Let me start by saying that I love salsa. It can be a wide variety of things with different techniques, ingredients, and styles. I have experimented a bit with different versions of salsa and wanted to document a few key ways to make it. First off, Pico De Gallo is delicious, but not what I am going for. Pico is with fresh, uncooked, ingredients. I am looking for a cooked salsa that I can can (in a jar) for future use. Fun fact, salsa means “sauce” in spanish!
I am not going to do a lot of ingredient variation in my experiments. I have a set of things that make a good salsa and want to focus more on the salsa making techniques than the ingredients. Specifically how the vegetables are chopped or milled, and how they are cooked. Texture is an important part of eating, and the process of cutting or smashing could release different flavors. Similarly, the cooking method can impart or alter flavors. I am going to break up the different techniques into a table and slowly check off each version, documenting as I go along.
There are really three ways of getting this done as I see it. Chopping by hand, food processor, and food mill. The hand method can provide select sizing of ingredients, and not “mush” anything along the way. It is very slow, and I like a finely chopped salsa. That leaves chopping ingredients via a food processor and a food mill. I have used the food processor with good results, but it can liquify the ingredients too much sometimes. The mill will be new to me, but promises consistency. I will be using this attachment to process the ingredients.
The raw ingredients have to be cooked. I have used two different techniques to cook them. First is to chuck everything into a pot and cook it all down. Easy, effective, and it mingles the flavors. This works well for canning, because you have to heat everything up enough to can it safely. The other way is to sear the ingredients on a hot cast iron skillet before combining. I have done this with out any cook-down, and it yielded great results! This would still require some time in the pot before canning.
I made a 2×2 salsa matrix to show how the combination plays out. Think of it as some sort of salsa round robin challenge. May the odds be ever in your favor!