Salsa is synonymous with Mexican cuisine. However, it has slowly permeated into other parts of the world.
It is not unusual to find a bowl of this vibrant condiment accompanying different dishes. It also works well on most savory dishes and salads. Preparing salsa is an easy task.
There are many variations, but ingredients like hot pepper and tomatoes are a must have.
Other ingredients include different types of chilies, herbs, onions, tomatoes and spices. Salsa also comes in different textures.
Some have a chunky consistency whereby you can easily identify ingredients. Other variations are blended into a smooth texture and used as a dip.
Each ingredient has its own nutritional benefits.
These benefits include:
- Contains citric acid due to the splash of lime or lemon juice added on it. Citric acid has alkalizing properties which reduce inflammation and helps in relieving kidney stones.
- Has potassium which is effective for blood pressure levels in the body.
- Rich in antioxidants which dissipate free radicals in the system, guarding against cancer and heart ailments.
- Is low in cholesterol due to the plant-based ingredients used. Foods low in cholesterol aid in weight management.
- Has hydrating properties due to the presence of tomatoes. These vegetables have a high water content which help to keep the body well hydrated. It also relieves digestion issues like constipation.
- Rich in vitamins. Most of the ingredients used in salsa contain healthy doses of vitamins which are essential for proper growth and protection. Most notably are the substantial amounts of vitamin C, which promotes healthy bones, skin and immune system.
Salsa can be homemade or store-bought. The store-bought versions are made for commercial purpose and may contain preservative agents.
You can reap the tasty and healthy benefits by being aware of its shelf life. Proper storage will also guarantee an increased shelf life, thus you will enjoy this condiment all year long.
Salsa does have a shelf life. Homemade variety has the shortest shelf life due to lack of added preservatives.
The shelf life is also dependent on the state of storage containers or tubs. Opened containers will have a reduced shelf life compared to unopened containers.
Always refrigerate homemade salsa even when in use.
A good trick is to use small-sized storage containers which are sufficient in each serving. You will therefore only withdraw a single container at a time. This trick is also beneficial to prevent cross contamination. Sometimes the opened jars may be contaminated when food is dipped into the salsa during mealtimes.
When properly refrigerated, homemade type can keep for one week. Opened containers can be vacuum sealed and frozen for prolonged shelf life.
Frozen homemade salsa will keep well for up to 2 months. Store in airtight, heavy duty containers to prevent odor absorption.
Freezing is not encouraged as it can alter the taste and composition of ingredients. Avoid storing near sensitive food items as they will pick up the strong, spicy aroma of salsa.
The shelf life of commercially bought variations may vary depending on whether they are opened or sealed.
Opened bottle of commercially bought salsa is best stored in cool temperatures, either refrigerated or frozen. When refrigerated, it can last one month and extend for 2 months, if frozen.
Unopened commercially bought salsa has a longer shelf life. It has a less storage hustle and will keep well in the pantry.
Avoid placing it near windows or any passage which lets in direct sunlight. Also avoid heat prone areas which will hasten spoilage and fermentation. It will last well for nearly 2 years.
How Best to Store Salsa to Increase its Shelf Life
- Handle the ingredients cautiously. Avoid touching your face or eyes during preparation. You will regret. Chilli is highly uncomfortable when it enters your eyes. Ensure you thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water.
- Use separate chopping boards and cutlery to prevent imparting the heat of chilli on other food items. This is especially in instances where someone does not consume chili for one reason or another.
- Use roasted vegetables for optimal flavor. Roast the chili, onions and tomatoes until well-browned. This imparts a smoky flavour.
- When making the homemade variation, it is advisable to use small-sized jars whose quantity can be used in one serving. This reduces spoilage and cross contamination.
- When canning, always leave some head space at the top. This allows steam to escape during vacuum sealing.
Prolonging the shelf life of salsa can be achieved in the following ways:
This is effective for homemade salsa which has been made in bulk. Prepare the mason jars by sterilizing them and keeping them hot.
After making salsa, pour it into the jars and loosely place the lids on top. Can the salsa in a hot water bath for several minutes. The lids should shut tightly due to vacuum sealing, as a result of the steam produced.
Refrigerate the jars after cooling. In case one of the jars did not seal properly, use it first.
Drying works well to preserve almost anything under the sun.
Spread the salsa onto lined dehydrating trays. Leave it to dehydrate overnight or when it is preferable.
The entire process takes 10 hours at most.
Store the dried salsa in Ziploc bags or tightly sealed containers that have been filled completely to the brim. This keeps them dry.
Refrigerate them and use as desired. Dried salsa will keep well for several months.
In case you desire to re-hydrate the salsa, ensure you do not over-dilute it. Use an equal ration of water and amount of salsa when re-hydrating.
Another effective way to prolong the shelf life of salsa is to pickle it. Add the base agents for pickling such as salt, vinegar, lemon juice and sugar to the salsa and place in mason jars to cure.
Tightly seal the mason jars after the curing process is complete.
Leave at room temperature for a few days before refrigerating.
Some recipes state that you can leave at room temperature or place the jars in the refrigerator to pickle from there.
Stick to tried and tested methods, or if you are using a recipe, follow the stated instructions to avoid messing up.
How to Identify Spoiled Salsa
Here are some tell-tale signs of spoiled salsa:
- Discolored salsa signifies spoilage. Salsa that has lost its original hue and starts to turn black should be discarded immediately.
- A sour, foul odor indicates spoilage. Discard the salsa.
- Visible mold is another indication of spoilage. Ingested mold causes fatal reactions. Get rid of the salsa immediately.
- Separation of ingredients. If salsa has liquid floating at the top with sunken ingredients, this signifies decay.
Salsa is a versatile condiment to have during mealtimes. Not only is it healthy, it also compliments numerous dishes. Handle it with care by avoiding any contaminants.
Prolong its shelf life by storing it under suitable conditions and it will serve you well.