Every year I process more than a few jars of homemade salsa in the waterbath canner. You see, salsa is one of our favorite ‘sauces’ to have on hand. Particularly so, when it’s made from home grown, sun ripened tomatoes! And when I discovered you could ferment salsa as well and keep it in cold storage, I just had to try.
Fermenting your salsa takes far less work than canning it up and I think the flavor is better, more reminiscent of a fresh tomato. After making and lightly fermenting salsa, I store it away in our cold room where we try to eat it up over the next few months.
Here is my favorite, fermented tomato salsa recipe for you to try!
How to Make Fermented Tomato Salsa
I know that fermenting tomatoes (and tomato products) is a bit unusual. But if you’re like me and appreciate finding simple ways to put up good food, you’ll love how basic this recipe is!
Step 1: Prepare Your Produce
The first step in the fermenting process is to chop up your ingredients. I like to make this recipe with the last tomatoes of the year. You know, the ones that the frost would have killed if you hadn’t brought them inside to ripen?
Dice your tomatoes into 1×1 inch cubes and toss them into a large measuring cup, until you have enough for a batch of salsa.
Also slice up your onions and garlic, adding them to the mix.
Step 2: Add in Salt and Seasonings
When your tomatoes, onions and garlic have been prepared, it’s time to add in dried herbs (you can use fresh if they’re in season), salt and if you want some heat, dried chili pepper seeds.
Both dried chili seeds and dried herbs will eventually soften in the tomato juices and yield their full flavor. In this recipe, I use dill and thyme as my flavoring. But if you prefer a different herb (such as cilantro), feel free to use it instead!
Measure your salt and seasonings into the salsa. Be sure to mix them in well.
Step 3: Ladle Into Jars for Fermentation
Your salsa needs to ferment for a few days before you place it in cold storage. Ladle the goods into wide mouth jars, filling them no more ¾ of the way.
That’s right! Do not fill your jars to the rim! Tomatoes make a very vigorous ferment and you’ll want some extra space to ensure a bubble over doesn’t happen when wild organisms begin working on your salsa.
Add lids to the jars (I like to use tin canning lids and bands) and leave things to ferment at the back of your kitchen counter.
Step 4: Watch for Signs of Fermentation
Due to their sugar content, tomatoes can quickly become overly tangy and even slightly boozy in their flavor profile. Keep your eye on the jars and watch for air bubbles in the salsa. This is a sign of fermentation. So is a buildup of CO2 inside the jars. Quickly loosen the lids off every day to release any pressure that might be collecting.
Within 2-4 days your salsa should begin fermenting. If you aren’t sure, go ahead and taste test your salsa. It should have a fresh tomato flavor and also a hint of zip and snap to it.
When you taste this, you know it’s time to put your salsa into cold storage!
Step 5: Store Your Salsa In a Cool Place
Storing salsa in a cool place will slow the fermenting process and keep your tomatoes from becoming too pungent and tangy.
If you don’t have a cold room or root cellar, the refrigerator is the best place! You can put your jars into the refrigerator as they are. If you’re tight on space, you can keep all your salsa in large jar and scoop out however much you need, when you need it.
And if space isn’t an issue, you may wish to put salsa into smaller jars so it’s easier to pull one out for the table!
Whatever you do, be sure to use tight-fitting lids to limit the possibility of mold growth!
Step 6: How to Check Your Salsa
Always check your salsa before using. It should always smell bright and tangy, and you don’t ever want to find mold growing on the surface. If anything does smell off or if mold does appear, you’d be wise to throw it out.
As time goes on, your tomatoes will become softer and the texture, less desirable. I usually count on getting 3 months of shelf life from my salsa. Any longer than this and I find the taste is too overpowering!
It may take your taste buds a while to adjust to the flavor of fermented tomato salsa. It most certainly has it’s own unique flavor profile. I recommend slowly incorporating it into your meals, until you’ve grown accustomed this unique fermented food.
You can get yourself a free printable of this fermented tomato salsa recipe below. Enjoy!
Fermented Tomato Salsa Recipe
- 6 C diced tomatoes
- 2 C diced sweet onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons dill (or your herb of choice)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Rinse tomatoes and remove cores
- Dice into 1 inch squares and place in a mixing bowl
- Peel onion and garlic cloves
- Dice alliums into small pieces and add to tomatoes
- Measure out salt and add to salsa
- Sprinkle herbs on top
- Stir everything in well
- Ladle salsa into jars
- Pack salsa down until the top is covered by juices
- Cover with canning lid and metal band, being sure to tighten things down
- Leave jars to ferment at the back of your counter for 2-4 days
- Break the seal every day to release any build up that may occur
- Taste test after day 2 for a light, tangy flavor and leave for no more than 4 days
- Store jars of salsa in a cold room or the refrigerator
- Use in 3-4 month's time