Regular readers may have gleaned (gleaned – ha! harvesting pun!) that Homebrew Husband and I enjoy fermenting stuff.
Right at this exact moment, the following is being (deliberately) fermented in our home:
- 5 gallons blackberry wine
- 10 gallons of beer (a carboy of pale ale and another of porter)
- 2 loaves bread dough
- homemade yogurt
- 3 or 4 gallons of crock pickles
- 2 or 3 gallons assorted other vegetable ferments: turnips, beans, carrots, mixed pickles, etc.
- 3+ gallons lacto-fermented salsa (actually, we’re down several jars already but that was the original quantity).
Sadly, I tossed about 2 gallons of fruit-fly infested malt vinegar two days ago or I’d get to put that on the list, too.
Of all my ferments the Lacto-Fermented Salsa is my current favorite. It’s blowing my mind. It’s based on the Nourishing Traditions recipe that’s kicking around the web, but scaled up and with a few seasoning adjustments.
I made it for the first time this weekend as part of my “I bought 100 pounds of roma tomatoes – now what?!” adventure. Everything I’ve read about this salsa, and my own experience with lacto-ferments, tells me that the preservative nature of the bacteria should keep this salsa good for months in a cool/refrigerated environment.
Since this is my first run with this salsa I can’t vouch for its life span but I can tell you we’ve eaten over 12 cups of it in the 54 hours since I made it. It’s that good, and it just keeps getting better as it ferments.
Before I give you the recipe, a word about food safety: you cannot, cannot, cannot just water bath can this salsa. First, water bath canning a lacto-fermented product kills off all the beneficial bacteria you’ve worked so hard to encourage. But more importantly, I have absolutely no proof that this salsa is acidic enough to be safely canned in a water bath canner. So don’t do it.
On the plus side, since you are not dancing with the botulism devil in the pale, anaerobic moonlight of canning, you can play around with the recipe. Add more peppers, add more cilantro, add more garlic or lime juice. All those adjustments you can’t do with a canned salsa recipe you can do with this one. Have fun. Just keep the salt and the whey constant and you should be fine.
To prepare, I chopped everything separately in my food processor and combined in a huge stainless bowl. I highly recommend not hand chopping all this. Also, feel free to halve, quarter or otherwise divide this recipe. This makes a huge amount of salsa…I think we ended up with 18 pint jars plus a half-gallon jar plus and about a quart that went straight into me as soon as it was done and never even saw a jar.
Large Batch Lacto-Fermented Salsa
2 gallons peeled, seeded and chopped tomato. I drained off as much extra liquid as I could before measuring so the salsa wouldn’t be too runny
1 gallon chopped red onion
4 cups chopped cilantro
2 cups chopped garlic
1-2 cup chopped jalapeno, to taste
2 cups fresh lime juice (be careful of using bottled lime juice here; in addition to the weird taste, if it has preservatives in it, it may hinder the fermentation)
In addition, for each cup of prepared salsa you will need:
1 tablespoon whey (drained from yogurt is good)
1 teaspoon sea salt
To make this full batch of salsa, you will need 3.5 – 4 cups of whey and about 1.25 cups of salt.
Mix all ingredients except salt and whey until well combined.
Put salsa in spotlessly clean jars with well fitting lids. The volume of the jars does not matter – you can put your salsa into pint jars or quart jars or old pepperoncini jars. I used old glass canned peach jars with lids given to me by a friend – they were perfect for this application.
Fill jars 1 cup at a time, keeping track of how many cups of salsa you put into a jar. Leave at least 1-inch of headspace in the jar (more headspace for larger amounts of salsa).
Now here’s the important part, the part that makes this lacto-fermented salsa instead moldy-in-three-days salsa:
For each cup of salsa, add the following to your jar: 1 tablespoon strained whey and 1 teaspoon kosher salt (if using sea salt, just go slightly easy on the teaspoon)
Lid your jar and give it a good shake to incorporate the whey and the salt. If necessary, open up the jar and smash the vegetables down under the juice. Best not to have anything floating up above the level of the liquid.
Leave the covered jars at room temperature for 1-4 days, depending on your room’s temperature and how much fermentation you like. Use a clean spoon and taste the salsa every day. When it’s fantastic, it’s done. Put it in the fridge and enjoy it for months. (At least, that’s the theory.) If it goes for awhile it’ll get that fizzy fermented flavor. That won’t hurt you, but not everyone likes it. I love a good fizzy pickle, personally, but I’m erring on the side of more lightly fermenting this salsa.
On a non-fermentation note, my little boy is one today!
Happy birthday, sweetie! I love what a sweet, active, determined, happy little boy you are. Thanks for the moral support as I peeled all those tomatoes.
You’ve made our family even more complete and joyful, and we all laugh more because you are a part of our lives. I love you very much.