Recipe: Homemade Salsa

UPDATE:  Looking for a printer-friendly version of these instructions?  Click here for tomato blanching instructions and here for recipe instructions.

For those of you who are here for a quick recipe, here it is (if you'd like more detail, scroll down):

Daiquiri's Favorite Salsa
Fresh Cilantro: 1 bunch
Green Onion: 2-3 bunches
Fresh Minced Garlic: 10 cloves
Yellow Onion: 3 medium
Jalapeno Peppers: 5
Lime Juice: 2 Tbs
Salt: 1Tbs
Crushed Red Pepper: 2 tsp
Chili Powder: 2 tsp
Tomato Paste: 6 oz can
Tomato Sauce: 15 oz can
Whole Peeled Tomatoes: (2) 28 oz cans- drained
(or fresh from your garden)

1. Wash and chop all fresh veggies, place in large bowl
2. In a separate bowl, mix spices with tomato paste and sauce until mixed thoroughly.
3. If using fresh tomatoes: remove stem, blanch, peel, core.
4. Dice tomatoes.
5. Stir veggies, spice mixture, and tomatoes until mixed through.
6. Enjoy!
7. Come back here and tell me how you like it and that I'm your new best friend ;)

NOTE: This makes a pretty hot salsa! If you like it more medium to mild, I recommend adding the red pepper flakes and jalapenos at the very end, and only adding enough to suit your taste.

For those of you who are new to making salsa or blanching're in luck! I just made a batch of salsa today, and I took pictures so I can give you the play-by-play. Here we go...

You won't need this many tomatoes - this batch was HUGE! Please ignore the zucchini. We will not be adding zucchini to the salsa!

If you're using fresh tomatoes, you're going to need to prepare them. The preparation process is called "blanching". You'll need a big pot of boiling water, and a big pot or bowl of ice water:

The idea behind blanching is twofold...kill any unpleasant stuff that might have made a home on the outside of your tomatoes, and easily remove the skin. Here's how you do it:

1. Pluck off the green stem

2. Make a very small slit in the skin

3. Place tomato(es) in boiling water...but only until you see the skin start to peel. You do NOT want to cook the tomatoes. You only want to heat them up a bit. I make the slit in the skin so that it's obvious when the skin starts to come off.

4. AS SOON as the skin starts to get cracked looking, take the tomatoes out of the hot water and put them into the ice water. This cools the tomato and prevents it from getting too cooked.

5. If a tomato is a bit green, you'll want to leave it in the boiling water for an extra minute or so. Those greenish suckers never want to peel very easily.

As you can see from the above picture, the skin comes off pretty easily after blanching. Peel and core the tomatoes. I also like to cut them into quarters to make them easier for my Cuisinart later on:
Now, on to the other fresh veggies. Rinse all fresh veggies very well. I'm always amazed by the amount of dirt and gunk that comes off when I rinse...especially the cilantro!

Here's about how much of the green onion you'll use:
Cut off the root ends, and remove any loose outer layers. BTW...if you don't compost, I recommend it! This recipe alone will give you a good start!

Chop the green onions, place in bowl, and set aside.

Again, PLEASE remember to rinse the cilantro very well! Chop about half the bunch (stem and all). Past about the half-way mark, the stems start to get a bit tough. I just do half, and toss the rest in the compost pile. I chop the cilantro pretty coarsely. It looks like this:

Now for the yellow onion: Peel, and chop. I usually just chop it into 1/8ths or so, and let the fancy-schmansy machine to most of the work for me.

Peppers. Alright folks. Do any nose scratching and eye rubbing that must be done BEFORE handling the peppers! Believe me, you'll regret it if you do it with oil from these babies on your fingers. I warned you, so I don't want to hear any whining if you don't take my advice!

Rinse, remove the stem, and core the peppers. Chop very finely. The machine doesn't do a very good job with these, and you're not going to want giant bites of jalapeno in your salsa.

Okay, now we do the final chopping and put everything together! This is about the time my taste buds start twitching in anticipation...

If you have a food processor, now is a great time to dust it off and use it. If you don't have one, no problem. You can do this all by hand. Chop the yellow onions to about this consistency:

Place them in a large bowl and then start on the tomatoes. I like them about like this, but you can do them coarser or finer if you'd like:

Add the tomatoes to the bowl with the onions. I find that the tomato-onion ratio is one of the most critical factors in a good salsa (wow...what a geeky sounding sentence, did I really just say that?). Seriously though - it matters. Your onion-tomato mixture should look about like this:

Lookin' good. Now add the cilantro and green onions:

Now to the spices. Hint: this is one of my secrets to great salsa, so listen up! I add the tomato sauce and paste to the food processor with all the spices, the garlic, the lime juice, and the jalapenos. BLEND WELL. This will really get all those amazing flavors incorporated into the sauce. It's much easier to get a consistent salsa with even spices all the way through. Mixing these goodies into the big batch of tomatoes and onions is tough to do thoroughly.

