HJ/EDHerald Journal, Jan. 23, 2006

Blue ribbon salsa is family affair

By Lynda Jensen

Fresh lime, garlic, and about a dozen different kinds of tomatoes are a few things that go into homemade salsa made by the Tom and Mary Wiemiller family of Winsted.

Their mild salsa won first place blue ribbon at the State Fair in 2005, and a second place red ribbon the year before for hot salsa.

Making prize-winning salsa has genuinely turned from a minor fling to a family affair – and it doesn’t hurt to have a son-in-law who is a chemist for 3M and has a passion for cooking, either.

The Wiemillers make salsa with their son-in-law and daughter, Al and Krista Heebesh of Minneapolis.

In fact, this time of year finds Al Heebesh skimming through seed catalogs, which is the start of the process for salsa. He plants several varieties of tomatoes and peppers under a grow light in his Minneapolis home. They are, in turn, transplanted to his relatively small garden in the spring.

Whatever else needed is purchased at a farmer’s market, he said.

It’s funny that about 20 gallons of Winsted salsa each year originates from a small garden in the Twin Cities, Mary Wiemiller said.

The competition is fierce for salsa, she added.

So, what’s the secret?

“It’s all in the mixing and cutting,” she said. “No two batches taste the same.”

Some family members are in charge of different things.

The Heebesh children, Anna, 4, and Ellie, 3, also help with the process.

“Al is the master pepper blender,” Mary said. “We use lots of garlic,” she added. “You don’t smell very good when you’re done.”

Blending the right kinds of tomatoes is also important, Heebesh noted. For example, beefsteak has a good flavor but can be too seedy and liquid, Mary said.

“We try not to cook it too much,” she added.

Mary Wiemiller hopes to try out Peruvian cooking and is interested in Asian salsa, which has a lot of Ginger in it. She will be visiting Peru in the spring.

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