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Apr 22, 2003 06:21 PM

Best Salsa from a can (gasp!) or jar?

  • j

For years, I have been trying to track down small (7 oz.) cans of "El Pato" salsa here in the Bay Area. When worse comes to worst, I haul it home from Southern California. I like how spicy it is, and I like that it has a lot of other taste to it than just heat.

I think, however, that it is time to expand my salsa horizons. What is your favorite canned or jarred salsa?

Please, no recommendations to make my own, or to buy the refrigerated salsa. I know how to make my own, and do, but often just want to open a can -- especially when tomatoes aren't in season. I need something that I can stock up on.


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  1. I know you said not to say make your own a can of chipotle chiles and then open a can of tomatillos and dump them both into a blender with some garlic cloves, 3 or 4 or more and blend a couple of seconds. If not, Herdez Salsa Casera or Embasa Chile Ranchera.

    13 Replies
    1. re: Neta

      I second the recommendation for Herdez Salsa Casera. Herdez' Salsa Verde is okay too, but the Casera rocks.

      1. re: DanaB

        Herdez Salsa Casera is packed in cans and jars. It's probably just my imagination, but I think that the stuff in the cans is not as good.

        So, my recommendation is also for Herdez Salsa Casera. In jars.

        1. re: ChrissieH

          Herdez Salsa Casera by a landslide. No cabe duda.

          1. re: ChrissieH

            That's funny! I think it's better in the cans. Plus, the size of the can is perfect for one serving (although the leftovers keep pretty well in the fridge). Perhaps it's a difference in the heat? I think the cans are "hot" and the jars are medium (at least at my market).

            1. re: DanaB

              Well, maybe then there's no real difference - and it's all in my imagination.

              The stuff in jars comes in mild, medium and hot - I believe. The hot is really hot. I suspect that where you are, you're not getting the hot stuff in the jars.

              To me, the canned variety has a metallic taste.

              But I've never done a side-by-side test. Probably should.

              1. re: DanaB

                Wanted to add that what I do when I open a jar of Herdez (either the Casera or the Verde), is to have some as a snack or appetizer, but plan to use the remainder to prepare dinner sometime later that week.

                My favorite is to take some fillets of fish (I keep a big bag of Orange Roughy fillets from Sam's in the freezer), put them on a baking sheet, dump the rest of the salsa over, and bake for about 15 minutes or so.

                This is a wonderful, healthful, quick and easy main course.

                With it I usually serve some corn, refried beans, tortillas, and avocado and orange salad.

                You simply can't beat it. It's my very favorite way to prepare fish and I never have the problem of a jar of salsa going bad in the fridge.

          2. re: Neta

            I like the Herdez salsa verde, but prefer La CosteƱa brand (also from Mexico) for salsa casera. Comes in both a can or a jar. I prefer the cans, only because I can stack them up better in my cramped kitchen.

            1. re: butterfly

              Butterfly, where can I get Herdez or La Costena in the DC area? Thanks.

              1. re: elyhtak

                You live in Dupont Circle, right? You should be able to get Herdez and La Costena at the Pena Spanish Store on 17th (they also have pretty good sandwiches). They also usually sell them at Safeway (at least they do on Columbia Road). If you want to go a bit further, Todito grocery on Columbia is a very good latin store with a somewhat wider variety from Mexico, Central and South America (the salsa is in the aisle furthest to the left). There's also a latin store near 14 and S (El Paraiso, I think, next to Go Mama Go!).

                1. re: elyhtak

                  Herdez is also avaliable at Harris Teeter stores

              2. re: Neta

                I like Herdez Salsa Ranchera. I put it on everything and anything

                1. re: Neta

                  When you blend tomatillos and chipotles, don't you end up with something looking like mud? A lot of the charm of salsas verde is their color.

                  1. re: Sharuf

                    No, it doesn't faintly resemble mud. You end up with a delicious dark red smoky hot salsa that goes great on everything. I did forget to mention you add the liquid from the tomatillos and then some water if too thick for ones preference.

                2. This is surely a geographical bias, but we live and die by Green Mountain Gringo. Comes in three "heats" -- the mild is even a little too spicy for the pups. The couple who make it lived in SoCal for a while, and when they moved back to Vermont, the only way they could get the decent salsa they craved was to make it themselves. And then they started bottling it. And the rest is history. Damn good.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: GG Mora
                    Laughing Goddess

                    Gotta second the Green Mountain Gringo in a jar. Good stuff, and the hot stuff makes me especially happy. Must be those endorphins. :-)


                    1. re: Laughing Goddess

                      Third-ing the Green Mtn. Gringo, they have the freshest tasting salsa of all jarred brands :}

                      1. re: alex

                        add another vote for Green Mountain Gringo!
                        LOVE it. Very fresh. When in a pinch, I even (gasp) make gazpacho with it...

