Salsa help

Joined Jul 17, 2010
I have made a huge bowl of salsa.  About a gallon.

Although I have tons of HEAT I lack in tomato taste. It tastes bland.

Here is what I have added.

6 EX large tomatoes

3 med onions

2 cloves fresh garlic

2 jalepenos

1 large can green chiles

1 head of cilantro

1/2 tsp salt (hubby can't have salt so I added only a minimal amount)

1 Tbsp hot sauce

1/4 cup vinegar

juice of one lime

I have had numerous people taste this and they told me it is fine BUT

they added that I should put in a salsa seasoning packet.  (I want to make this FRESH)

or add more salt or even sugar?

This is not a cooked recipe.
Joined Feb 8, 2009
All the Ego Chefs put in a lot more salt (From Rome), I never have used Vinegar, but I do put in fresh squeezed line juice. ......ChefBillyB      P.S. I know you said he can't have salt, but it does bring it all together, IMHO. Maybe try using AlsoSalt, or Mrs Dash.
Joined Oct 9, 2008
I don't agree with Ed. I think you've got too much extra stuff already. If you want it to taste like tomatoes, you've got to get rid of stuff that gets in the way, and keep it simple.

For instance, why the canned chilies? Why the vinegar? Why the lime? And most especially, why the hot sauce? These things will tend to cover and dull the flavors unless used in a very, very small quantity. I'd scrap them all, and then use a very small squeeze of lime if you think the flavor needs brightening. I personally don't care for raw garlic in my salsa, but that's up to you.

Next point is there is not a lot of tomato here for the rest of the ingredients. A head of cilantro and only 6 tomatoes? That's an awful lot of cilantro.

Next point: are you squeezing your tomatoes or leaving in all the juice? It'll taste more tomato-ey if you squeeze them and just use the flesh. Of course, then you'll really see how little tomato you've got, and will add a bunch more.

A pinch of sugar is a good option to draw out tomato flavor, but don't go overboard.

I think salsa cruda should be very simple: tomato, onion, cilantro, fresh chiles, pinch of salt, possibly a grind of pepper. Everything else gets you away from that pure, simple taste.

Need it be said that the biggest factor in getting such a tomato recipe to taste like great tomatoes is to use great tomatoes? This is late summer -- I'll assume this is a non-issue here.
Joined Nov 2, 2009
A few thoughts from a rookie:

I have read that tomato leaves will add a lot of tomato flavor without adding too much more volume to the dish.  (Historically, they were believed to be toxic.)  I intend to try this in one of my tomato-based sauces or salsa and let my wife taste it (and then keep her under observation).

I like to keep my salsa simple as well, Chris.  Although I have been adding sweetcorn since it is in season, and adding fresh stevia instead of sugar.

I understand the salt issue, but I would think about adding a bit more to the salsa and leaving it out somewhere else (and then keep "hubby" under observation!).

You sure can't beat fresh salsa!  I love this time of year!
Joined Feb 1, 2007
I'm with Chris and Buckeye on this. With all that other stuff, all the tomato is doing is adding some bulk.

FWIW, if you want to up tomato flavor, try this. Using a dehydrator, dry tomatos to the crisp stage. Then pulverize them in a spice grinder. You'll be amazed at the concentrated tomato flavor a spoonful or so of this tomato powder brings to a dish.
Joined Aug 3, 2010
I'd concur with Chris, the recipe seems a little overloaded. The basic recipe he outlined is simply perfect for salsa cruda, and though there are plenty of good variations and alternatives, you just can't go wrong sticking to the basics.  Definitely take note to squeeze the tomatoes first and just use the flesh, and if you want to "mix" it up a bit, try roasting a few of the chiles off, or adding just a dash of cumin, or a splash of lime juice.

If you're cooking for someone watching their sodium levels, then definitely avoid hot sauces or seasoning packets, which are usually loaded up with salt.  The nice thing about salsa fresca is it's ability to stand on it's own two legs without salt, or just the smallest pinch of it; just one more reason to keep it simple.  More ingredients mean more muddled flavors, and muddled flavors need more salt to pull everything together!

