The Best Tomatoes For Smoky, Fresh Or Spicy Summer Salsa

If you didn't already know, tomatoes are warm-weather fruits, which means the seeds are planted early in the year, around January — and in the Northern Hemisphere, they will be ready for harvesting July through September, perfect timing for those hot summer months. 

Choosing the right tomato significantly affects your easy-to-serve summer plate — nobody wants watery salsa. The tomato choice is important due to its water content, wide range of flavor profiles, and the other infamous salsa killer: too many seeds. The chips you use to scoop up the salsa? Well, that's entirely your preference!

Whether it's a day at the beach day, a picnic in the park, or a house party where everyone gathers around the television to watch a game, we're here to tell all about the best tomatoes for your spicy summer salsa fiesta! Plus, as a bonus treat, we reveal the tomato to accompany your salsa in a delicious Bloody Mary cocktail. Salud!

Roast plum tomatoes for a smoky salsa

Roasting plum tomatoes will caramelize the natural sugars they contain and create a mouth-watering sweet, smoky flavor that will tantalize your taste buds. To roast them properly, cut the tomatoes in half length-wise. Some recipes call for long hours of slow-roasting, but broiling works just as well, and it's faster.  Nevertheless, this easy-to-do cooking method will intensify the tomatoes' flavor.

In addition, roasting plum tomatoes can actually improve overall health by significantly increasing the absorption of lycopene, a potent nutrient that helps combat cancer and the aging process, according to Dr. Edward Giovannucci, Harvard professor of nutrition and epidemiology. And, as well as having cancer-fighting components, plum tomatoes are rich in antioxidants and vitamins C, and A, plus calcium, and potassium. So, the next time you are searching for that nutritious tomato for your salsa or salad, consider roasting some delectable plum tomatoes!

Beefsteak tomatoes are perfect for pico de gallo

Pico de gallo, a beloved Mexican dish, is highly revered for its exceptional taste and texture. Pico de gallo is also known as salsa cruda (raw salsa), salsa Mexicana, or salsa fresca (fresh salsa), and, unlike regular salsa, it boasts firm, low-seed tomatoes. To achieve the best results, opt for Beefsteak tomatoes as the base for this authentic Mexican delicacy. Beefsteak tomatoes contain a small number of seeds, which ruin pico de gallo by adding a bitter taste.

These specific tomatoes impart a relish-like texture that sets pico de gallo apart from other salsas, making it an ideal option for both dipping and spreading. The Beefsteak tomato is very sturdy and firm, and it won't weaken your chip, causing it to break halfway to your mouth. Dice or chop the Beefsteak tomato into little cubes alongside onions (white or red work fine), fresh lime juice, chile peppers, and fresh cilantro. Enjoy this delectable sauce any time, as it is a year-round treat that is sure to please any palate.

For spicy salsa use the Amish Paste tomato

When it comes to creating salsa with a proper kick, selecting the right tomato is crucial to add to the fiery taste. The Amish communities that farm in the states of Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania have been cultivating these heirloom delicacies for centuries. Amish Paste tomatoes are a fantastic choice due to their substantial size and ideal water and seed content.

In comparison to Roma tomatoes, which can be a bit thin and more watery, Amish Paste tomatoes possess a meaty and thick texture, ensuring they will be noticed when combined with other bold ingredients. They are also substantially more prominent in size, so there's more to go around! Spicy salsas should be made to taste, depending on how much spice you can handle, but when it comes to whipping up salsa recipes that are packed with punch and flavor, Amish Paste tomatoes are undoubtedly the optimal choice.

Choose tomatillos for salsa verde

Tomatoes come in all colors, from reds, yellows, oranges, to purple and green. However, for the sake of salsa verde (aka green salsa), you'll be sadly disappointed if you purchase green tomatoes, which are unripe red tomatoes, naturally tasting bitter and even acidic. It would be best if you had tomatillos for this Mexican condiment. For a top-quality tomatillo for your salsa recipe, the Super Verde Tomatillo comes highly recommended. Although they may look similar to green tomatoes, tomatillos have distinct flavors and should not be used interchangeably. 

