Don Aramburu Salsa Co. is Taylor and Sam Aramburu’s labor of love. While the business was born during the pandemic, it’s more than something the young couple did to pass time during quarantine—their salsa business is a culmination of childhood experiences coupled with worldly travels, and it’s turned into a family affair involving the couple’s parents, aunts and uncles.
Taylor and Sam are originally from Riverton, Utah. As a child, Sam’s family always had a garden, so gardening was a big part of her upbringing. When the couple bought their house, Taylor wanted to start a garden. He always enjoyed yard work, but there was more behind Taylor’s longing for a garden—as a boy, he developed a passion for cooking from his mother, Angie, and a love for salsa during his LDS mission to Coahulia, Mexico.
During his mission to Mexico, Taylor grew fond of Mexican food. As a missionary visiting families, he learned a lot about making tortillas, tacos, salsas, and other local dishes. After his mission, Taylor returned to Mexico with Sam, where he introduced her to the people, culture, and food that impacted his life so deeply.
“One thing I really love about Mexican culture is that it’s such a family affair. We’d visit the houses of friends or total strangers and food was always a central part of our time there. We’d help them make meals while they explained how it was done. I’m a food lover in general, so I was always asking how the salsas were made,” says Taylor.
“Salsa is such a unique thing. There’s always a limited amount of ingredients that you have to work with, and all the variation depends on how you mix them together and process it. It’s like music in a way. There are only a couple of notes, and you throw them together into chords and you can make thousands of different songs. It’s the same thing with different salsas.”
A pandemic and 40 pounds of tomatoes
The Aramburus planted a modest garden at their home before, but it wasn’t until 2020, the first year of the pandemic, when they got serious. That’s the year they built raised beds and invested money in their garden. “We got really into gardening as soon as the pandemic hit and we built out this massive garden in our backyard as something to do while we’re home, something to do together,” says Taylor.
In late summer of 2020, the couple had around 40 pounds of tomatoes come in one weekend. “They all came in at the same time,” he says. The couple had been making salsa before that, much because of their frequent travels to Mexico. “We were making a lot of the salsa recipes already, so when these tomatoes came in, we blended them up.”
The Aramburus ultimately decided to begin mass salsa production. Taylor made a logo and a label, and one Saturday, Taylor and Sam drove around for four hours passing out their salsa jars to friends and family on their porches. The nation was deep in the middle of a pandemic and it was a nice way to reconnect with others in the fresh air.
The next day, Taylor and Sam started receiving texts and calls from people asking, “Where can we find your salsa? Is this your new business?” With so many people positively responding to their salsa, the Aramburus responded, “Well, I guess we do [have a business] now.”
Getting first orders during a windstorm and power outage
Don Aramburu Salsa Co. is now produced out of a commercial kitchen in Salt Lake City, but in the beginning, it was supposed to start out of Taylor and Sam’s home. It was around September 2020 when the couple passed out their salsa to friends and family and they decided to start a business. They received a significant number of orders from word of mouth and online, but the day they were going to start production, there was a giant windstorm in Salt Lake City, uprooting a lot of trees and cutting the Aramburu’s power for six days.
“We woke up without power and had all of the ingredients and supplies for the salsa we were going to make in our house, but ended up having to drive to Riverton and set up shop at my in-law’s house because they have a dedicated basement kitchen,” says Taylor.
The Aramburus set up at the basement kitchen and got all of their orders out that day even though few people had power in Utah. Sam’s parents had a generator, so fortunately, it worked out. The Aramburus continued making their salsa in that basement for the next year and a half until they moved to their kitchen in downtown Salt Lake City.
Selling online and at farmers markets
On their website, the Aramburus are currently selling Tomatillo Verde, El Clasico, Guajillo, Serrano Dip, Queso Blanco, and Strawberry Pico—the first three were original salsas they had been making for years and they also came out with “Mama’s Guac,” the guacamole recipe Taylor’s mom had been making since he was a kid.
They started with four staple salsas then released monthly seasonal specialty flavors to mix things up, such as the “Pot of Gold” in March, which is made with a Peruvian pepper that gives it a gold color, and the “Strawberry Pico,” a strawberry-based salsa they make in July.
What’s their best seller? “We do a creamy cilantro dip called ‘Serrano Dip,’ which has been our best seller this summer because so many people use it in cooking. We have people every week tell us they use it on something different like pizza crust, beer battered avocado tacos, fish tacos, all sorts of things.”
Don Aramburu Salsa can be ordered online and through DoorDash, but it can also be purchased on Saturdays at the Provo, downtown Salt Lake, and Ogden farmers markets. The salsa can be found at The Neighborhood Hive in Salt Lake City, but they’re now working towards getting it into a couple of stores in Riverton, as well as in Smith’s and Harmons by the end of the year.
“One of the things that makes us unique is our commitment to avoiding single-use plastics. We use clear glass jars and offer a recycling program which includes discounts on future purchases. We work hard to reuse and recycle our jars, when possible.”
Don Aramburu Salsa Co. has a solid presence at local farmers markets, but it also had a booth at the Salt City Wine & Dine Event at La Caille Estate on Aug. 27. There, they handed out samples of their Serrano Dip, Roasted Mango Salsa (hot), and their Guajillo (mild) with chips. To try their salsas for yourself, visit their website today.