Here in Austin you generally celebrate Cinco de Mayo holding a margarita in one hand and dipping a chip into a fresh bowl of salsa with the other. It is seriously fun (and delicious) times. In fact, these are activities I like to enjoy pretty much any day of the year.
When I lived in Seattle good, fresh salsa was hard to come by. So my friends and I got to work perfecting our own salsa recipes. To this day my homemade salsa is probably my favorite…even with a great selection here in Austin.
While I’m not going to share my salsa recipe (it’s top secret, folks!!), I will share some insider tips to growing your own salsa garden. Because the best part about making your own salsa is using ingredients fresh from your garden. And it’s easy to do!
The classic ingredient. Freshly picked beefsteak tomatoes are my favorite, but I am sure any tomato right out of your garden would taste delicious. You can always can your tomatoes if you have too many and use them to make salsa down the road (especially if you are waiting for fall to harvest your limes from your lime tree). Try mixing it up a little and fire roasting the tomatoes before you add them to your salsa.
Jalapeños and serranos are usually the crowd pleasers, but kick it up a notch with a habanero or even a ghost pepper. I would definitely steer clear of bell peppers for salsa, I personally think they just water it down.
These are a must for salsa (and pretty much any other recipe on the face of the planet). They are easy to grow, don’t take up much space, and store for a long time. I personally like the sweet varieties, but really any type of onion would taste great in salsa.
Some people add garlic to their salsa and some don’t. I love garlic and again it’s pretty easy to grow, so why not throw a clove or two in your salsa? I’m pretty sure it could do no wrong.
These are what give salsa that tangy touch, and is required to make good, classic salsa. The tricky part is that in Austin limes are generally in season starting in the fall which is a usually later than when the last tomato has been picked (unless you are successful in growing fall tomatoes), so that’s why it definitely doesn’t hurt to can some tomatoes for later.
I personally think that in order to make good salsa, you have to add cilantro. This is one of my favorite herbs to grow and adding a handful to your salsa really will bring it to the next level.
I have had some pretty amazing salsas that were tomatillo based vs. tomato based. Highly recommend to grow these and try them out in your next batch of salsa.
These are one of my favorite things to grow. And if you grow enough (they are pretty small) they would be perfect for a salsa. I’ve grown pineapple tomatillos and Aunt Molly’s ground cherries and they have a flavor that is mixed with a berry and tomato. Highly recommended even if you eat them too quickly to add them to salsa.
Watermelon, strawberries and peaches are a great start if you are wanting to make a fruit salsa with produce you grow in your backyard. If you can wing it, pineapple also makes a great salsa. You do have to think a little differently when adding ingredients to fruit salsas and make sure the additional ingredients compliment the sweeter tones.
Mint and basil sound dreamy in a salsa, especially a fruit-based salsa, but I am sure some parsley or lemon balm would be just as delicious.
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