MiVT: Tom Knows Salsa

HARDWICK, Vt. (WCAX) This green salsa is proving to be a hit in the Green Mountain State. His versatile Verde is Made in Vermont.

"Can you smell the habeneros yet?" said Tom Williams, an Eden-based salsa maker.

Tom knows salsa. No, seriously, 'Tom Knows Salsa.'

"We wanted to come up with something original at that time and I said, 'Tom Knows Salsa,' and we both kind of said, 'That's it!'" said Devon Williams, Tom's wife.

"We use a lot of pablano peppers," Williams said.

Williams has been making salsa for years. First, out of his kitchen. For the last six years, he's been producing it at the Vermont food venture center in Hardwick. "I wanted a really good salsa verde -- green salsa -- and I was having trouble finding it, so I spent about a year fiddling around just for fun," he said.

Devon ate plenty of salsa in that time. "And one day she came home and said, 'I think you got something,'" Williams said.

"To see the joy on his face when he's got the finished product and out selling it -- he loves it," Devon said.

"Our last tray of roasted habaneros. We try to keep it where the flavors are what you remember, not the heat," Williams said.

Tom and Devon come to Hardwick about 18 times a year to make their salsa. They will produce about 600 jars on this day. We're catching them in one of the early stages of the day-long process -- roasting. "Those are the roasted poblanos that make up the majority of our salsa. That's the reason our salsa is green. We really have gone as slowly as you possibly could in this process. We both work full time," Williams said.

Devon co-owns In Company in Stowe, while Tom has a personal training business.

Making his salsa healthy keeps Williams happy. "We really wanted to focus on always using fresh ingredients -- as you could see today -- and not compromise that quality in any way. These are the jalapeno peppers that we roast -- lots of juice, a lot of flavor in these when they look like that. They're very fresh," he said.

A 12 oz. jar of Tom Knows Salsa can retail from $6.99 to $7.99. It can be found in stores throughout New England. Williams says his salsa isn't just to put on a chips. People are encouraged to cook with it. "It's versatile. It works with other flavors of food really well, without overpowering," he said.

Who else would know better?