How to Make Fermented Green & Red Tomato Salsa (Yes! Use Up All Those Tomatoes in a Healthy Way!)
This article is a recipe for how to make the BEST fermented salsa you've ever had! Find out a bit about the benefits of fermentation and directions for making "real food" salsa from all those tomatoes you have this harvest!
We had a very early freeze this Fall---in September! Summer was barely over! Our growing season here in our mountains is pretty short as it is, so I was very dismayed when the temperatures suddenly dipped for a couple of days, leaving my tomatoes, zucchini, and pepper plants shriveled with lots of developing fruit on the vines.
Mr. V. and I hurriedly gathered everything we could before we lost the vegetables too! Among the early harvest were TONS of green tomatoes. Seriously. There were baskets full! I put the tomatoes that were beginning to ripen on the counter, and managed to get some of them to start turning red/pink.
So, what do you do when you have a counter-top full of green and red and in-between tomatoes? Well, one option is to can them, which I generally do. But I have been experimenting with fermentation for some time, and this year I just didn't have time to get the canning done.
So....I chose fermentation! Fermented foods can last several months (I had a jar of fermented Russian tomatoes last a year, once) in cool storage. Most say to refrigerate your ferments when you are ready to put them in cold storage, and if I have the space, that's what I do. If you'd like to learn more about what fermentation is and why it's so good for you, check out this article.
Otherwise, I just keep them in the coldest room in our house, which in the Winter hovers around 45 to 50 degrees, since we don't heat it. We try to use our fermented foods throughout the Winter and Spring so that by Summer, when it's hot again (and that room is about 65 degrees at that point), we are eating fresh veggies again! I put a lid on my ferments, and just check them periodically to make sure they don't need a "burp."
One of the ways we fermented all these tomatoes was to make a juicy, chunky salsa! This stuff is dee-LICIOUS! One thing about fermented foods----they don't tend to last very long, since they are so good! Honestly, storage is usually not an issue because of this reason alone!
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How to Make Fermented Salsa from Green & Red Tomatoes
Ingredients for Green & Red Tomato Salsa:
*** Chopped Green & Red Tomatoes (Mostly Green)
*** Sweet or Hot Peppers to taste---I balanced the peppers 1:3 with the tomatoes, approximately
*** 1/2 Onion to one 1/2 gallon Mason jar---Adjust to your taste. If you like more onion, just add more!
*** Minced Garlic to taste. I use about 1 tablespoon Garlic to a half gallon jar
*** Cilantro to taste---omit if you don't like it. I love it and use a lot.
*** 1 teaspoon Cumin to 1/2 gallon Mason jar. Adjust to taste.
*** 2 teaspoons Chipotle powder to 1/2 gallon Mason jar. Adjust to taste.
*** Oregano to taste
*** 2 tablespoons Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt to one half-gallon Mason jar. **If using Whey, you can reduce by half, if you desire.
*** 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice to one 1/2 gallon Mason Jar.
*** 1/2 cup Whey to one half gallon Mason jar. (Optional. If you use more salt, you shouldn't need the Whey. The Whey helps speed up the fermentation process. Alternatively, you can use some brine from a previous ferment if you have it on hand.) Find out more about whey in this article.
TIP about where I get my culinary (and herbs) spices: I get mine from Starwest Botanicals because they are high quality, I can purchase a lot more for the price than I can at the grocery, and they are a lot fresher (which goes along with quality). Spices like Chipotle, Cumin, Cayenne, Cinnamon, and many more are available at Starwest. The links in the recipe above are for Amazon, for your convenience.
Directions to Make Green & Red Tomato Salsa
Step 1) Chop the tomatoes, onions, and peppers into small pieces.
Step 2) Add the garlic, salt, and spices to your Mason jar
Step 3) Pour the whey into your Mason jar
Step 4) Add the tomato, pepper, onion mixture
Step 5) Now add water (filtered or distilled is best if your tap water contains chlorine) to cover the vegetable matter. Leave at least one inch of head space.
Step 6) Use some kind of weight to hold the veggies beneath the surface of the water.
Step 7) Secure a lid on top. I don't have Mason jar lids for airlocks, so I just plan to "burp" my jars a couple of times a day, until the fermentation slows down. Otherwise, if you are using an airlock system made for Mason jars, or a silicone nipple top, you won't need to burp your ferments.
Step 8) Set on your counter top and allow to ferment one to three weeks. Enjoy those bubbles! Taste test to see when you like it.
Step 9) Burp at least twice a day for the first week or so, until your jars do not need burping any longer---IF you are not using an airlock system.
Step 10) When you feel it's ready, go ahead and remove the weight, replace the airlock lid with a regular plastic lid made for Mason jars, or a regular Mason jar lid, and either refrigerate or place in cold storage. It should last for several weeks, minimum.
Step 11) Enjoy!
Final Thoughts on How This Fermented Salsa Turned Out
OK. The votes are in. EVERYONE just LOVES this salsa! The fermentation adds an additional flavor that is indescribable, and makes the flavors of the salsa blend perfectly. The vegetables in the salsa remain slightly crunchy and definitely not mushy at all. It's the perfect salsa to use on chips, in recipes, and even on hamburgers!
EDITED NOTE: At Thanksgiving dinner, I pulled out this salsa as an appetizer while we all waited for the turkey to finish up. My Dad, who is skeptical about fermented foods, could NOT stop eating this salsa! He ate it all up! Whenever I see someone react to fermented foods this way, I believe it's a sign that their gut health is off-kilter. It's good to eat a little probiotic raw fermented veggies every day. IMHO.
Have you begun fermenting foods yet? If not, I hope you'll give it a try! Questions or comments? I love hearing from you, so leave them in the comments section!
If you are interested in other articles about fermentation, you might be interested in these:
- Fermentation: What It Is and Why It Helps,
- How to Make Turmeric Golden Beet Kvass,
- How to Make Fermented Cranberries.
There are many more articles about fermentation on the website too!
Hugs & Self-Reliance,
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