Make Fermented Tomatoes! Filled with Probiotic Goodness and SO Delicious!
My garden, and my dad's garden especially, EXPLODED with ripe tomatoes just this past week or two. He brought me this HUGE box of tomatoes! Finally! I have to say! But I have been so busy that I haven't been able to can things like I normally would. So....I have turned to fermenting my produce recently. Here's why: Fermented food is GREAT for you! It contains tons of healthy probiotics that heal and support your body. Also, it's just a very natural process. Fermentation is caused by natural good bacteria and yeast found in our environments. Using any kind of extreme heat (as in canning) kills all the probiotic goodness. There is a time and place for canning, but why not consider fermentation?
When you eat fermented foods of different kinds, you give your body such a health boost! It seriously keeps your gut healthy! And if your gut is healthy, it's likely the rest of you is too! AND, the food will last for literally months under the right conditions. What else could you ask for? So, I think you will LOVE this easy fermented whole tomato recipe that was inspired by the traditional USSR-Ukrainain style from this website.
What Do You Need to Ferment Tomatoes?
2. Spices---I used a good spoonful of garlic, some peppercorns, along with peppers from the garden
3. Any other veggies you want to add. I used celery, zucchini, and cucumbers from the garden because I just had to do something with them too.
4. Brine: About 2-3 tablespoons of Sea Salt to a quart of water. I used about 4 1/2 to 5 tablespoons Sea Salt for my half-gallon Mason jars. NOTE: You can use about half the salt if you use whey or another starter culture such as water kefir, kombucha, or already fermented brine.
5. Mason Jars---I like the big half-gallon size for tomatoes, just because tomatoes are so large. But you can use quart size wide mouth jars just fine. Quart size jars are also great for cherry tomatoes!
6. A little time and burping! (See directions for that)
How to Make Fermented Tomatoes---Inspired by Traditional USSR Recipe!
1. Wash your tomatoes.
2. Pierce the tops and bottoms a couple times with a fork (see pic above)
3. Mix up your brine. See the Kirkland Vodka bottle I'm pouring from? I've found that when I'm making a lot of fermented veggies, it's just easier to make up a huge batch of brine, then shake and pour it in. I use a quart size Mason jar to do my measuring and shaking to dissolve the salt, then use a funnel to pour into the large bottle. THEN it's super easy to pour into your veggie jars.
4. If you have starter culture from a previous batch of fermented veggies, kombucha, or water kefir, or whey, you can pour about a 1/2 cup per half-gallon Mason jar. Using a starter culture speeds up fermentation and also allows you to cut back a bit on the salt. But if you don't have it handy (I didn't), then that's just fine. The veggies will ferment in the brine just fine! (A rhyme!! :-)
5. Fill your jars with the veggies & spices.
6. Pour your brine (and starter if you are using) over all, to within about an inch from the top.
7. The tomatoes are heavy, so if you have packed your jar, you probably won't need a weight to keep the veggies under the brine. If you do, a boiled rock or a fermenting weight works great! **Please be sure you do have all the veggies under water, though. I thought I had all mine under, but I had a tomato top sneak up over the top of the liquid. There is a cautionary picture below.
8. Let sit for several days. You will notice the liquid turns cloudy. This is a good sign. After the second day, you will need to "burp" your jar lids to allow built up gases to escape. You'll see bubbles rising like crazy up through the liquid and bursting at the top! You won't need to "burp" your jars if you are using an airlock system or a lid with a nipple, like some of the ones you see in my pictures. I like the plastic lids because there is no metal to possibly corrode due to the salt/acid. Either way works great!
9. When you feel they are ready (it's ok to test one out---just use a clean utensil and no double dipping to prevent mold), then place into cool storage ('fridge or a root cellar or cold room that is about 50 degrees or less. The cold room slows down the fermentation process, but it will keep fermenting slowly. Therefore if you are storing for a while, be sure to "burp" once in awhile.
NOTE: If you are using an airlock system, then replace with a true lid to keep out oxygen when you start the cold storage.
That's IT! Enjoy! These are SO good! You can also use the leftover brine for cooking too. The tomato juices give it such a delicious flavor. I promise you won't be able to stop eating these!
Here is a jar all ready for the brine. A good spoonful of garlic, some peppercorns, zucchini in this one, peppers, some celery, and now...I'm pouring in the brine to completely cover. You want to make sure there are no air bubbles, so you may have to tap the jar good a few times, or even use a utensil to move things around a bit to get all air out.
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Where Do You Buy Great Herbs and Spices?
I buy almost all of my herbs (medicinal and culinary) and spices from Starwest Botanicals. The shipping is fast, the quality is excellent, and they are clear about the origin and quality of their herbs. I buy organic from them! Besides the fact that the quality is better, you can buy organic or wild harvested, the prices are SO much less than grocery store prices.
Here are some books and resources that got me going with fermentation!
Hugs & Self-Reliance!
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Disclaimer: The information in this article, elsewhere on my blog, in my shop sites, in conversations, and on labels is for informational purposes only and not meant to cure, treat, diagnose, or prevent any medical condition. I am not a medical doctor, so please see a medical professional for concerns. I simply provide my own personal advice based on experience and study for ways to live a healthy and natural way of life. I disclaim any liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any of the information contained in this article or elsewhere on this website. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
I hope you will leave me a comment! Have you tried fermenting veggies before? Tomatoes specifically? Let's talk! :-)
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