Once you start eating fresh, you don’t go back. That’s what Deanna Owen has found with her salsa made from farm stand produce seasonally, both for her and for her customers. She starts making the salsa each March and continues as long as tomatoes are good, usually through September or October, and you can buy it in 16-ounce containers at J&S Produce in the Trinity United Methodist Church parking lot. To learn more about Rock Inn Salsa and how it all got started, we chatted with Deanna at the peak of Alabama summer produce season. For more information, follow @rockinnsalsa on Instagram or Facebook.
How did you start making salsa?
A friend of mine was making it and would give it as Christmas presents, and it was so good to taste fresh homemade salsa. I asked her about her recipe, and she said she just found something on the internet. I found one I liked and made it my own; I am not a recipe follower or a baker who likes to measure. I used produce from my daddy’s garden until he passed away, and that was about the time Jason Davidson started the J&S Produce stand in the Trinity United Methodist Church parking lot. He sells the salsa there, and I do some porch pickups when everything is in season. I got started when my son who is now is a sophomore at Auburn went to middle school, and it’s taken off from there.
Where did the name come from?
My parents live on Rock Inn Point on Login Martin Lake, and that’s where it started. My dad has always piddled with garden plots but when they retired and moved to the lake he really got into it daily as a hobby.
What makes your salsa taste the way it does?
It’s just fresh. A lot of people only want mine and won’t eat the jarred stuff. Some batches are hotter than others because you never know the degree of hotness of the jalapeño peppers. I like to call it a medium plus heat because it’s hotter than a regular medium, but it’s not super hot. If you like a kick, it’s perfect for you. I don’t use cilantro in my salsa. If you like it, please add it, and the same goes with adding fresh grilled corn. I feel like I have come up with a good blend and a good consistency, and everyone seems to like it.
How do you like to cook with it?
I like to make taco soup with it and use it for any recipe that calls for Rotel. I also like to make chicken breasts in the crockpot with it, and I use that chicken in quesadillas and salads. I add it to cheese dip and my guacamole. My in-laws like to put it on scrambled eggs or in a breakfast burrito. You can use it for just about anything you would use chopped tomatoes for. One of my friends eats it with a spoon, and some people hide it from their spouses and family.
Do you ever get tired of eating it?
I don’t get tired of it because it’s seasonal. It never stays around long enough at my house to go bad. When I get to the end of the season, I will can a few jars that I’ll save for me to give as gifts.