Hot Mama Salsa (with fermenting instructions)

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I make salsa year round.  Weekly, in fact.  That sounds a little “extra-seasonal,” I’m afraid, but if there is one thing you must know about me is that I tend towards being a realist rather than a purist.  So, I break a few local/seasonal “rules.”  

Cooking with cilantro in all seasons is one of them.  I can’t do without it.  Cilantro grows best in cooler weather, so I’m a little perplexed as to how it became a staple in Tex-Mex food in the first place, but being 100% pure Texan, I’m afraid it has a permanent place in my palate.  That being said, I don’t break every seasonal rule.  Fresh tomatoes only in season, canned (or otherwise preserved) out of season.  No exceptions.  People who don’t like tomatoes were probably raised on cold, refrigerated, tasteless tomatoes.  Who would like a grainy pink little tennis ball for food anyway?

This salsa is scrumptious this time of year.  Tomatoes are starting to recover again from the extreme Texas heat, and peppers are at their peak!  The purist can leave out the cilantro, or even try dried coriander seed, but the results won’t be the same.  To me, they taste entirely different. 

The beauty of this recipe is that it is always a little different depending on what’s available, but the essence remains the same.  I’ve used fresh large tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, and canned tomatoes.  My favorite onion to use here is white, but I’ve used red, tiny bulb, and yellow onions all with success.

You should know that a friend once gave me her piano in exchange for this recipe.  It’s really true.  You should also know that I would have given it to her without the exchange, but she never asked.  And I do love the piano. 

Note:  A food processor is a must, unless you are a very patient person and don’t mind standing for hours mincing vegetables.

Hot Mama Salsa

Start layering the following into a full-sized food processor bowl:

1 large white onion, or in-season onion equivalent, cut into chunks

2 (or more) or more fresh peppers, serrano is my favorite

1 large handful of cilantro

3 -4 large tomatoes, chunked (or 2 pints cherry, or 6-8 small tomatoes, or 28 oz can whole tomatoes) Just take your fingers and quickly scoop or shake out the seeds.  Not necessary for cherry sized.

2 big shakes of Lawry’s seasoned salt

Pulse the food processor until minced and large onion chunks are gone.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Occasionally, I will add lime juice or vinegar to balance out the acidity.

Fermenting instructions:  Use regular sea salt, iodine-free instead of Lawry’s and salt until it’s too salty to be tasty, but not where you would have to spit it out, usually around 1 heaping tablespoon.  If using whey to ferment, use less salt.  Let sit out on the counter for 3 days or so in a jar with a well-fitting lid, and then refrigerate.  It should have a nice tangy feel to your tongue when ready.

The proof.


About Jill Thaxton

Wife, mom, writer, cook, professional Googler. I can't seem to narrow my interests to one topic, but love to ponder people, culture, faith, health, food, relationships, and science. I specialize in minutiae. Oh, and I will forever regret quitting piano, in case you were interested.
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3 Responses to Hot Mama Salsa (with fermenting instructions)

  1. Hey Jill… can you alter the recipe to can it? Sounds yummy, but I’d want to be able to can the salsa. Worst case, for me, I’ll just can extra tomatoes and use those.

  2. Jill Thaxton says:

    Julie, I would love to can but have never felt confident in my sterilizing skills! I think I would always be wondering…

    You could can this, but I think it would taste very different. Cilantro loses its flavor when cooked, and the bite of fresh onion makes it taste so fresh. Nevertheless, I would rather eat my own canned salsa than use jarred store-bought.

    In the winter, I exclusively use canned tomatoes to make this. It works great and the fresh additions make it taste summer-y.

    • Thanks. Some salsa’s just don’t can well. I do have a recipe that does, so this might be one that I will just used canned tomatoes in the off season. Plus, I have ANOTHER excuse to my cilantro growing on my windowsill. 🙂

      As for canning- you gotta try it! It really extends the usefulness of your over abundant veggies and fruits into their off season.

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