If tacos are on the menu, salsa is a delicious dip to go with them. It might also complement many other recipes, elevating the tastes that are already there.
Although there are many other ways to make salsa, this pudding feels lacking without a little pepper, at least according to the traditional Mexican cuisine. The only unsettling aspect is that it can occasionally get too hot for your taste receptors.
There are methods for making salsa less hot if substituting it for another option is not an option. Of course, there is a chance that you will dilute the long-standing custom of spicy salsa, but what use is it if you have to always keep a glass of water handy?
That said, first on our list.
1. Dilute the Salsa
By this, we mean doubling the non-spicy ingredients in relation to the spicy ones. So have your tomatoes, onions, cilantro, served in higher ratios. Be careful with the garlic, as much as it is not in the chili family, large amounts could invoke heat sensations and affect the overall spiciness.
If it’s too late and you already have a hot bowl, don’t panic. Simply prepare another portion of salsa from scratch, this time with no peppers whatsoever. From here, add amounts of the spicy salsa into the fresh bowl and keep tasting until you get it right.
A final resort would be to add water. Not a glass of it, but very limited quantities. Now for this to work, the salsa baste has to be relatively thick or chunky, or else the outcome will turn watery. Further, you also risk diluting the inherent flavors if overdone. Proceed cautiously and double-check that your salsa can handle some fluid before adding any.
2. Increase the Acidity in the Salsa
Fun fact, acidity works averse to hotness, especially in foods. It has a way of toning down temperatures to make them more bearable. Salsa in itself has an inherent level of acidity and this is perhaps one of the ingredients behind its tangy flavor, however, when things get out of hand you can drive this up a notch.
Vinegar is also another viable option. Just be careful with the amounts so that it doesn’t become overpowering. A little goes a long way.
If you’re scared about tampering with the balance of flavors, tomato paste is a safer option. Better if you are blending your salsa because the paste will contribute to a nice smooth consistency.
3. Add Sweetness
Sugar and salt may not be everyone’s cup of tea but for the few willing to experiment with this dynamic, the result might be worthwhile. Reserved amounts are all you need. This might be ½- 1 teaspoon depending on how much salsa you have prepared. Very large quantities might require more.
To ensure you do not go above and beyond, start with small portions as you increase. Better to work with gradual increments than to get stuck with a bowl of sweet salsa.
4. Add Fried Onions
Fried onions are not just for your hotdogs and burgers, mixed into salsa they blend well and are tasty too. They also introduce some sweetness which as discussed above cuts down on the heat levels. But apart from this, fried onions are also fatty.
Fat is effective in breaking down the capsaicin coating, the element behind the burning sensation. Have enough fried onions and you could just about simmer down the spiciest salsa. Even if you feel a little tingle on your tongue, it won’t last long due to the weakened capsaicin bonds.
Stir-fried onion rings are preferred in this case, however, if you like to deep fry and give them a crunchy golden brown cover, that’s fine too.
5. Add Fruit
Fruits have a natural sweetness to them that does not seem as intimidating as immersing spoons of commercial sugar into your salsa. They are refreshing and could lend a bit of chew into your sauce especially if you’ve blended everything out.
Of course, how much fruit you’d like to incorporate is solely up to you, and choices such as pineapples, watermelon, and peaches work well. To restrain the sweetness, honeydew may be a better option since it does not carry a lot of sugar. However, if this is not a bother, even bananas are not off the table.
Have the fruits diced into small chunks and mixed well into the salsa so that everything is accommodated into one scoop. In the case of a blended salsa recipe, the smaller the bites, the better. Alternatively, have the fruits on the side separately. Either way, it serves the intended purpose.
6. Serve With Sour Cream
The logic behind sour cream is not far from that of increased acidity. The two are similar in that they do not require adding any extra ingredients to the vegetable salad. Just drizzle some sour cream, (mayonnaise or mustards are worthy alternatives too) and enjoy.
By doing this, the fat from the sour cream interrupts the capsaicin links thereby neutralizing the aggressive burning element.
The best part about applying this approach is that it is accommodating of both pepper lovers and those averse to hot foods. The latter get to serve with however much sour cream they like, while the first does not. So the next time you have guests over and are not sure whether to prepare your salsa mild or spicy, simply include some sour cream into your list of dips.
7. Serve With Cucumbers
Fleshier vegetables such as cucumbers are a quick way to solve the problem. They are crisp, cool, and have high water content. They also have a mild almost indetectable flavor hence do a phenomenal job absorbing the otherwise raging spice.
A few cucumber slices can do what water would only better now that the danger of over diluting is out of the way. Besides, the plant has a ton of health benefits that are vital to your body, so don’t be afraid to add generous amounts.
When you are out of cucumber and have an avocado within reach, use it instead. This is another fleshy item that’s going to suck in the heat just as well. But even aside from that, avocados and salsas make the perfect combo-guacamole.
You should consider it as a staple in your veggie salad, if not for anything- the brilliant taste.
8. Chop up Cilantro
Cilantro is a leafy herb with a great aroma and earthy flavor. The plant is a close relative of coriander and parsley and can be exchanged for either one. Customarily, it is a building block in the salsa recipe and one of the few non-spicy ingredients.
More cilantro is good unless you have reservations concerning its savor. Otherwise, think of it as a handy way of adding color to your red salsa.
Pick the Right Chilies Beforehand
Different chili varieties go into the making of the vegetable salad, the most popular being jalapenos, and red chili peppers. While these might be the standard types, it is not absurd to work with milder versions. After all, knowing how much heat you can handle should be the determining factor.
Bell peppers are very accommodating and will not sacrifice the overall profile of your salsa. You may hardly notice the difference because they fall quite low on the SHU scale (Scoville Heat Unit).
For a stronger dose try canned green chilies. They are no match for jalapenos but they introduce a fair heat equation. These together with raw tomatillos can substitute for red chilies.
If none of these seem tolerable, you could forego any spicy condiments altogether. The salsa will taste pretty much the same only without pepper. And as far as toppings go, you have creams, vinegar, and vegetable oils, so there’s nothing to lose.
1. Does salsa get hotter after canning?
Canning is one way to preserve salsa and it does not affect how hot the salsa gets. Protocol demands that you cool your salsa before jarring it, and it has to be cooked. You can expect a bit of a flavor change the longer it stays canned, however, it’s not a very big difference.
2. Can salsa get less spicy over time?
Salsa may taste less spicy when left to cool off for a while. This is especially true if your salsa was hot or warm in the first place when prepared. Letting it sit and breathe allows the spices to integrate with other ingredients such that they all blend and mellow out. This is more evident particularly when a refrigerator is used in the cooling process.
Word of caution, do not freeze it for many hours because the ice melts during thawing and becomes watery.
Salsa can be tweaked in several ways to suit your taste. It can be mild or hot depending on what you like. In that case, experiment with either one of the highlighted methods and determine what works best. Good luck.
Related: How Long Does Salsa Stay in the Fridge?