The last thing I'll note: the amount of cilantro you added is the same amount I use in three-gallon batches of salsa.  The longer the salsa will sit (and letting it sit for a while is always a good thing), the more the cilantro's flavor will "bloom," and cilantro can go from hero to villain very quickly when used with a heavy hand.


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
I agree that you have way too much extraneous stuff in there.  One thing that no one mentioned though is the amount of onion you use.  I think that 3 medium onions for the amount of tomato is overkill.  I usually use only 1 medium onion for every 4-6 tomatoes (depending on their size).  Also skip the vinegar and hot sauce and use fresh lime juice only-it will make for a brighter, fresher flavor.  Cut back on the cilantro to about 1/2 a bunch.  As for heat level, jalapenos are a relatively mild chile peppers, try replacing some, or all, of them with serranos which are quite a bit hotter.  I also disagree with using sugar, stevia or any other sweeterner in fresh salsa, especially this time of year when you should have wonderfully ripe local tomatoes.  The greatness of fresh salsa (salsa crudo, pico de gallo) is in its simplicity, but because of this simplicity you must keep everything in balance or it throws off the whole thing.  Save all the "additions" for more complex cooked salsas.
Joined Oct 9, 2008
Couple minor notes.

First of all, we don't know how much a "bunch" of cilantro is here, so let's just say that you don't want the salsa to taste super-strongly of cilantro, so take it easy.

Same goes for the onions: depends what kind, how big, you name it. I like my salsa a bit oniony, my wife likes it minimally so, whatever.

I totally agree about using serranos over jalapenos, but I've lived in places where jalapenos are the only thing available.

Myself, I'd skip the lime juice and the sugar. You don't need either one. But either or both can be useful for drawing out flavors otherwise present --- so long as you use them in extreme moderation. Your salsa should not taste of lime or of sugar; these things should not be obvious, or even apparent except to the most sensitive palates.

Do you know the KISS rule?





It doesn't work for everything, unfortunately, but it does for salsa.

A minor note: if you make salsa cruda this simply, you can then try something else wonderful. Mash two avocadoes medium-coarse, add a few tablespoons of this same salsa, and squeeze in just a little --- maybe a quarter at most --- lime. Mash some more. Taste, correct salt, serve. Guacamole is another thing that needs nothing but the bare minimum, and any extra you do will undermine precisely what's most delicious about it.
Joined Apr 2, 2007
I'd agree with Chris and co, more tomatoes!  If you take the three onions and two cloves of garlic as a starting point you will need much more tomato to balance this. Also, I would lose the canned chillis and the vinegar.
Joined Aug 6, 2010
There are some great ideas here for making fresh salsa, but let me interject something different. While I love fresh salsa and make it more often than anything else, I also love grilled salsa. Grilling the tomatoes, onions, and chiles gives everything a wonderful smokey flavor that is really nice. I usually use both serranos and anaheim peppers, but jalepenos work too.

And as a side note, I actually like using red onions in salsa. I just like the taste of red onions more than white onions or yellow onions.
Joined Mar 9, 2010
We have an over adundance of tomatoes coming in from the garden and salsa has been on the menu as of late.

Salsa is all about freshness.

6 large  ripe Tomatoes.... med dice

1 med  Red Onion ....fine dice

2  Jalepinos......fine dice

1/2  sweet Red Pepper...... small dice

1/2  sweet Green Pepper .....small dice

1/2 cup coarsly chopped Cilantro

2 cloves Garlic .....minced

Juice of 2 small Limes

1 tsp Kosher Salt

2 tsp olive oil

I like a chunky Salsa that calls for the addition of sweet peppers.....adds a little more crunch too ! 
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Joined Sep 18, 2008
Here's my recipe for Pico de Gallo:

* Exported from MasterCook *

                              Pico De Gallo

Recipe By     :
Serving Size  : 100   Preparation Time :0:00
Categories    : Appetizer

  Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method

  6 1/4         pounds  tomatoes -- diced
  3 1/8         medium  yellow onion -- diced
  18 3/4   tablespoons  fresh cilantro -- (packed) chopped
  6 1/4    tablespoons  fresh lime juice
  3 1/8      teaspoons  lime zest -- fresh
  6 1/4   large cloves  garlic -- minced
  3 1/8          large  jalapeno -- seeded and minced
  1       16 1/2 ounce bag  tostito Scoops -- approximately 200 chips

Toss all ingredients in a medium bowl until well blended. Refrigerate until ready for use.

