How to Thicken Homemade Salsa

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Salsa has become a near-ubiquitous condiment to spice up tacos, grilled meats and salads. Having surpassed ketchup as America’s favorite condiment, it’s also enjoyed loaded up on tortilla chips. Making salsa at home can be a terrific way to use fresh, healthy ingredients, but can sometimes result in watery blends. Using a blender or food processor, in particular, can over-refine produce so that it loses its snappy crunch. Although some salsas are intended to be pureed and enjoyed smooth, if you’re looking for a chunkier, crispier homemade salsa, there are ways to thicken the blend.

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Add Roma tomatoes to thicken a watery salsa. Ordinary slicing tomatoes can create a watery mix, since these tomatoes are naturally juicier. Roma tomatoes are slightly firmer, so that when blended they yield a thicker consistency. In general, when selecting tomatoes for homemade salsa, avoid tomatoes that are older and softer than others. These will lack the fresh taste so important in raw salsa, and the soft texture will create a soupier mix.

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Rethink your add-ons. Some basic salsa recipes call for tomatoes, garlic, cilantro and onion. Although this can be simple and delicious, it might not yield the thicker salsa you’re looking for. Adding chunky vegetables, including red or green bell peppers and spicy peppers or chilies, can increase the crispy texture of your homemade salsa. Other add-ons, such as mango, avocado, cucumber and tomatillos, can also increase thickness, but these might substantially change the salsa’s flavor profile. Mango will add sweetness, while avocado will add a thick, creamy texture. Tomatillos bring a specific warmth to the salsa, and cucumbers a cooler touch.

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Adjust your preparation technique. Although blenders and food processors make preparing homemade salsa quick and easy, overprocessing can lead to thinner salsa. You might not have time to chop enough produce by hand to make your salsa, and that’s not necessary, anyway. Processing the majority of your ingredients can make the basic salsa blend, but reserve some time to roughly chop additional tomatoes, onions and cilantro by hand for larger, fresh-cut ingredients to stir into the blended salsa.