fun, IMO, is trying new stuff.
HEY!!!! That's EXACTLY like my homemade salsa...except I use:
  • lime juice instead of lemon juice
  • vidalia (or my home grown walla-walla) onions
  • KOSHER salt (I can't stand the iodized stuff anymore)
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Old September 4, 2009   #13
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OK, I found this mix at the grocery store yesterday. It says on the packet you can use it in a hot water bath, or freeze it. Just wondered if anyone had tried freezing salsa and what did the texture come out as when you thawed it?
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Old September 4, 2009   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barbee View Post
OK, I found this mix at the grocery store yesterday. It says on the packet you can use it in a hot water bath, or freeze it. Just wondered if anyone had tried freezing salsa and what did the texture come out as when you thawed it?
I'll let you know tomorrow. I have 5 quarts frozen so far, but I'm going to thaw one out in the fridge tonight for use tomorrow.

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Old September 5, 2009   #15
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Thanks! I'll be looking forward to your thoughts.
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