Tomatillos, which are matured Mexican husk tomatoes, have a unique tangy and tart taste that can enhance the flavor of green salsa. Some tomatillos even have an apple flavor that stands out in Mexican recipes. Tomatillo directly translates to "little tomato," but they can vary in size. They are also known in Spanish as "miltomates" and can be found year-round in Latin countries or Latin supermarkets. 

Color your summer with purple salsa

Suppose you are someone who is captivated by the striking green color of tomatillos. In that case, you might be even more fascinated by their rare sibling in a remarkable purple shade. The purple tomatillo, a fruit about the size of a golf ball, is enveloped in a delicate paper-like covering. As the fruit ripens, the husk transforms from a vibrant green to a warm brown hue and eventually splits open, revealing the matured violet fruit inside. 

These exceptional tomatillos possess a fakadelightful sweetness that distinguishes them from their green counterparts, making them an excellent choice for creating sweet and spicy salsas. Purple tomatillos have a tangy flavor profile with a notable level of sweetness that surpasses that of green tomatillos. A unique blend of citrus, plum, and pear flavors enhances any salsa recipe's flavor. Try roasting them in the oven, which imparts a rich and smoky taste to any salsa morada (purple salsa) recipe.

Use the Amana Orange tomato to impress your guests

The Amana Orange tomato, from the Amana colonies in the state of Iowa, is a prized heirloom variety tomato widely sought for its remarkable qualities. It is known for its large size and unique flavor, which is truly a feast for the eyes and palate. The bright orange hue of this tomato is a standout feature that remains radiant even after cooking, making it an ideal ingredient for a wide range of recipes. 

Moreover, this tomato has a low acidity level and high sweetness content, making it perfect for creating a spicy salsa recipe incorporating fiery habanero peppers. Use Amana tomatoes in a tropical salsa recipe with other fruit ingredients like mangoes. The citrus and pineapple taste notes that these unique fruits have made them perfect for the job. If you are still looking for Amana tomatoes at your local grocery store, try searching for their Beefsteak varietal, the Chef's Choice orange tomato, which matures much earlier. 

Use Desi tomatoes for an Indian tomato masala

Let's say you're in more of a naan and curry vibe versus chips and salsa vibe. You'll still want to select the proper tomato for masala curry or chutney. Both are relatively effortless Indian dishes but are easy to mess up.

In India, tomatoes are the third most important crop, following potatoes and onions. In fact, India is the second-largest cultivator of tomatoes in the world. So, it is no surprise that tomatoes are the base for many traditional Indian dishes.

Indian tomatoes, aka Desi (tamatar) tomatoes, are used in most curries over any other varieties or hybrids because they are bigger, more plump, and hold on to a sweet and sour flavor for which Indian curries are known. Use firm and fresh Desi tomatoes no longer than four days after purchase for optimal tanginess. If you have difficulty locating them, try a specialty India market or go to your local Indian restaurant and try your luck with their source.

Mountain Magic tomatoes shine with mango

Taking your tastebuds for a tropical trip doesn't require much when you have mangoes and tomatoes around. Add mango to any salsa cruda recipe for a sweeter-than-sour true summer treat, and you'll be transported to the beach in no time.

This is an excellent idea for your regular chips snack and can work wonders on a tilapia fish taco. Sure, you could use any old cherry tomato for this tropical wonder, but trust us, if you want real magic ... splurge on the Mountain Magic tomato.

The mystical Mountain Magic tomato is sweeter than the average cherry tomato, so sweet, in fact, you'll want to eat it right off the vine. It is also sturdy enough to accompany an equally firm mango. Invented by Dr. Randy Gardner, a now-retired North Carolina State University professor, the magic of this particular tomato is that it is disease resistant. So, if you're a gardener, you will surely appreciate the sweet, fresh, off-the-vine taste.

Take your chip for a dip in some salsa taquera

Are you tired of the same old pico de gallo? Done with having to use your chip to pick up diced ingredients? Fear not! There is nothing wrong with dipping your chips into a smooth and flavorful salsa taquera, just like your favorite taco truck makes.

