- Food and Cooking»
- Cooking Ingredients
Salsa - The Fun, Flavorful Condiment
What's the number one condiment in the United States? (drum roll). It's not mustard...it's not relish...nope, it's not even ketchup, it's the FUN, the FLAVORFUL...SALSA!
According to Food Product Design magazine, as of December 2000, salsa uprooted ketchup as the number one condiment in the U.S, mainly because salsa adds more zest to our meals. Apparently, Salsa is much saucier, spicier and more flavorful and fun than ketchup could ever dream of being.
What is Salsa?
The word 'salsa' means sauce.The most common forms of salsa are made up of tomatoes, chilies, onions and other spices. We usually find it mild, medium or hot forms in terms of spiciness.
The Aztecs and other Central American nations were the first to domesticate the wild tomato, which is indigenous to Ecuador and Peru. Chilies were domesticated in Latin America. The Incas, Mayas and Aztecs made the sauce (translated to salsa by a Spanish missionary) with chilies, tomatoes and other ingredients like squash seeds and even beans.
Since its very beginnings, salsa has been used on a variety of foods. The Aztec people used their sauce on seafood, turkey and venison. Today, this popular condiment is used on everything from chips and enchiladas to eggs and chicken.
Kinds of Salsa
There are a variety of different kinds of salsas. Some of the more popular ones include:
Salsa roja (red sauce) - used in Mexican and Southwestern foods. Made with tomatoes, chilies, onions, garlic, peppers and cilantro.
Salsa cruda (raw sauce) - also known as pico de gallo. Made with raw tomatoes, lime juice, chili peppers, onions, cilantro leaves, and other coarsely chopped raw ingredients.
Salsa verde (green sauce) - Made with tomatillos or green tomatoes.
Salsa negra (black sauce) - Made with dried chilies, oil, and garlic.
Salsa taquera (taco sauce) - Made with tomato paste
Guacamole - Made from avocados, generally used as a dip instead of a sauce
Chipotle Salsa (a smoky, spicy sauce) - Made with smoked jalapeno chili peppers, tomatoes, garlic and spices.
Mango Salsa (a spicy-sweet sauce) - Made with mangoes
Homemade salsa continues to increase in popularity, mainly due to the simplicity and the ability to control the type of flavor, intensity and spiciness. There are many variations of salsa. To experiment try the following tips when making your own:
- Cilantro is the herb most commonly found in salsa. But when making your own, instead of cilantro you can use: parsley, basil, oregano or mint.
- Besides tomatoes, try using mangoes, peaches, melons, pineapple or tomatillos.
- To add flavor, color and texture try adding bell peppers, radishes, black beans, avocado, fresh corn kernels
- If you like sweet, salty, sour and spicy add salt, lime juice or vinegar, bottled hot sauce and pinches of sugar, until you find your perfect taste.
Prepared salsa is especially popular in regions outside of the Southwest United States. It's long shelf life and widespread availability are reasons that canned or jarred salsa is so popular. To increase their shelf life, these salsas are cooked to a temperature of 175 degrees F. Some of these prepared salsas use vinegar or pickled peppers in vinegar instead of fresh peppers.
Some grocery stores also sell refrigerated salsa in plastic containers. This fresh salsa has a shorter shelf life and may be more expensive.
According to consumerresearch.com, in a blind taste test of over 80 different kinds of prepared salsa these three came out on top in their categories:
- Best Gourmet Salsa: Desert Pepper Trading Co. Salsa
- Best All Natural Salsa: Green Mountain Gringo Salsa
- Best Supermarket Salsa: Pace Salsa
Other favorite salsas included:
- Herdez Salsa Casera
- Old El Paso
- Santa Barbara
Health Benefits of Salsa
Besides tasting delicious, there is an added bonus to eating salsa - it's good for you. Salsa is very low in calories and cholesterol and usually has no added sugar or fat. In order to get all of the health benefits of salsa, it is recommended to eat a half-cup portion which adds an extra serving of vegetable or fruit to your daily diet.
Salsa contains tomatoes which contain lycopenes. These carotenoids may play a role in preventing prostate cancer as well as heart disease. Cooked, processed tomatoes instead of raw tomatoes are the best source of lycopenes since the heat makes the carotenoids more available for absorption.
Most salsas are made with chili peppers which contain capsaicin. Capsaicin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects as well as anti-cancer, anti-ulcer, and anti-bacterial properties.
Onions are low in sodium, high in vitamin C and a good source of fiber. They contain a flavonoid called quercetin which may protect against cataracts, cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Garlic can lower cholesterol, prevent blood clots and reduce blood pressure. Studies have also shown that garlic can prevent cancer and protect against bacterial and fungal infections.
Homemade salsa is somewhat healthier because of the lower sodium content. Most prepared salsa contains from 90 to 270 milligrams (mg) of sodium in just two tablespoons. Even though that’s half the sodium content of ketchup, if you eat a half cup of salsa, that's more than one-third of the recommended daily intake of sodium.
Why Salsa is the Number One Condiment in America...According to Seinfeld
More Food & Drink Hubs
- John Mayer - Almonds CAN BE Your Best Friend
John Mayer has given in to the myth that almonds are not good for you. He needs to know that almonds are healthy for many reasons and that many healthy products are made from almonds.
- Easy Crock Pot Lasagna Recipe
Making lasagna can be messy and take up a lot of time. Try this easy crockpot lasagna recipe. You'll be amazed at how easy and delicious it is.
- Starbucks vs. McDonalds McCafe - Calories, Caffeine and Cash
Look here to see the differences between Starbucks and McDonalds McCafe popular espresso drinks. Compare prices, calories and caffeine content.
- McDonalds McCafe Caramel Mocha Review Including Cost and Nutrition
This review is for the Caramel Mocha espresso drink that is one of the most recent drinks added to McDonalds McCafe menu. Find out what one reviewer thinks about the drink along with the cost and nutrition facts.
- Five Ways to Cook Without Using an Oven
As a way to keep things cool during the hot sumemr months, there are five ways to cook without using an oven. These methods include grilling, using an electric skillet, microwaving and more.
- Crockpot Cooking - Recipes, Facts and Tips
Crockpots or slow cookers are great for the busy person as they can save a lot of time and energy when preparing a meal. Crockpots are a must have for any household.
- Ranch Dressing - The Cool, Creamy Condiment
It's an impressive fact that Ranch Dressing has been the number one choice of dressing for Americans since 1992. And since overtaking Italian, Ranch Dressing has never looked back. Why do we love ranch...