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Homemade salsa scoops up a win

Critic's favorite salsa maker says he likes tomatoes because they're good for men

September 05, 2010|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- Darl Hospelhorn likes his salsa chunky and he likes it mildly spicy.

And he's not alone.

Hospelhorn's salsa recipe won critic's choice during a Tomato Tasting event hosted by the Penn State Cooperative Extension office of Franklin County, Pa.

The tasting gauged the public's interest in more than 20 tomato varieties, news commercial tomato growers can use.

"Because commercial growers can grow and plant well, but the public might not like the taste," said Master Gardeners coordinator Linda Secrist.

Secrist said four people entered this year's salsa contest. The people's choice winner was Sheila Keebaugh, of Needmore, Pa.

Hospelhorn, 69, won critic's choice for his recipe.

His recipe puts to good use the fruits of his garden. The Burgermaster and Better Boy tomatoes, the sweet and hot peppers and fresh garlic are grown at his Waynesboro, Pa., home. He also uses fresh herbs and spices, though he said store-bought, dried varieties wouldn't ruin the recipe.

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Hospelhorn's recipe is adapted from one he received from a former colleague. His friend's recipe called for tomatillos, a husk-covered, green fruit often used in salsas. But Hospelhorn doesn't like tomatillos, so he omitted them.

His preference is to use sliceable tomatoes that he grows in his garden, but he said tomato options are open-ended.

Peeled, and quartered tomatoes are incorporated with onions, and sweet and hot peppers.

The mixture is seasoned with cilantro and basil and left to stew in a big pot for 20 minutes, thickened with a bit of corn starch and pressure canned for later use.

Hospelhorn said he makes 25 quarts of salsa a year - and that's a decrease from the 50 quarts he said he used to make.

"I'm just a tomato-holic," Hospelhorn said.

In the winter, he and his wife, Sandra, head to their Florida home. The best part about the trip? The fresh tomatoes, he said.

"Someone told me that tomatoes were good for men," said Hospelhorn, who's a retired sales engineer with Landis Tool Company.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, cooked tomatoes are a good source of lycopene, a phytochemical that neutralizes the free radicals that damage cells in our bodies.

The USDA's Agricultural Research Service references a Harvard study in which men who ate more than 10 servings of tomato-based foods daily cut the risk of developing prostate cancer by 35 percent.

Gardeners are harvesting tomatoes now, though the hot, dry weather left many with smaller tomatoes and smaller yields, said Hospelhorn, who's a Master Gardener.

But those tomatoes might be packing more flavor, which has become more concentrated despite lack of water and smaller fruit size, Hospelhorn said.

One more reason to whip up some homemade salsa.




Darl Hospelhorn's salsa



5 quarts ripe tomatoes, quartered and peeled
5 to 6 large onions
1 quart sweet green peppers, seeded and cut in half
3/4 cup jalapeno peppers, coarsely chopped
10 cloves of garlic or 5 teaspoons garlic powder
10 tablespoons red wine vinegar
5 teaspoons fresh basil
10 teaspoons fresh cilantro
1/4 cup salt
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup cornstarch

To peel the tomatoes, place them in water and heat, allowing them to soak but not cook.

Before heating the water, reserve 1 cup of the tomato water for later use. Once the tomatoes have soaked, remove the tomato skins and cut into quarters.

In a food processor, coarsely chop the onions, peppers and garlic cloves. Incorporate all the ingredients except the cornstarch in a large pot over medium heat, stirring to prevent sticking.

The salsa will cook for 20 minutes on the stove. In the meantime, dilute the cornstarch with the reserved tomato water and add it to the salsa pot after 15 minutes.

If canning, pour the salsa into jars, leaving a 1/2-inch of space at the top. Place the jars in a pressure canner for 8 minutes at 5 pounds.

Yields 15 to 16 pints.

-Recipe courtesy Master Gardener Darl Hospelhorn, of Waynesboro, Pa.

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