The traditional term for “Sofrito” refers to sautéing our special blend of herbs and vegetables in a tomato-annatto oil based sauce. It is the basic condiment that gives the Puerto Rican cuisine its unique flavor and aroma. Today, however, the term “Sofrito” is referred to the puréed herbs and vegetables. Sofrito is, therefore, added to our stewed rice, beans, meats, fish and soups for a more flavorful and tropical dinning experience.
A Little Food History!
Who introduced the sofrito concept to the Puerto Rican cookery? The Taíno Indians initiated the sofrito cooking process by adding the culantro (recao), sweet peppers (ajíes dulces) and annatto to their dish. As a result, the sweet peppers (ajíes dulces), culantro (recao) and annatto became the essential ingredients for preparing sofrito. With the arrival of the Europeans to the island, they brought with them other food items like onions, garlic, cilantro, green peppers that were eventually incorporated to the “Sofrito” mixture to intensify the flavors and aromas to our cuisine.
Harvesting the Produce for the Sofrito from Aida’s Garden!
These are our sweet peppers (ajíes dulces). This recipe calls for ½ pound of sweet peppers (approximately 40 sweet peppers).
Fresh garlic from my garden. This recipe calls for 2 whole garlic heads.
Harvesting beautiful large green peppers. This recipe calls for 1 pound of green peppers (approximately 3 green peppers).
I grow yellow and white onions. I make sofrito with white or yellow onions. This recipe calls for ½ pound of onions (approximately 2 onions).
These are our culantro (recao) leaves. This recipe calls for 40 culantro leaves.
Preparing the Produce to Make Sofrito!
These sweet peppers (ajíes dulces) are bright green. However, when they are left long on the plant, they turn yellow, orange and red. The Taíno Indians cultivated the sweet peppers in Puerto Rico. Therefore, our sweet peppers are an integral part of the Puerto Rican cookery.
You can substitute sweet peppers (ajíes dulces) with cubanelle peppers. Click on this link for more information on Sweet Peppers.
Cut the sweet peppers (ajíes dulces) in halves.
Remove the seeds with your thumb.
Discard the seeds or dry and package them to plant the following year.
Split open the fresh garlic bulb with a knife after cutting off the stem.
Then cut off the root end on both halves.
Remove all the garlic cloves with your hands.
Place one garlic clove in center of cutting board.
To peel a garlic clove, place a clove under the flat side of a knife blade and press down with the palm of your hand until you hear a crack.
Peel the cloves of garlic.
Continue this process until all the garlic cloves are peeled.
This is a fresh green pepper from my garden – a deep green color.
With a knife, make four cuts on the sides of the green pepper.
Remove the ribs from each side.
Cut the green pepper chunks in half.
Continue this process for the remaining green peppers.
This is a fresh onion from my garden.
Cut off the stem and root end.
Peel the onion.
Cut the onion into quarters. Continue this process.
Trim the stems from the culantro (recao) with a kitchen scissor and rinse. If the culantro is very long, then I cut them in half. I do not use fresh cilantro to prepare Sofrito since I normally add the cilantro when cooking most meals. However, if you can not find culantro at the Latin market, then you can substitute the culantro (recao) with 2 bunches of cilantro.
Culantro is a tropical perennial herb that is native to Mexico, Central and South America and Puerto Rico. The leaf is green with long jagged edges (spiny). The culantro (recao) has a strong aromatic scent. The Taíno Indians also cultivated the culantro in Puerto Rico. Click on this link for more information on Culantro.
Pureeing the Herbs and Vegetables!
Rinse all the vegetables and herbs and place in a bowl or you can place in separate bowls if you so desire.
Add the herbs and vegetables that the food processor will hold.
Purée the ingredients in the food processor. Depending on the speed selected, it will take approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute to purée the ingredients.
The sofrito has a smooth consistency. Repeat this process for the remaining ingredients.
Pour into a bowl and mix all ingredients until well blended.
How to Make Sofrito For a Single Meal!
If you are not interested in preparing a large batch of sofrito, mix all the chopped ingredients (1 garlic clove, 2 tablespoons green peppers, 1 tablespoon onion, 2 small or medium size culantro (recao) leaves and 1 tablespoon sweet peppers (ajíes dulces) into a bowl until well blended. Add the sofrito to the dish that you are preparing and enjoy the tropical flavors! You can substitute cilantro for culantro and cubanelle peppers for the sweet peppers (ajíes dulces).
Storing the Sofrito for Future Use!
Pour Sofrito (puréed condiments) in plastic containers and cover with lid. Place in the freezer for future use.
You can also add the Sofrito (puréed condiments) in ice cube trays. Cover with a lid and place in the freezer for future use.
PREPARATION TIP: Once the sofrito is frozen in the ice cube trays, I place two cubes of frozen sofrito in a snack bag. I then place 8 to 10 snack bags of sofrito in a gallon plastic bag and store the gallon plastic bag in the freezer. When a recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of “Sofrito” as one of the ingredients, I remove a snack bag from inside the gallon bag and add the two cubes of sofrito to the dish I am preparing. Each cube of sofrito equals one tablespoon.
Click on the button below to watch my YouTube video on How to Make Sofrito!
Recipe and Nutritional Facts
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. Please refer to our Nutritional Facts Disclaimer for more information.Print
Sofrito is a special blend of herbs and vegetables that is used in the Caribbean cookery especially in Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. The herbs and vegetables are puréed in large quantities and stored in the freezer for future use. The puréed condiments is a mixture that adds the unique flavor and aroma to our cuisine.
- 2 whole garlic heads
- ½ pound onion or 2 onions
- 1 pound green bell pepper or 3 green peppers
- ½ pound ajíes dulces (sweet peppers) or 40 ajíes dulces (sweet peppers)
- 40 leaves fresh culantro
- Peel the cloves of garlic. Peel the onions and cut each onion in quarters. Core and cut green peppers into large chunks. Discard seeds.
- Trim the stems from the culantro. Cut sweet peppers (ajíes dulces) in halves and discard the seeds.
- Rinse all the vegetables and herbs. Place all the ingredients in a bowl.
- Add the vegetables and herbs that the food processor will hold and purée the ingredients. Repeat this process until all the vegetables and herbs are puréed.
- Pour into a bowl and mix all ingredients until well blended.
- Pour puréed condiments in plastic containers and/or ice cube trays. Cover plastic containers and/or ice cube trays with lid and store in freezer for future use.
Once the sofrito is frozen in the ice cube trays, I place two cubes of frozen sofrito in a snack bag. I then place 8 to 10 snack bags of sofrito in a gallon plastic bag and store the gallon plastic bag in the freezer. When a recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of “Sofrito” as one of the ingredients, I remove a snack bag from inside the gallon bag and add the two cubes of sofrito to the dish I am preparing. Each cube of sofrito equals one tablespoon.
Substitute fresh cilantro (2 bunches) for culantro and substitute cabanelle peppers (½ pound) for sweet peppers (ajíes dulces).
- Category: Condiments