Salsa is one of the most popular condiments or dips in the country. But how much do you really know about this tomato-based treat? Here are the answers to three frequently asked questions about salsa:
- What Is Salsa?
This might seem like a silly question at first. Everyone knows the spicy tomato dip ubiquitous at Mexican restaurants in the U.S., right? But the issue is more complex than you might think. Fresh salsas, such as pico de gallo salsa dips, use raw veggies and spices chopped up and mixed together, whereas Southwestern salsa recipes typically use stewed tomatoes and incorporate elements such as beans and corn. Things get even more complicated in cross-cultural fusion cooking. The difference between a salsa, a chutney and a relish is difficult or impossible to define in contemporary cooking, but generally a salsa will be used in cuisine with some Latin influence.
- Is Salsa Easy to Make?
There are so many different types of salsa offered in the store that it’s often more convenient to pick up a jar or container and be done with it. But if you’re interested in from-scratch cooking, salsa is actually quite easy to make. Beginners might want to start with pico de gallo, since this mainly involves chopping up a few vegetables, then move on to cooked salsas combining more fruits and vegetables. Make sure you use high-quality ingredients for fresh, intense flavors; the best tomatoes for salsa are firm varieties with a high flesh-to-seed ratio, such as plum tomatoes.
- Can You Freeze Salsa?
Americans love to keep things in the freezer so they’ll always be on hand, and this works for salsa to the extent that it will keep the ingredients from spoiling. But freezing alters the texture of tomatoes — and since tomatoes are the primary ingredient in salsa, frozen salsas often will have a strange, watery texture. This may or may not be a problem, depending on the intended application. If used in a soup, frozen salsa might taste just fine. So can you freeze salsa? Yes. But if you’re a chips-and-dip person, you might be better off buying smaller jars (or doing some canning on your own) and keeping them in a cool, dark pantry.
What other questions do you have about salsa? Join the discussion in the comments.