GourMom's Homemade Organic Salsa & Simmer Sauce

Liz Rueven

Sarah Galluzzo  waits with great anticipation for the ground to thaw and the spring to arrive in CT. OK,  we are all yearning for spring.... but her product depends on it! GourMom's  USDA certified organic salsa and simmer sauce is her scrumptious creation.  She is committed to using LOCAL and CERTIFIED ORGANIC ingredients for this chunky, choc full o'flavor salsa.  As a salsa enthusiast,  I was enthralled by her story and her product. We chatted at the Pantry in Fairfield, one of her retail outlets,  and she explained about the launching of this super local, super delicious product. Her excitement was contagious as she shared her story.

In 2008 Galuzzo decided to get serious about selling her salsa and test the market.  She had been dubbed "GourMom" by friends and family as she treated them to her creations at parties and events.  She said, " I finally decided to see what strangers thought of my salsa so I dropped off samples at A and S Fine Foods in Fairfield.  Their support and enthusiasm helped me to launch my product.  Their first order was for 2 cases and they quickly sold out. Their customers returned looking for more. My farmers at Urban Oaks in New Britain and at White Gate Farm in East Lyme were trying to keep up with my demand but none of us had anticipated this amazing response." Sarah spent another year experimenting with organic produce in her production kitchen in Oxford, CT.  She continued, "I was working on the marketing plan, the organic certification, and the introduction of the product to as many places as possible."  Her precocious 6 year old daughter, Samantha,  may have sealed the deal with Whole Foods in Westport when she and Sarah's husband paid a visit to the buyers there  (not the first time!) and the buyer asked Sarah's husband if he was "GourMom."  Samantha answered , "Wouldn't it be called GourDad if it was HIS salsa?!  My Mom is the cook!"  The sale was clinched and GourMom is now on the shelves of Whole Foods in Westport.

In the summer of 2009,  demand increased. Between August and October GourMom produced 60 cases.  Count 'em!  At 12 jars per case they produced over 700 jars of salsa.  But the piquante salsa is not the only kicker.  The story gets even more interesting.  Her staff is comprised of family and friends who are so committed and enthusiastic that they have all volunteered their time to help her launch her salsa.  Her 71 year old Mom is her tomato girl, the one Sarah counts on to skin, seed and chop her locally grown tomatoes into tomato fillets. She explained, "When the local tomatoes, onions, garlic and herbs are ready to harvest, we are in the kitchen for 16-20 weeks straight."  They mostly hand chop the ingredients which explains the super chunky texture.  She credits her resourceful nature to her parents and  French Canadian grandparents.  She continued, "My Mamere and Pepere taught me to be flexible and confident in the kitchen.  Both of my grandparents loved to grow fruits and veggies on their farm. They canned and jarred whichever produced inspired them to create relishes and jams each summer.  Even if they wanted to repeat a recipe, it usually changed due to the crop yield that particular summer."  Sarah understands this well, with her commitment to LOCAL PRODUCE.  Last year, the CT  tomato blight prompted her to seek tomatoes from farmers in New Jersey.  She recalled, "I was lucky that New Jersey was not as hard hit as CT.  I figured that as long as the produce could be driven to my kitchen, it was still local." Other challenges?  She recalled, "The white, local, hard-neck garlic was suddenly priced at $15.00 a pound!  I love its unusually mild and distinctive flavor so I opted to continue using it despite the outrageous price.

GourMom makes 2 salsas for now, one "family friendly" which is MILD enough for kids to enjoy and one SPICY. The heat in the SPICY salsa comes from locally grown jalapeno and chili peppers.  While Galuzzo relishes the kick of that heat she doesn't want the burn.  Her flexible nature is often tested and was again last season when a batch of recently harvested peppers proved hotter than she expected. "SUPER HOT" was born but only filled 6-8 cases as she was soon able to locate other peppers that were spicy but not quite so hot.  She lists simple recipes on her website so that her salsa loving supporters  may use her product as a simmer sauce also.  She explained, "Tomatoes are the only veggie that increases in nutritional value when they are cooked.  The licopene is of such nutritional importance.  I want salsa lovers to eat as much of it as possible and in as many ways as they can imagine."

For now, GourMom's Authentic Homemade Organic Salsa and Simmer Sauce can be purchased at: A and S Fine Foods and the Pantry in Fairfield, Whole Foods Market and Organic Market in Westport and on Farm Fresh Express.  Check out www.gourmom.net for more details and to find easy to follow recipes.  Galuzzo is not the only one looking forward to summer!

GourMom's Authentic Homemade Organic Salsa and Simmer Sauce sells for $6.95 for a 16 ounce jar.

Try this simple recipe in your home. Your kids will love it!

Black Bean Burritos

1 tablespoon organic olive oil
1 large organic red onion — chopped
2 cloves organic garlic — minced
1 1/2 teaspoons organic chili powder
1/2 teaspoon organic cumin
3 cups organic brown rice — cooked
1 16-oz. can organic black beans — drained and rinsed
1 11-oz. can organic corn – drained
½ cup frozen organic edamame-heated in
6 8-inch organic flour tortillas
½ cup organic Cheddar cheese (6 ounces) — shredded
organic sour cream for garnish

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion and spices.  Saute 3 to 5 minutes until onion is tender. Add edmame, cooked rice, beans and corn, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add mixture to tortillas and roll. Add a little cheese, salsa and sour cream.  Roll up tortilla and serve topped with salsa.