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Salsa with Canned Tomatoes

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Q. I live on a remote island in the South Pacific — Palau. We do not have access to fresh tomatoes to make salsa. Can you use canned tomatoes to make salsa for canning?

A. You clearly have not walked down the condiments aisle of the grocery stores in the US, where the shelves are bulging with dozens, probably hundreds, of brands of bottled salsa — all of which are basically canned tomatoes. It is increasingly popular and sometimes very successful to make fresh salsa, but if you took an opinion poll in this country, we think you'd find that the majority of the population has only eaten bottled salsa. A sad commentary, perhaps, but there you are….

On the other hand, those of us who live in cold climates, and only have access to flavorless things that look like tomatoes for many months of the year, are better off making salsa with canned tomatoes. For a good salsa, you need tomatoes with lots of flavor, and generally food processors only choose flavorful tomatoes for canning. So your Palau-canned-tomato salsa may be more successful than our New England winter salsa fresca.

And tell us again why you can't — or no one does — grow tomatoes in Palau?

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