The Salsa Basic

Author: Paynter's Fruit Market  •  Date: September 19, 2014  •  Appears in: Recipe

The Salsa Basic

Salsa can mean a great deal of fantastic things. Not only is it one of the worlds greatest dances, it is a sauce that knows no bounds. You can make salsa from green tomatoes, tomatillos, roma tomatoes, field tomatoes, and even peaches. The additives can also vary from the variety of onions, garlic, peppers, and spices. You could start at simple and mild, then move to an explosion of heat with the addition of one habanero. Then there's the difference between fresh and canned salsa. Oi! It's so exciting! Making salsa is a creative exercise and I believe the taste is reflective of the makers themselves. That being said, a good solid base recipe is essential to any creative endeavours later, so let's get started. 





Let's talk about tomatoes. Ripeness is essential to these magical globes of flavour. The best way to let a tomato ripen is in the natural sunshine and on the plant. Once red and somewhat soft they are perfect for either canning or, for our purposes, salsa making. Usually at Paynters we have ripe boxes of 20lbs of tomatoes ready to grab for your convenience.  

The Salsa Basic 

  • 8 cups tomatoes, chopped and drained
  • 2 1/2 cups onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups peppers (red, yellow, green, pimento, mixed)
  • 1 cup jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 cup canning salt
  • 1/4 cup local honey
  • 1/3 cup vinegar
  • 1 (12 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped





  • 8 cups tomatoes, chopped and drained

I like my salsa CHUNKY! So I chop big chunks of tomatoes and throw them into my strainer in the sink. Once the strainer is half full I shake it around in an attempt to remove excess liquid. 





  • 2 1/2 cups onions, chopped

I like me a delicious red onion. Some like a sweeter taste, so they use yellow, but you can do whatever you like. I am not going to hold it against you. And again, I like chunky salsa so I cut large pieces of onion. It is also an incredible time saver not having to be dainty with your knife. 





  • 1 1/2 cups peppers (red, yellow, green, pimento, mixed)

Pimentos are my go-to salsa pepper. Why you ask? Good question. Not only are they grown and picked fresh regularly at Paynters Fruit Market in the fall, but pimentos are a special pepper. Having a thicker wall then your average Bell, the Pimento holds its shape and firmness better throughout the canning process then its cousins. Three cheers for the pimento!





  • 1 cup jalapeno pepper, chopped

Remember: WEAR GLOVES!!!!!! If you don't, you may find your hand to be significantly hotter than the rest of your body for a day. While in the winter that may be nice, it's not the most natural of feelings. Also, if you want to add more kick throw a habanero in there! BOOM! You'll get heat! Want a more mild version? Don't be afraid to only add 1/2 cup. 





  • 6 garlic cloves, minced

I love the taste of garlic; while the people around me may dismay at the amount of garlic I enjoy, I tend not to allow them to affect my culinary choices. I use Red Russian cause it packs a good punch. Yugoslavian Garlic is a good middle ground, with the Musical and Italian Garlic following with a calmer, softer side. 

Now that your wrist hurts from chopping, you're ready to get this dance going. Grab your pot, throw some olive oil in there or if you are weird like me some coconut oil. Once heated and ready to rock throw the garlic in there with the onions for some personal satay time.





Hmm....starting to smell good isn't it....

Next up I throw in the chopped peppers and toss that around for bit. Then I will add my chopped tomatoes and let that come to a simmer. I will then add my salt, cayenne pepper and cumin. Here is where you could go a little off the beaten track and add some lime leaves to give it a tangy zip, more cumin for that deep BBQ taste, some fresh lemon juice, or black pepper. I keep a secret bottle of chipotle for moments like these. 





Adding tomato paste adds to the flavour and thickness of the salsa. It's a very important addition to any tomato adventure. 

Next up you can toss in the vinegar, honey, and chopped cilantro. Bring it all to a boil, meanwhile sterilizing jars in the oven. Use the hot packing technique to start with, but water bath for five minutes each batch as well to be sure. AND VOILA! You'll have salsa for centuries!

*Note: This recipe yields 3 quarts, 6 pints. 

Paynter's Fruit Market


For over 60 years, and four generations, Paynters Fruit Market has been growing and supplying fresh, local fruits and veggies alongside artisanal products. Buying local, preserving, and spreading the delicious news about what we grow is our jam.
Read more by Paynter's Fruit Market

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.