May is National Salsa MonthSalsa’ is Spanish for ’sauce’ and was named so by the Spaniards during the 1500’s. However Salsa’s history is much older than this, it was a favorite condiment of the ancient Aztecs, Myans and Inca’s as early as 5200 BC. The first salsa consisted of chopped tomatoes, chilis, beans and ground seeds such as squash seeds and was often used as a topping on meats such as turkey and fish.
Salsa does not only refer to the tomato and chili with beans and/or other veggies. There are fruit salsa’, chili sauces, taco sauces, guacamole and mole just to name a few can all be considered salsa’s.
As more people become concerned with eating healthy foods, salsa has become more popular as consumers realize that salsa is much more nutritious than ketchup or nacho cheeses sauces.
May is National Salsa Month, and the perfect way to celebrate is by experimenting with different salsa recipes. Salsas can be scrambled in eggs, dished as a garnish for chicken and fish and served as an ice cream topping. Salsas are enjoyed for their intense flavors and colors. Check out these tips to make sensational salsas.
· Salsa ingredients and preparation tips. Keep cut fruits, such as apples, pears, bananas and peaches, from turning brown by coating them with an acidic juice such as lemon, orange or pineapple juice. Or use a commercial produce protector such as Fruit-Fresh (R), and follow the manufacturer's directions. Cover and refrigerate cut fruit and veggies until ready to serve. Most salsas taste best if refrigerated for about an hour before serving to let flavors blend.
· Serve salsa safely. Perishable foods like dips, salsas, and cut fruit and vegetables should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours. If serving items such as these for a longer period than this set out a smaller bowl and then replace it with another one when it is empty. Do not add fresh dip or salsa to dip or salsa that has been sitting out. Refrigerate and use up any that has not been served within three to four days of preparation.
· Salsa canning basics. Canning your own salsa recipe or changing the proportions of ingredients in a tested salsa recipe can be unsafe. The types and amounts of ingredients used, as well as the preparation method, are important considerations in how a salsa is canned. Improperly canned salsas or other tomato-pepper combinations have been implicated in more than one outbreak of botulism poisoning. If you don't have a tested recipe or proper canning equipment, you might try freezing your salsa. Be aware there may be changes in texture and flavor after freezing and thawing. Try freezing a small amount the first time. Herbs and spices may taste better if they are added fresh just before serving. For more information on safe salsa recipes for canning, check out these salsa recipes, such as mango salsa, peach apple salsa and tomato salsa, from the National Center for Home Food Preservation at http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_salsa.html.
Some of the information in this article was authored by or Adapted from Lisa Franzen-Castle, PhD, RD, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Nutrition Specialist. Healthy Bites Newsletter, /fnh/healthy-bites, July 2013.