Creating your own salsa taquera is a breeze. Begin by blending peeled Roma tomatoes until they reach a velvety consistency, free from any unsightly clumps. Be sure to remove the seeds to avoid any bitterness or unwanted crunchiness.

Enhance the flavor with chili powder, cumin (go bold and add sugar), and adjust the spice level to your liking. You can use this homemade salsa as a dip or spread it on your tacos — it's incredibly versatile! The best part? Make enough to keep a jar in your refrigerator at home for when the taco truck isn't around.

Go for the green with Guacatillo

For anyone who appreciates the deliciousness of guacamole, there is a wonderful combination for you that includes tomato. You may never have heard of it unless you're from Texas. You'll likely find Guacatillo on the border of Texas and Mexico, where a cultural hub of Mexican-American cuisine thrives. This delicacy might be hard to pronounce, but it is a true treasure among plenty of other gems that have been born there.

The Guacatillo is a rich and creamy blend of both salsa and guacamole. Much like the border, it is neither here nor there but a beautiful combination of both. To make this popular Tex-Mex dish, select your local grocer's best green tomatillos and avocados with cilantro, lime, and onion. Adding green tomatillos and their sweet, tangy notes gives this salsa a distinct flavor that'll make you want to go big or go home. Bring it to your next sports-watching event and elevate the dip platter!

Bring it all home with salsa ranchera

Besides tacos, chips, and other snackable items, salsa is a staple addition to Mexican breakfast favorites like chilaquiles and huevos rancheros. Bring homemade salsa to a new level with salsa ranchera or country salsa.

A specific difference between a regularly smooth salsa taquera and salsa ranchera is that ranchera must always be spicy and smoky. Of course, you can adjust those profiles to your liking, but they are the rules. The tomato for the job can be a Roma or Beefsteak tomato. You will be boiling the ingredients in most recipes, so follow two simple rules; the thicker, the better, and leave the seeds in! They help the texture, and if you should find it too thick, add water.

You must add the chile serrano, seeds, and all, and roast the tomatoes for ultimate smokiness. If you want to get really weird with it, add Worcestershire sauce for a one-of-a-kind umami flavor.

Get wild with Green Zebra tomatoes

If you're lucky enough to find these rare tomatoes, you probably wouldn't believe your eyes. Their green and yellow stripes are hard to miss! Not only rare in sight but rare to find, Green Zebra tomatoes are not widely produced and belong to a newer green tomato variety originating in the U.K. during the 1980s. However, they are widely popular amongst growers, so check your local farmers' market.

As you might suspect, these one-of-a-kind tomatoes have a one-of-a-kind taste; they are tart and acidic in flavor before fully maturing. Their uniqueness doesn't stop there; Green Zebra tomatoes evolve into a balanced blend of sweet and tangy notes once fully developed.

They make an excellent choice for salsa verde and spicy salsa and even complement mangoes well in tropical salsa. Since they are relatively new to the tomato game, there are plenty of recipe options to get creative! You could even become the originator of a Green Zebra tomato recipe!

Black Krim tomatoes pair perfectly with a bloody mary

If you're already having chips and salsa by the pool, why not enjoy a drink in hand? Double down on the health benefits of tomatoes with a bloody mary. Make it Mexican by subbing vodka with tequila, and you will have a Bloody Maria. The tomato that doubles down as the best for both salsa and a delicious Bloody Maria is the mysterious, the goth, the always cool: Black Krim tomato.

This medium-sized Beefsteak tomato comes from the Crimean peninsula (the Ukrainian word is Krim) to the south of Ukraine,in the Black Sea. Their unique maroon outer skin is hard to miss at any market. Black Krim tomatoes actually get a darker, rich black hue the more they are exposed to the sun (proving emo was never 'just a phase).'

With a perfect balance of sweetness, saltiness, and acidity, they're the tomato for the infamously red bloody mary cocktail. Their firmness also makes them ideal for pico de gallo or any salsa recipe; plus, they just look cool.