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Let me tell you a story about a girl who fell in love with fresh salsa. It started out by accident. I was just a regular gal, married to a guy who loved to grow and can tomatoes. He was allergic to raw tomatoes but any time we could cook and can tomatoes, we did.
(Of course this was during the season that the tomatoes overtook the garden and we wound up with more tomato plants than we knew what to do with, but I digress.)
The Beginning of Salsa Love
Canning our own fresh salsa was the result of running out of quart size canning jars but not tomatoes.
Up until that point, I’d mostly had salsa from the grocery store or at a Mexican restaurant, so my knowledge of what made good fresh salsa wasn’t the best back then. Oh, and I had a thing about chunky salsa; I hated it. When a jar of salsa was almost empty and all that was left were big chunks of tomato or onion, I’d either puree it and add it to our taco sauce or toss it out. Wasteful.
Yes, I’m ashamed of myself.
When we started canning our own salsa, I learned to love the chunks a little more and because my husband is allergic to raw tomatoes, I learned that “fresh” didn’t have to mean raw. We could still get great fresh flavor from our salsa by cooking and canning.
I Want to Be a Fresh Salsa Master
Maybe it’s because I was spoiled all those years in Ohio with our garden that produced tomatoes out its arse, or my palate has matured, but since we moved to Alaska, I found myself craving salsa on the regular. (No, not pregnant, just love salsa!)
There is the other problem of having homemade fresh salsa, and that’s the availability of good tomatoes. Alaska has such a short growing season that unless you’re growing your own tomatoes in a green house or high tunnel, (or produce of any kind) it’s expensive. Even the farmer’s market leaves me in sticker shock.
It was on a sticker shock-esque trip to the farmer’s market that introduced me to a lady who made and sold fresh salsa in 12 ounce containers. I held off buying salsa from her for the longest time because her salsa wasn’t cooked and that meant that the husband couldn’t have any.
My Own Slice of Salsa Heaven
After a year of living the store-bought salsa life, I got over the husband’s limitations and decided I could still love him and have my fresh salsa too.
I now refer to the farmer’s market woman as “salsa lady”. Before we cut our budget for the winter, I made regular trips to see the salsa lady.
It wasn’t long before I decided fresh salsa shouldn’t be nixed from the budget. But I still couldn’t justify the price of fresh salsa from the farmer’s market, no matter how much I loved the salsa lady.
The problem was, and continues to be the cost of tomatoes. After several Google searches, I learned that canned whole or diced tomatoes are a satisfactory substite for fresh tomatoes. Canned tomatoes are easier on the budget and you don’t lose any flavor.
This gave me hope.
Salsa should be as necessary as milk, butter, eggs, or chocolate. I knew the basics of salsa and decided I would try to come up with my own version of “Salsa lady” fresh salsa. I did not end up disappointed.