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How to Thicken Salsa (When It’s Too Watery)

How to Thicken Salsa (When It’s Too Watery)

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When it comes to making salsa, there are often more things that can go wrong than you might expect at first. From ingredients not doing what they are supposed to, to the taste being off, it can sometimes be difficult to get the right salsa recipe down.

One of the most common complaints that people have about their salsa is that it is too watery. Nobody wants a watery dip, no matter what they are using the salsa for. With that being said, there are a few different ways that you can go about fixing up your watery salsa.

You can always add cornstarch to your salsa as a last resort, but one of the better things to do is going to be to look at what is in the salsa and the ingredients. Sometimes it is the addons, such as the garlic, cilantro, and the onion. Adding just the right ingredients to your salsa can make all of the difference in terms of thickness.

First things first, you should consider what you are putting into your salsa, starting with the tomatoes.

Rethinking the Ingredients

Roma Tomatoes

One of the quickest ways to change up your salsa is, understandably, going to be to rethink what ingredients you are using. When you are doing this, you are going to want to make sure that you start from the very beginning: at the tomatoes you are using.

If you have been having problems with watery salsa, you should consider using Roma tomatoes specifically. Roma tomatoes are firmer than your traditional tomato, meaning that when you blend them up to make your salsa, you are going to be left with a thicker consistency.

If you don’t have any Roma tomatoes near you, you should consider what kind of tomatoes you are using in general. You should always, always look for firmer, younger tomatoes.

The fresher the tomato, the fresher the taste is going to be, and the thicker the salsa itself is going to end up being since young tomatoes tend to be much firmer than other tomatoes.

Secondly, you should think about the additional ingredients you are adding to your salsa. Of course, if you are working with a specific recipe, you should stick with that. However, you should have an idea of what ingredients can alter a salsa recipe more than others.

For example, adding chunky vegetables such as bell peppers, spicy peppers, and chilies, are going to increase the crispy texture of your salsa.

Bowl of Peppers

Mango, avocado, cucumber, and tomatillos can easily change the thickness of your salsa, but unfortunately, they can severely change the flavor profile of the salsa itself. For some people, it is easy to work around this. For other people, this flavor change will be something to avoid.

Mango tends to make the salsa sweeter, whereas tomatillos bring a certain type of warmth to the salsa. Avocados will absolutely make the salsa thicker, but it will also end up being creamier. Cucumbers will add a nice, cool touch to the salsa, which is generally something you will want to avoid if you are looking for a spicy dish.

These are some of the ways you can change the salsa’s consistency without adding anything too drastic, like cornstarch. You can also consider the way you are preparing the salsa, as this might be one of the reasons why the salsa ends up being thicker than it should be.

Rethinking the Salsa-Making Process

Chopping Fresh Cilantro By Hand

The one thing you are going to want to avoid when working with salsa is overprocessing it. Overprocessing your salsa will lead to it being a thin, watery mess, which is something that nobody wants.

However, you might not want to chop up all of the vegetables on your own. There is a quick and easy solution to this.

If you do not have the time or patience to individually chop all of the ingredients, you can usually get away with processing the majority of the ingredients. Just make sure that tomatoes, onions, and cilantro remain hand-cut if you want your salsa to be nice, thick, and chunky.

Leaving the most important ingredients to be chopped by hand will ensure that the important parts of the salsa’s flavor profile remain thick and delicious, leaving you with a delectable salsa that people will love.

When all is said and done though, you might still need to add cornstarch to the salsa. Thankfully, this procedure is easy enough as long as you know what you are measuring out.

Adding the Cornstarch

Scoop of Cornstarch

The first rule of adding cornstarch is to remember never to boil the salsa and the cornstarch together for more than one minute. This will end up breaking all of the cornstarch down, leaving you back to where you started.

Speaking of where you started, you should begin adding the cornstarch by first placing about one tablespoon of cornstarch in a bowl for every cup of salsa that you are planning to thicken.

Once you have done that, you are going to want to add an equal amount of water to the bowl so that you can begin stirring the cornstarch and water up. As you are stirring, you should begin to form a paste.

Once the cornstarch is sufficiently pasty, you will want to put the salsa in a saucepan on the stove. The stove should be turned up to a medium heat, and you should work to try to bring the salsa to a simmer.

From here, you should whisk the cornstarch paste into the salsa in the saucepan. Make sure that you are stirring continuously, heating the salsa for 30 to 60 seconds. After this is done, you should bring the salsa to a boil for no more than one minute before reducing the heat and bringing it back down to a simmer.

Bringing the salsa to a boil helps to remove the starchy taste from the starch paste that you just added to the salsa, but remember not to leave it boiling for more than a minute, as this will only end up reversing all of your progress and nobody really wants that to happen.

After the salsa has been boiled for a bit, you are going to want to remove it from the stove and check to make sure that it is sufficiently thickened. If not, you can repeat this procedure.

Because salsa tends to contain acids, you sometimes need to increase the amount of cornstarch that you put in, especially if you want a very thick salsa.


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