Texan David Pace had been selling 58 different varieties
of jam, jellies, and sauces from the back of his liquor store
in the 1940s when he came up with a recipe for a thick and spicy
tomato-based sauce he dubbed “Picante.” When sales of David’s
new sauce took off, he concentrated all his efforts on marketing
his all-natural, preservative-free product, and designed the
sauce’s famous hourglass-shaped jar (to keep it from tipping over).
Now America’s number one Mexican hot sauce brand, Pace Foods,
makes it known that it still uses only fresh jalapeño peppers in
the sauces, rather than the brined, less flavorful jalapeños –
like those canned nacho slices. Each year all the fresh jalapeños
used by the company weigh in at around 30 million pounds, and the
nation gobbles up around 120 million pounds of the zingy sauces.
Here’s a simple recipe to make a kitchen copy of the medium
heat-level Pace Picante Sauce, which was the first variety David
created. The mild and hot versions were added in 1981, and you’ll
find clones for those at the bottom of the recipe in Tidbits.
1 10.75-ounce can tomato puree
1 can full of water (1 1/3 cups)
1/3 cup chopped Spanish onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh jalapeño peppers, with seeds (3 to 4 peppers)
2 tablespoons white vinegar
rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried minced onion
1/4 teaspoon dried minced garlic
1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium high heat.
2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until
3. When cool, bottle in 16-ounce jar and refrigerate overnight.
Makes 2 cups (16 oz.).
For the mild version of the salsa, reduce the amount of fresh
jalapeños to 2 rounded tablespoons (2 to 3 peppers).
For the hot variety, increase the amount of jalapeños to 1/3 cup
(4 to 5 peppers).