Salsa brava

Salsa (sauce)

Salsa is the Spanish, Arabic, and Italian word that can refer to any type of sauce. In American English it usually refers to the spicy, often tomato- or corn-based hot sauces typical of Mexican cuisine, particularly those used as dips. In British English, the word typically refers to salsa cruda, which is common in Mexican, Spanish and Italian cuisine.

Pronunciation and etymology

The word salsa is derived from the Latin salsa ("salty"), from sal ("salt"). Saline and salad are related words. It is usually pronounced [ˈsɑːlsə] by English speakers; in Spanish it is .


Mexican salsas were traditionally produced using the mortar and pestle-like molcajete, although blenders are now more commonly used. Well-known salsas include

There are many other salsas, both traditional and nouveau for instance, some are made with mint, pineapple, or mango.

Health issues

Care should be taken in the preparation and storage of salsa, since many raw-served varieties can act as a growth medium for potentially dangerous bacteria, especially when unrefrigerated. In 2002, a study appearing in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, conducted by the University of Texas-Houston Medical School, found that 66% of the sauces tested (71 samples tested, sauces being either: salsa, guacamole, or pico de gallo) from restaurants in Guadalajara, Jalisco and 40% of those from Houston, Texas, were contaminated with E. coli bacteria, although only the sauces from Guadalajara contained the types of E. coli that cause diarrhea. The researchers found that the Mexican sauces from Guadalajara contained fecal contaminants and higher levels of the bacteria more frequently than those of the sauces from Houston, possibly as a result of more common improper refrigeration of the Mexican sauces.

American commercially prepared salsa

Most jarred, canned, and bottled salsa and picante sauces sold in the United States in grocery stores under brand names like La Victoria, Tostitos, Pace, Clint's Picante, Old El Paso, Ortega, Taco Bell, Carrillo's Fire-Roasted Salsa, Bandana Bandito and Newman's Own are forms of salsa cruda / pico de gallo, but to increase their shelf life, have been cooked and have vinegar added.

Unlike fresh salsa cruda, these commercial jarred, canned, and bottled salsas typically have a semi-liquid texture more akin to that of canned tomatoes, and often resemble chunky commercial spaghetti sauces. So-called "chunky salsa" appears to be the most popular form of jarred salsa currently. More expensive brands tend to have more chunks of vegetables in them. Blended salsas such as Xerarch's Nice N' Hot Salsa have gained popularity due to their less watery consistency and full flavor "chipability".

While some salsa fans decry these products as not real salsa cruda, their widespread availability and long shelf life are credited with much of salsa's enormous popularity in states outside of the southwest, especially in places where salsa is not a traditional part of the cuisine.

Many grocery stores in the United States also sell "fresh," refrigerated salsa, usually in plastic containers. Fresh salsa is usually more expensive and has a shorter shelf life than canned or jarred salsa. It may or may not contain vinegar.

There are fresh all-natural jarred salsa products produced regionally as well that do not use artificial ingredients or chemicals to enhance shelf life. Among the most well known are Carrillo's Fire-Roasted Salsa made in Rye, New York, El Pinto Salsa made by The Salsa Twins, and Jim & John Thomas in New Mexico. In 1992, Packaged Facts, a food marketing research group, found that the dollar amount of salsa sales had overtaken those of ketchup (but not in total volume). This may be partly due to salsa spoiling faster than other condiments, and may be purchased more often than condiments with longer shelf lives.

Picante sauce is a term coined by condiment maker David Pace for his own version of salsa. Picante sauce is usually a little more pureed than bottled salsa, but is chunkier than fresh red salsa. Picante is a Spanish adjective that derives from picar, which means "to sting", referring to the feeling caused by salsas on one's tongue (compare the English word piquant).


External links

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