How to Keep Homemade Pico de Gallo Fresh

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Pico de gallo is a fresh, raw salsa with a full, bright flavor. It is best enjoyed very fresh, when its ingredients are most flavorful. However, it isn't always possible to prepare pico de gallo immediately before serving, especially if you are busy or are preparing food to bring to a meeting or potluck. Tricks for keeping pico de gallo fresh during storage may require compromises in flavor or ingredients, but you'll still probably end up with a fresher, more flavorful salsa than one you buy at the grocery store.

The Salt Factor

  • Salt draws moisture out of ingredients. Because tomatoes have such a high moisture content, they are especially likely to lose their juice after you salt them. A fully salted pico de gallo that sits in the refrigerator for a few days will turn into a container of tomato liquid floating with small, red tomato remnants. To keep homemade pico de gallo fresh, prepare and mix all of the ingredients except the salt, and then salt the mixture just before serving.

The Right Container

  • Store homemade pico de gallo in the refrigerator in a container with a tightly fitting lid. Keeping out the air will keep the salsa from drying out and absorbing refrigerator odors. Unlike plastic, which absorbs and retains the taste of food that it has previously stored, glass will keep its flavor fresh. This is especially important with homemade pico de gallo, which contains no preservatives and relies on clean, simple flavors.

The Right Tomatoes

  • Although homemade pico de gallo will be optimally flavorful if you use juicy vine-ripened tomatoes in the peak of summer, it won't keep as well with these exemplary ingredients. Choose sturdy tomatoes if you will be storing your salsa. Romas are quite sturdy and will hold up well, especially if you use them when they are somewhat under-ripe. Although you sacrifice some flavor using lower quality tomatoes, you do gain durability and extended shelf life.

The Right Dice

  • Pico de gallo typically uses tomato pieces that are quite small, as small as you can reasonably cut by hand. Although smaller pieces make a better salsa, avoid chopping your tomatoes with a food processor, which will chop them until they are quite tiny, but will break them up until they lose their shape and structure. Cut bigger pieces if your tomatoes are ripe and juicy; cut smaller pieces if your tomatoes are less ripe and more firm.

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