Stir the sauce/spice mixture into your salsa. Mix very well. And then? Grab a chip and dig in! All your work is made SO worth it with that first bite.

Just look at the giant pot of salsa I made today! As a point of reference, this is my "chicken soup pot". When I make chicken soup, I can fit an entire bunch of celery, 5 pounds of carrots, about a gallon of water, and an ENTIRE chicken in this pot! It's a BIG pot!

I just don't even have the words to tell you how happy this makes me:

And one final note...I recommend using the salsa fresh. Keep it refrigerated, and use within a couple of months. However, if you make more than you think you'll be able to use, it also cans very well. The flavor and consistency change a bit, but it's still delicious. Check your favorite cookbook for canning instructions :)


PS. One of my favorite ways to use fresh salsa is as a seasoning for taco meat. Take one of these 12 oz jars, add it to a pound of browned burger or chicken, and simmer until a thick consistency. Your house will smell like heaven, and you'll probably eat until you nearly burst (like I do)!

Here from for WFMW? Stay and look around if you'd like. Otherwise, head on back for more great tips. Thanks for stopping by!

UPDATE: Click here for the printer-friendly eHow version of this recipe

UPDATE: Click here for the printer-friendly eHow version of the tomato blanching process

Anonymous –   – (9/30/2008 11:09:00 PM)  

Thanks for the wonderful salsa recipe! I have been fiddling with it for the last couple of weeks or so. Salsa is criminally expensive here, but the fixing are sinfully cheap. Obviously I should make it myself!
Thanks for the tutorial!

Rebecca  – (9/30/2008 11:26:00 PM)  

That looks like a delicious and HUGE batch of salsa. I haven't tried making it with canned tomatoes and tomato paste in addition to fresh tomatoes. You say you prefer to keep it in the fridge and use it up . . . did you do that with all those jars, or did you end up canning it? I haven't canned before. Can you freeze it, too?

You may be interested in our blog carnival over at the Green Baby Guide: Thrifty Green Thursday. This post is just what we're looking for!

bristowmom  – (10/01/2008 07:11:00 AM)  

I'm so useless in the kitchen. But your recipes make me think maybe I should try to remedy that.

Daiquiri  – (10/01/2008 07:47:00 AM)  

Rebecca- I've canned it before, and it was delicious. But I prefer the taste of fresh salsa, so I didn't can it this time. I just put it in the jars because I didn't have a better storage solution! Plus, it's just so pretty in those jars :)

I've never frozen it, but I think I'll try it with one of these jars. If it works, that would be a great alternative to canning.

Anonymous –   – (10/01/2008 08:42:00 AM)  

Alright Martha.... lol! Could I just bring some really yummy chips and join you all for some salsa? Or do you make your own chips?

Thanks for the recipe... When I get together with a certain sister-n-law we always end up in the kitchen after being out in her garden! Passing this recipe on to her and the other salsa lovers in my family!


Rebecca  – (10/01/2008 09:21:00 AM)  

Thanks for the tips. I really want to try this and have jar after jar of salsa. . . . Now I have to rustle up some tomatoes!

Audra Krell  – (10/01/2008 02:14:00 PM)  

This is a fantastic post with incredible pictures that I really enjoyed. It was so kind of you to go into all the detail.

the dawnster  – (9/15/2011 01:36:00 PM)  

This recipe popped up on my Google search for a salsa recipe for canning. It looks delicious and will help me preserve the romas from my garden this year.
Any tips for canning? Should I make alterations to the recipe for the amount that I am putting into the hot water bath?
Thanks for the beautiful tutorial - I can't wait to make this!

Claire Hessing  – (8/18/2013 10:09:00 AM)  

About how many fresh tomatoes do you use per batch?

Patti –   – (12/25/2014 01:49:00 AM)  

We could never be able to finish that much salsa within a couple of months as stated, nor do I have enough room to store it without home canning it. When you have home canned your salsa in the past have you added lemon juice or vinegar? If so, how much? Did you use the water bath method (and for how long) or have to pressure can (@ what pressure and for how long)? How many times have you canned your salsa?

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