Sandy, an excellent photographer who doubles as a savvy shopper, snapped this up just this morning on her weekly TJ's run. I had heard NOTHING about this salsa until she sent me the picture at work of the jar front with our new little copyright in the corner. Nice pic, babe! But all I could see was the jar front, and since I hadn't seen any buzz or any news about it anywhere, here's the word that came to mind: Baby food.
Apples and squash are pretty traditional Gerbery glop, after all. Sure, it might be a little fancier - look, it's an "autumnal mélange" after all - but that's more or less what I expected. More savory, no spicy, kinda meh. Doesn't help that I'm not a huge pumpkin guy anyways. I think before twisting the lid off for the maiden tasting voyage I cracked some some joke about it was going to smell like a vaguely Mexican Yankee Candle.
Yet once again...I was wrong.
Don't let it fool you: Even though pumpkin is the primary ingredient, this is a salsa, first and foremost. Look at the rest of the ingredients: Tomatoes. Tomatillos. Jalapeños. Peppers. With the exception of the lime, I could probably grow everything in my back garden...but I'd never think of mashing them all up together into some Frankensalsa.
Cowboy Caviar (minus beans and corn) comes to mind, for instance. It's got that same chunky-spicy-sweet tilt to it - a good enough kick, but not enough to easily offend most palates. For this harvest blend, I'd say that the pumpkin and butternut squash add more body and girth than flavor. To my taste, they do add an earthy dimension, but it seems somewhat offset by a little bit of the spiciness being muted. As for the apples - they add a little crispy sweet angle, though it doesn't stand out. I can't quite figure out what type of apple it is, but it's definitely a tamer variety. There's a little touch of honey to amp up the sugar a little bit more, but in all, it's a very smooth, even flavor.
Honestly, both Sandy and I are pretty impressed by this stuff, and how well it incorporated so many different elements. I originally had planned on taking only a few small bites on tortilla chips as an after-main-course tidbit at dinner, which within a couple minutes turned into one of those "We need to put this away now" type moments we are too prone to. It's not enough to have me divorce my still-favorite salsa, and I'm not sold on how well it'd go over at breakfast on some eggs, but for almost anything else you'd put salsa on, go for it. Sandy mentioned a couple times she thinks it'd pair especially well with some grilled chicken, which I'd second. For a little seasonal variety, this is better than what we had bargained for, and well worth the $2.99 price tag.
Bottom line: Trader Joe's Fall Harvest Salsa: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons