Oasis Newsfeatures The Amish Cook The Kitchen Scientist Family Daze Guest Writer


I love a good, thick, tangy, chunky homemade salsa to dunk a crisp chip into. No double-dipping, though!

Salsa is a relatively new dish among the Amish. Food trends that sweep the rest of the country do eventually find there way into Amish kitchens, where the Amish cooks add their own signature simple splashes to a recipe. Salsa is one such trend. Many Amish now grow their own jalapeno peppers and have their own salsa recipes. The Amish will add their own variations to the dish, just like Elizabeth has done by adding bits and pieces of other garden goodies to the mix. This creates an wonderfully flavorful salsa bursting with vegetable flavors.

Elizabeth's salsa canning techniques, however, recently raised concern from a Purdue University extension agent in Indiana. The agent had concerns over the use of "Clear Jel" in her recipe. Clear-Jel is a brand-name thickening that can be found in most supermarkets across the country. Look in the baking or the Jello products section.

Purdue University kindly offered to use their labs to test Elizabeth's salsa. I found the idea intriguing, I thought it would offer an interesting public education. But I never force any of our modern ways on Elizabeth, so I suggested the idea to her and let her decide.

"Well, we've been making our salsa for years and no one has ever been sick, so I don't think there's a need for that," was Elizabeth's reaction. After years of knowing Elizabeth, I could tell the case was closed, that she would not be persuaded to have her salsa tested. Purdue University's extension department, however, was nice enough to provide readers with an informative explanation of their Clear-Jel concerns, insight into proper canning techniques and some good salsa recipes.

Meanwhile, for informational purposes, Elizabeth's salsa recipe uses the following ingredients:

14 pounds of tomatoes (scalded and peeled and cut-up)
5 cups of onions (chopped), 10 green peppers (chopped)
2 ounces or more jalapeno peppers (chopped)
1 cup vinegar
1/ 2 cup brown sugar
1/ 4 cup salt
2 teaspoons oregano flakes
3 teaspoon cumin
3 teaspoons chili power
1 teaspoon garlic powder
10 teaspoons of Clear-Jel (a thickening sold in most supermarkets).

Kevin Williams
Executive Editor
Oasis Newsfeatures