Having lived in Texas all my life, I think it’s safe to say that I know a thing or two about really good Tex-Mex salsa. Chips and salsa are one of the 4 basic food groups in Texas — along with steak, bacon, and authentic BBQ. Take me to any Mexican restaurant in the country and I can tell you if it’s going to be worth the trip just by tasting their chips and salsa.
The summer I was 12, my mom handed me a can of tomatoes, an onion, cilantro, lime, and a jalepeno from our garden and told me to make salsa. This was the first time I had ever created something without a recipe. It was all about adding ingredients, blending, tasting, and adjusting. Sometimes I needed 2 or 3 jalepenos to get the heat level my family loved — HOT. Other times, half a pepper in an entire batch would set our mouths on fire.
I’ve spent the last 2 decades perfecting my salsa recipe, and several years ago, I began lacto-fermenting it. I don’t mean to toot my own horn here, but I’ve had many people tell me that this salsa is the best they’ve ever had. It’s my most-requested recipe and the one I’m asked to bring to every family and friend get-together. My brothers-in-law even expect it at Thanksgiving!
I really think the 12 to 24 hours the salsa sits fermenting on the counter kicks it up a notch and allows the flavors to develop and mingle with each other. I like knowing that I’m giving every party and holiday a good dose of healthy bacteria. 😉
You may balk at the idea of using canned tomatoes, but let me explain myself before you throw rotten food at me. You are more than welcome to use fresh tomatoes or even home-canned ones if you like. After 20 years of salsa-making, I have found that canned tomatoes give me the most consistent results and also provide me with the privilege of making salsa in the middle of January instead of waiting for the peak of tomato season in July.
I’m telling ya, we Texans need our salsa year round!
I use only organic tomatoes in either glass jars or BPA-free cans, and NOTHING else. Think of it like buying pasteurized milk to make yogurt or kefir. You take a dead food and bring it back to life again with the addition of live cultures. And all the other salsa ingredients are 100% fresh and raw.
Best Tex-Mex Salsa
I’m telling ya, we Texans need our salsa year round! In the off-season, why not use canned tomatoes (from glass jars or BPA-free cans, of course!) to make your salsa? By fermenting it, you take a dead food and bring it back to life again with the addition of live cultures. And all the other salsa ingredients are 100% fresh and raw! Makes 1 quart.
Empty the can of tomatoes into a food processor or blender. Add 1/2 of the onion and cilantro, 1 pepper, juice of half the lime, 2 cloves of garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt. Pulse until combined and to the consistency you like. Take a chip and taste.
This is where you get to customize your salsa to your taste. If you adore cilantro, go ahead and add the rest of the bunch. Maybe your salsa needs more heat, so add another pepper. If it’s too tomato-y, put in in the rest of the onion and another clove of garlic. And always add more salt if needed.
Pulse again until blended.
As soon as you’ve got your salsa tasting delicious, add whey and pulse a couple more times. Transfer to a clean quart-size jar with lid. Leave to ferment on your counter for at least 12 hours, but not more than 24 hours. Burp the jar if necessary halfway through the fermenting time. Store in the fridge. Salsa will keep for 3 to 4 months, but ours is usually devoured in a couple of weeks!
- For a smoky Chipotle variation, add 1 teaspoon ground cumin and 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle powder.
Because this salsa deserves a good chip…
- Wardee’s Best Homemade Tortilla Chips
- Food Should Taste Good Blue Corn Chips
- Homemade Paleo Tortilla Chips
- Trader Joe’s Plantain Chips
- Lard-Fried Corn Tortilla Chips
Heading into spring and summer, I wish you many a night filled with friends, fun, and this salsa to snack on!
This post was featured in 98 Healthy & Easy 4th of July Recipes.
Do you like your salsa hot or mild? Have you ever fermented salsa?
This post was featured in 50 Fermented Salsas, Dips, and Spreads, 16 Recipes and Tips for Real Food Camping, 60 Easy & Nourishing Picnic Recipes, and 92 Nourishing Grill & Barbecue Dishes, Drinks, & Desserts.
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Lindsey can I use the whey from draining yogurt with live cultures for this? This sounds so good and I have cilantro coming on in the garden now 🙂 I am dying to make this! Canned tomatoes – perfect for early spring salsa!
Lindsey Dietz says
Yes! Feel free to use the whey from your yogurt! Please report back and let me know how you liked the salsa!
Georgiaberry/Sunshine for Dinner says
I love salsa with canned tomatoes! I’ve always called it dump salsa. I have a recipe very similar to this one. It’s lovely!
Lindsey Dietz says
Thanks, Jenny! I’m glad that even a gardener admits to using canned tomatoes! Makes me feel better!
Ally @ Om Nom Ally says
Yum! I love fermented foods, Tex Mex is my favourite type of cuisine and salsa is my go-to dipping food – it’s as if this recipe was made just for me 😀
Thank for you sharing, I’ve pinned and will be sharing on social media this week.
Amanda Molly says
Ok, i am excited about this, my husband is from Dallas, and as any Texan, is also hardcore about his Tex-Mex. I love to make him food that reminds him of home! Our biggest challenge, however, has been queso! Do you have any experience or tips or recipes for a true Tex-mex queso that does not use processed cheese?? Would love love love some help.
There is a recipe for homemade “velveeta” on King Arthur’s website using cheddar and gelatin. If you do a google search for homemade velveeta you can find others that use bone broth too. Hope you find one you like!
Amanda Molly says
oh, interesting! I never thought of going at it from that angle! Thank you, i will definitely look into that.
I make fermented salsa using the recipe in Nourishing Traditions and love it. Sometimes when I open the jar after refrigeration it bubbles out the top, has anyone else had this experience? The ph is fine, around 3.75 and the taste is fine but I wonder why it sometimes happens and sometimes not.
Hi, I was excited to make this but there is 1/4 inch of clear liquid at the bottom of salsa, is that ok?
I have the same issue. (?)