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October 13, 2014


I acquired a recipe a while back that was allegedly the salsa from The Tortilla Factory in Herndon, VA.

Problem is, I can't QUITE get it right.  Last time I thought it was because I switched ground red pepper and crushed red pepper flakes.  You don't want a tablespoon of ground red pepper (cayenne) in anything!  I managed to subdue it with a lot of brown sugar.

This time, I had several pounds of tomatoes from my garden, nearly enough to make this recipe, so I thought I'd try again.  I had to buy a few tomatoes to get enough.

To follow the recipe, I had to acquire 29 ounces of crushed tomatoes, which, of course, I had to look up how to do.


 First I had to remove the skins.  You do this by cutting a shallow X in the side opposite the stem, dropping them in boiling water for a short period (I waited until I could see the skin around the X start to pull away) and then drop them in ice water.  The skin pulls off easily.



You're left with creepy, naked tomatoes.  These things are SLIPPERY.  Really, really slippery.  "Slippery as a skinned tomato" is now going to be my new description for things that are really hard to pick up and threaten to shoot across them room if you squeeze them too hard.  

Next I was supposed to quarter them, cut out the stem part and any hard or bad bits, and scoop out the seeds and water.  This was rather challenging, due to their slippery nature and the fiddlyness of the seeds.


I essentially destroyed these tomatoes.  I just ended up using my hands, and was grateful the phone never rang, because they were covered in tomato juice and pulpy bits.

The part after was to mash it up well.  The instructions I had weren't clear if you were supposed to do this while cooking, but I started it in a bowl and then continued mashing the more stubborn bits while it cooked.




That's technically a potato masher, but since I've never actually used it to mash potatoes, it is officially my tomato masher.  It worked really well for this step.



Now it's starting to look right!  once this finished cooking, I could have also turned it into pizza sauce, or just saved it for a future project, which is what I probably should have done.  I'm not sure if I could have turned it into soup, or if that's a completely different project.

I measured before and after processing.  I had 3.75 pounds of tomatoes before, and after I ended up with 32 ounces of sauce.  I'm sure this will vary, but at least it's enough for a quart.



I next added my ingredients for the salsa.  This is pre oil and vinegar stage, and I should probably have stopped there, because after this is where things went wrong.  The vinegar completely overwhelmed the salsa, to the point where I had heartburn all night after tasting it.  I'm not sure even brown sugar can save this.  


The second problem was that I decided to put it in the mixer to get rid of some of the chunks, and, well, it turned ORANGE.  It was certainly NOT orange when I did an initial stirring before putting it in the blender.  This hadn't happened the first time!  From what I read online, it has something to do with oxygen being mixed in too fast, or at least that seems to be the main guess of other people.  

I'm pretty upset that it turned out so disappointingly.  I opted to freeze it anyway, since I can't have chips right now due to oral surgery.  I separated it into lots of smaller bags, so once in a while I may get up the nerve to play with one and see if I can't make it palatable.  

I don't feel right providing the recipe, but it can easily be found by doing an Internet search for Tortilla Factory Salsa.