Salsa is one of those condiments that is rarely the star of the show but always the life of the party. The chunky mixed vegetable sauce of Mexican origin is renowned as a dipping sauce as well as a filling in tacos and a topping in nachos. Some varieties of salsa will cook the ingredients but in most cases when people say salsa they are referring to the uncooked version. Salsa is very easy to make at home (fresh salsa) but because of its popularity, you can buy salsa in a grocery or convenience store. Whether its store-bought or homemade you will likely have to store your salsa. To know how long this stored fresh salsa will last we need to understand salsa and its ingredients.
What Is Salsa?
Salsa is a sauce that is made from a combination of fruits and vegetables and served as a condiment alongside or in many Mexican dishes. There are many different versions of salsa but the most popular is the tomato, onion and chilli based salsa that has become synonymous with nachos, tacos, burritos and other popular Mexican dishes. This salsa is known as Pico de gallo. The word salsa means sauce in Spanish. Making salsa at home is easy and recipes will contain lemon or lime juice, herbs like cilantro and oregano and spices such as cumin. Once your salsa is made you will need to pay attention to a few things to store it properly.
Storing Fresh Salsa In The Fridge
When dealing with cooked food it is advised to have it in the refrigerator within 2 hours of removing it from a heat source. With your fresh salsa, there is no heating involved so it’s a little bit more complicated. Fresh salsa is made to be eaten immediately however you can store it for later use. It’s best to refrigerate the salsa as soon as possible. The best containers for storing fresh salsa are mason jars. You will want to sterilise the mason jars before use and this is not as complicated as it sounds. Firstly you will need to wash the mason jars in hot water and rinse with hot water as well. You have two options on how to go about sterilising them after washing. You can boil the jars and lids in hot hater water in a large pot for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes are up you can place the jars top down on a dishtowel to dry. You can also sterilise your mason jars in the oven. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Place your mason jars on a baking tray and place in the oven for 10 minutes. While the jars are in the oven you should boil the lids in hot water. With your jars sterilised you can go ahead and load your fresh salsa in and place in the fridge. If you do not have mason jars you can use any other container as long as it is airtight. Your fresh salsa will keep in the fridge for 5 to 7 days.
Storing Fresh Salsa In The Freezer
There’s a bit of a debate as to whether you can call anything fresh after freezing it. However, you can freeze fresh salsa though there are a few caveats. Firstly it’s best to freeze salsa if you’re confident you have a way of using where it is cooked or mixed into a recipe. Frozen salsa is ideal as a taco or burrito filling but not quite as a dip. You are using fresh vegetables and these do not freeze and thaw while maintaining texture. Tomatoes and onions for example will give off moisture in the thawing process making them limper than when fresh. To freeze your fresh salsa you will need airtight freezer-friendly containers. Mason jars can work but would not be ideal. Sealable freezer bags and Tupperware would be best for the job. This is simple as long as you get the salsa into the freezer within two hours of preparation. You will be pleased to know that salsa can keep in the freezer for 2 months. Within 2 months you can still expect the salsa to be close to the best quality. Your salsa can, in fact, keep indefinitely in the freezer but there will be a noticeable degradation in texture and quality after 2 months. You should be sure to label your chosen container with either the date of freezing or the use by date, 2 months forward. Thawing your fresh salsa is best done in the refrigerator. Take your salsa out of the freezer and place in the refrigerator for at least 12 and up to 24 hours. It is best to do this and avoid defrosting on the countertop or in the microwave. Both are not good ideas but for different reasons. Defrosting on the countertop will leave your salsa at room temperature which is a temperature at which bacteria grow rapidly. This is a problem when thawing cooked food that was frozen but something like fresh salsa which doesn’t involve any cooking will be more dangerous to thaw in this manner. Microwave defrosting does not work because it defrosts your salsa too quickly and the elements will give off more moisture than when slowly thawed.
How To Tell If Your Salsa Has Gone Bad
Ordinarily, a recipe that contains fresh vegetables and fruits would make it very easy to spot when it has gone bad. Traditional salsa fresca uses lemon or lime juice while experimental versions include other sauces and preservatives such as vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and others. The first sign you can easily pick is mould. This mould may develop in patches or look like fur. If you can see any sign like this discard the salsa immediately. If there are no visible signs of mould then you can use a smell test. Any smell of fermentation or bitterness is a sign that your salsa is likely off. If you are unsure you can taste it to be clear.
You can keep fresh salsa in the fridge for 5 to 7 days as long as you store it in sterilised mason jars or suitable airtight containers. You can also freeze your fresh salsa for up to 2 months though this is not the ideal method for storing fresh salsa.