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Salsa vs. Pico de Gallo

I have to admit, when it comes to salsas, I am a bit of a wimp. I do love salsa, but I am not a huge fan of hot foods. I go easy on the hot peppers. In the past couple of years I have become a huge fan of pico de gallo. Yesterday I started wondering just what the difference is between salsa and pico de gallo. Are they the same thing??


In my research to find out the difference between pico de gallo and salsa, I found out some interesting facts.

pico de gallo

"Salsa" is actually a Spanish word for sauce, so technically pico de gallo IS a type of salsa.

The difference between traditional salsa and pico de gallo is in how they are prepared.

Traditional salsa is cooked, and pico de gallo is fresh not cooked. Both can contain a variety of fresh ingredients, but generally pico de gallo has fewer ingredients. Here is a basic recipe for pico de gallo.

Pico de Gallo

8 Roma tomatoes, cored and diced
1 cup onion, diced
1 or 2 large jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and finely diced
1/4 cup lime juice (approx. 2 large limes)
1/2 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
Salt (to taste)

Combine all ingredients, adding about a teaspoon of salt to taste. It can be eaten right away but tastes even better the next day.

The recipe for salsa is very similar, but might have a few added ingredients like bell peppers and garlic. Because the salsa is cooked, it also has more of a sauce-like consistency.

Another difference between pico de gallo and salsa is that you can preserve homemade salsa by canning it in a pressure cooker, but you cannot can pico de gallo. Cooking it takes away its signature fresh qualities and turns it into traditional salsa. It is still good, but no longer pico de gallo! If it is not fresh, it is not pico de gallo. Here are instructions for canning homemade salsa.

The tomatoes in my garden are starting to come into full harvest. I have a variety of tomatoes, some red and some yellow, which makes for some beautiful salsas. Now that I know the difference between pico de gallo and traditional salsa I realize that I have been a big fan of pico de gallo all along. It is definitely my preference of the two, there is nothing like it (except maybe peach mango salsa!).

Copyright 2012, Creative Homemaking, LLC.

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Rachel Paxton
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