You’ll want to get everything you will need to prepare the salsa ahead of time, such as large bowls, cutting boards, vinegar, brown sugar, onions, garlic, lime juice, and olive oil.
The fun begins by going out in the garden and picking your tomatoes and peppers. Pick firm and not overripe tomatoes. Each tomato has a distinct flavor so use a minimum of three to five varieties. The same distinct flavors apply to your peppers. Keep the varieties separate and remember which peppers are hot. In fact, when we plant our garden, we segregate the hot peppers, mild peppers, and sweet peppers. The same planting method keeps our small bearing tomatoes separate from the heirloom and paste tomatoes. You may even want to label the tomatoes you pick so you can remember to plant these favorites again next year. You will find some types are just not worth planting again.
Lay out your bounty on your kitchen counter or table and choose which tomatoes you want to use. Be sure to thoroughly wash your vegetables especially if you’ve used any chemicals to control fungal or insect problems.
The fresh (uncooked) salsa is spicy and has a carbonated or bubbly taste. Adding apples, strawberries, raspberries, oranges, pineapple, peaches, kiwi, and fresh mango will impart a distinct flavor and add crunch to your salsa. You can even add a little cabernet or merlot to enhance the flavor. This salsa will get you thinking about Margaritas - if you haven’t already!
Cooked salsa has more of a pungent flavor depending on what peppers you use. Roasted eggplant from the garden adds texture and flavor from the grill. Slice the eggplant into 1/4” slices, dip in olive oil and roast on the grill until soft. Chop these slices into 1/3” pieces and add to your salsa. The neat thing about eggplant is that it absorbs the flavors from your salsa.
You should consider making at least two types of salsa with different heat levels. For an extra hot salsa, add more Habanero and Jalapeño type peppers. I love hot and spicy salsas that most people won’t touch (please don’t forget to wear rubber gloves when handling hot peppers and don’t rub your eyes!).
I found that by adding brown sugar, applesauce, or maple syrup, you can tame a hot salsa so everyone can enjoy the bounty of your garden and have fun.