                        1. re: budino

                          Nothing much to add, but I love it too. Definitely my favorite salsa. I like the mild, because you can taste the veggies more and even the medium is quite hot.

                          1. re: budino
                            Laughing Goddess

                            Ooh, how do you doctor it up to make gazpacho? It's almost gazpacho time of year, ya know. :-)

                            1. re: Laughing Goddess

                              I suspect a quick pulse or two in the Cuisinart, some diced cuke and splash of OO would do it. Damn. I'm gonna have to run out and try that.

                              Just to make you all jealous, there's a place nearby where I can get the food-service sized (gallon?) jars for about 20 bucks.

                              1. re: GG Mora

                                DEFINITELY jealous of the huge jar availabiltiy! We go through a ton of this stuff in the summer.

                                Here's the gazpacho recipe, though I'm sure any natural improvised method would work too (as GG mentioned). I call this "trash gazpacho" because of the jarred salsa and the boxed croutons (I'm generally much more of a naturalist), but I swear it's fantastic.


                    2. I recently discovered Paul Newman's Pineapple Salsa. Sounds unusual, but it tastes terrific!

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: LisaN
                        Marion Morgenthal

                        I absolutely concur about Newman's Pineapple salsa---I just wish it were easier to find. Equally good, and harder yet to find is Newman's Peach salsa.

                        1. re: Marion Morgenthal

                          Marion - from your post on another board it seems you may live in Brooklyn. If so, the dreaded Met Food on Smith and Baltic carries several varieties of the Newman's salsas.

                          1. re: Dipsy
                            Marion Morgenthal

                            Thanks Dipsy. I do indeed live in Carroll Gardens--I'll have to check it out. I usually use the dreaded Key Food on Court Street--except when I do my real shopping at Shoprite on Avenue I.

                        2. re: LisaN

                          My husband the salsa fiend also loves the Newman's pineapple salsa. I'm not a big jarred salsa fan but I serve it to guests and it's always devoured.

                        3. Rick Bayless' Frontera Salsas are expensive, but are really good. For a special occasion, when you don't have time to make your own...they are worthy of serving to guests. My favorites are the chipotle and roasted tomato ones--can't remember the official names offhand. I make roasted chile salsa every few months and break it down into small containers for the freezer. That way I have it on hand whenever I need it, and only make it when I'm in the mood...

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: zora
                            david in NOLa

                            I agree that the Frontera stuff is quite good. I make salsa 90% of the time that I eat it, but when I buy it, it's almost always one of the Frontera varieties.

                            1. re: david in NOLa

                              I've used Frontera Grill salsas for years--since first falling in love with the restaurant in Chicago. What I do with them, however, is braise chicken and pork in them. Not just the ones labelled "cooking salsa" but in the regular ones too. All are good.

                              1. re: Coyote

                                Frontera brand salsas are available for a reasonable price at Cost Plus.

                                1. re: JudiAU

                                  Frontera Grill salsas are also available for a less reasonable price at William Sonoma. How I wish I had Cost Plus and Trader Joe's in FL!

                                2. re: Coyote

                                  Frontera Guajillo Salsa has a terrific recipe (quick and easy) for doing shrimp on the stove. Works for me!

                            2. What I've had over the past several months:

                              Some I like best are DL Jardine's Campfire Roasted(Medium), DL Jardine's Chipotle Salsa(Medium), Herdez Salsa Casera, and On the Border Salsa(Hot). I don't consider any of those to be particularly hot.

                              Another I get from time to time is Sadies' Not So Hot, but it's a little too simple in flavor to suit me. The Not So Hot is still hotter than the salsas I previously mentioned.

                              Some of the 505 brand salsas taste decent, but they have an aroma that I don't care for.

                              I've had Arriba Fire Roasted Red which was decent. Can't remember if I had the Medium or Hot(I think it was Hot), but I remember thinking it needed more heat.

                              I've had Frontera Cilantro Jalapeno. Thought it was okay but had a little too much cilantro in it for my tastes. Also needed more heat. (I wish Herdez Salsa Casera had a little more cilantro in it which would make it about as good as bottled/canned salsa could probably be.)

                              Also had a few others that don't deserve mention.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Chimayo Joe

                                Correction on the Jardine salsas--it's Jardine 7J Ranch brand not DL Jardine. Same company, different product line.