Every few months whether on personal or business travel I find myself near a Trader Joe’s and cannot help myself to a few bags of products. I am sure that some of my TJ’s love is a direct function of the fact that I do not have a store near, so many of the products seem unusual or new to me. Heck, to a lot of regular customers the rapidity and randomness of items’ arrival and disappearance is a mystery to them as well.
One item in particular—Corn and Chile Tomato-less Salsa—was a true find. Not only was this stuff good on chips by itself, but it was a great addition to a bowl of quinoa along with some black beans to make a knockout quick lunch. Too bad my couple of jars did not last that long.
This is where my desire to bust out the canning supplies comes in handy. I checked out the ingredients:
corn, sugar, onions, red bell peppers, jalapeño peppers, distilled vinegar, spices, salt, guar gum.
Nothing revelatory or really odd. Seems like a lot of sugar, but that is easy to take care of when I make my own version at home. I can axe the guar gum because that is to help the appearance and I could care less. So, really, we are talking about an ingredient set that I could pretty much rustle up from my pantry. Why exactly did I buy this stuff again?
The internet delivered lots of recipe variations. Apparently, people are pretty much obsessed with Trader Joe’s. My gain. I combed through the recipes to get the ratios right and added my own “spin” because I like a little more heat. I also did not know what I was going to do with ½ of a red pepper and jalapeno, so I upped the amount to an entire one of each. Here’s what I started with for a recipe:
2 cups corn
1 cup onion
½ sweet bell pepper
½ jalapeno pepper
1 Tbsp. salt
¾ tsp. ground mustard
¼ tsp. Pepper
¼ tsp. cumin
Sugar to taste
Mix all ingredients together in a sauce pan on the stove, and heat until almost boiling. Let cool and then transfer into a resealable container. Store in fridge for up to a month.
Some recipes called for up to a half cup of sugar, which I felt was a little excessive. I probably put a quarter cup into this batch to balance out some of the extra heat from the whole jalapeno, but your palate may be different.
Here’s what it looked like in jars:
There is not a lot of liquid in the corn salsa because you do not add anything extra, so it is just the result of the sugar and released water combining to make a sweet, syrupy binder. I prefer it this way because it makes for a useful addition to so many recipes and quick meals without watering things down or making everything taste like tomato liquid.
I also chose not to can this batch because I wanted to see how it turned out. This summer, when I am swimming in fresh corn, I am going to have to can some of this because storage space in the refrigerator will be at a premium. Oh, I cannot wait for late summer.