The Critical Mistake To Avoid When Blending Salsas At Home
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The Critical Mistake To Avoid When Blending Salsas At Home

Jun 26, 2023

A fantastic way of making salsa at home is by doing it old school: Put the various ingredients in a big mortar and pestle (ideally a molcajete bowl made from a single piece of volcanic rock) and mash 'em to chunky perfection. Of course, personal taste and resources might necessitate a different method — maybe you don't own a mortar and pestle, or perhaps you prefer your salsa mixed up in a blender for smoother results. Famed chef and author Rick Martinez recently gave some expert advice on this very topic: "Never blend a salsa in a blender above medium-low speed," Martinez told Tasting Table. "The higher the speed on the blender the more air you will incorporate into your salsa and it will eventually become a smoothie and have a very frothy texture."

Martinez should know. His 2022 cookbook, "Mi Cocina: Recipes and Rapture from My Kitchen in Mexico," is a veritable love letter to this varied and wondrous cuisine. Despite what you might think, he's not a stickler for supposedly authentic techniques. Martinez recommends not only having a good blender on hand but also using it for making salsa. Therefore, his one admonishment of maintaining a low blending speed should be accepted as gospel.

The art of combining tomatoes, chilies, and other ingredients goes back hundreds of years to Aztec culture, when vendors sold sauces made from mild, hot, red, yellow, and smoked chilies, as well as tomatoes and squash seeds. But that isn't to say that salsa can't benefit from today's technology.

Where a traditional mortar and pestle crushes salsa ingredients (and in our and many other people's opinion, produces a more flavorful sauce), the blades of a blender chop. This in itself isn't a bad thing, just as long as you're aware that the spinning of the blades also produces a vortex in order to blend the food being chopped. This vortex, as you can imagine, introduces air into the mixture — quite a bit if you're blending at high speed. So, take Rick Martinez's advice and blend your homemade salsa on low. As Martinez told Tasting Table: "Nobody wants a smoothie on their taco!"