  "1 1/2 quarts"
                                    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 31 Calories; 1g Fat (34.8% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 22mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit.

Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Joined Feb 26, 2007
I'd much prefer red onions (maybe 1 large) and no cilantro - can't stand the stuff, but if you do like it, but down the amount.  Don't need the hot sauce - let the flavours combine and marry and you'll find it takes care of itself for flavour.  Lemon vs lime - in my mind lemon wins every time. Lemon zest in particular. There's something about lime my palate doesn't like.  That's just me though.

But all in all, a nice recipe, just needs some tweaking.
Joined Apr 3, 2008
The farmer's rule is that the bigger the produce the smaller the flavor.  This doesn't apply to everything but it does apply to tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini in particular.  I avoid extra large tomatoes even when they are in season.  If you want a really nice tomato flavor you have to use really nice tomatoes, and vine ripe tomatoes (that's what they're called around here) are the best.  Go organic and you'll see an even bigger difference.  Dice them and put them in a colander to get rid of excess liquid.

I agree that keeping salsa simple is the best way to go.  I find that by using a little bit of red onion and a little chopped scallion makes the best oniony combination, plus it's pretty and provides the necessary green to make up for the lack of cilantro - don't like the stuff.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
Aw, come on , Pete. Do you really make it using those fractional quantities? And what happens to the extra 3/4 garlic clove?

Go organic and you'll see an even bigger difference.

While there are many reasons to prefer organic over non-organic, flavor differences are not part of the equation. If you grew two of the same tomato variety side by side, using organic methods with one and "chemical" methods with the other, the tomatoes will taste exactly the same.

Tomatoes (indeed all vegetables) extract nutrients from the soil. There are 16 of them in all, and the plant doesn't care whether they come from manure or from a bag of powder.

If you're buying organic tomatoes at the supermarket (as opposed to, say, a real farmer's market), then the only difference between the two is the price.

I bring this up only because anti-organic people use false claims like that to "prove" there is no benefit to organic growing.

FWIW, the legal definition of "vine ripened" is not the same as what you evidently mean. I can sell you tomatoes that are legally vine ripened which you would consider to be green. On the other hand, tomatoes which have been ripened on the vine are, indeed, the most flavorsome.
Joined Aug 3, 2010

You can't buy tomatoes at the supermarket, silly.  You can buy "tomato-type food products" that have the exterior appearance of a tomato, but taste nothing like one.  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif

We recently tracked down a local hydroponic grower who could keep up with our volume, and started buying his tomatoes.  Good gravy.  They may be a bit of a pain to prep in volume (face it, if there's one thing those big, sterile batches you find at the supermarket having going for 'em, it's uniformity and consistency), but having access in the restaurant to tomatoes plucked off the vine the same day they arrive at the back door?  Outstanding!
Joined Apr 3, 2008
KY you know I'm not a scientist and you know I don't have any mumbo jumbo to round out a discussion of organic vs. non-organic.  I have said from the start of the organic debates that the only thing I care about is flavor.  I compare the stuff that is available to me at my nearby markets.  The tomatoes in the left bin taste a whole lot better than the ones in the right bin.  The ones on the left bin just so happen to be labeled organic.  I'm not an organic snob.  I also prefer the regular nuts as opposed to the organic ones, go figure. 

These days I'm finding these really nice heirloom tomatoes labeled "Ugly" but I think they're beauties.

PS - I can't afford the tomatoes at the farmers market.  Wish I could though, once in a while I'll pick one up for a salad... ONE.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
That Ugly tomato is a Florida variety. A modern open pollinated. There was a major contretempts surrounding it, including a lawsuit.

But I agree with you; it's pretty tasty.
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