Taste Test: Ohio-made salsas

Erin Edwards

We taste-tested six Ohio-made salsas. Because: football.

Salsa is the unofficial mascot of the football tailgate and there happen to be a dizzying array of Ohio-made salsas these days–who knew? So the Columbus Monthly staff readied our bottled waters (alas, there were no margaritas) and tasted, scored and ranked a half-dozen brands of Ohio salsa with the goal of finding a favorite.

Someone had to do it.

Out of the six medium-heat salsas we tasted, Ridiculously Good Salsa's Happy Medium won over our staff. The secret: garden freshness with a heat that builds at the end.

Based in Westerville, Ridiculously Good Salsa (RGS) is the 3-year-old creation of the Nortz family, headed by parents Greg and Vickie. Greg, an engineer, is the primary salsa chef in the family, while Vickie, a nurse, focuses on the business side. Their kids, Andrew and Gracie, have contributed feedback, help in the kitchen and valuable motivation ("Mom, you've gotta sell this," Andrew reportedly urged).

The preservative- and sugar-free salsa has a short shelf-life (about three weeks) and is produced at Just Pies' kitchen in Westerville. It's delivered the next day to specialty grocers like Little Eater Produce & Provisions in the North Market and Weiland's Market in Clintonville.

"We would like to be the No. 1 fresh salsa maker in Ohio," says Vickie, adding that they are already working to expand into the Cleveland and Cincinnati markets.

Ridiculously Good Salsa, Westerville

This refrigerator salsa packs lots of texture and freshness. "Really good burst of cilantro up-front," wrote one staffer.

Up next for RGS? Its first hot salsa will be unveiled at Andrew's wedding in a few weeks.

Kick Salsa, Columbus

This small-batch brand scored high on flavor; reminds us of a fresh restaurant salsa.

Frog Ranch, Athens

The chunkiest salsa of the bunch, Frog Ranch reminds us of the big brands.

Montezuma, Columbus

A thinner salsa that's heavy on sweetness and tomato. "Put it on pasta," one staffer suggested.

CaJohn's, Westerville

The medium salsa from this North Market vendor packs a surprising amount of jalapeno heat.

Sugar & Spice, Cincinnati

A polarizing salsa because of its barbecue-y, smoky and sweet profile.