Well, it’s that time of the season when we suddenly have tomatoes coming out of our ears, and are constantly scheming ways to make our way through the growing pile of split and blemished tomatoes. So far we’ve made various tomato salads and platters (along with the classic caprese salad, I love mint and tomato together), cooked them into curries, simmered them with herbs and veggies to top pasta, baked them into quiche and fritatta, sliced them onto burgers and our morning eggs, and blended them into soup. They keep coming. For every two or three that we find a use for, at least that many more arrive at the doorstep. Since we don’t have a dehydrator, I think I will soon resort to freezing them to cook with or turn into sauce later in the season, when late blight finishes off the plants and we find ourselves hankering for tomato again. But first, I wanted to whip up a batch of fermented salsa.
We made a fermented tomato-peach salsa by the bucketful back at Chrysalis Earth last summer, and it was by far the most amazing salsa I’ve ever eaten. Unfortunately, the recipe they had never quite worked as written, requiring a few adjustments of the proportions before it fermented properly, and was at a completely different scale than I was looking for. Thankfully, I was able to find great guidance online from Zero Waste Chef.
I didn’t follow the recipe precisely, as usual. I only had one stray jalapeño and garlic clove, only one quart jar free, all our cilantro is about one inch tall at the moment, and I didn’t have a lemon or a scale to measure out the tomatoes. Nonetheless, I appreciated the insight into the process and a rough sense of proportions, and to have discovered what looks to be a great resource not only for whole-foods cooking, but also sustainable living. Will have to peruse it more soon, with a bowl of chips and salsa in hand!
UPDATE (8/31/17): Made a second batch… this time I was able to scrounge up four jalapeños and a bolted cilantro plant. (The rest are still no taller than they have been for months, we finally realized a rabbit keeps munching on them!) I also left out the onion initially, so that I could add it already cooked once the fermentation period is over — I noticed with the last batch that while the fermentation helped make the onion more digestible, especially the longer it sat in the fridge, it still did bother my digestion some. I used about 6 medium tomatoes, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt. Yielded a full quart plus almost a pint. Pint was already a bit over-fermented for my taste after about 36 hours, despite the cool weather — I imagine the greater surface area and air space, since the smaller jar wasn’t filled to the brim, made it ferment more quickly and get away from me. It was still great cooked into eggs and beans and greens. And the quart was at the perfect stage! Yum!
(Makes a little over a quart)
3 large tomatoes, cored and finely chopped
2 bell peppers, finely chopped
1 jalapeño, seeds and veins removed,finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2-3 large sprigs of oregano, leaves removed and finely minced
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked chili powder
Mix together in a bowl, then pour into a jar or another non-reactive container (glass, ceramic, or plastic) with a lid, leaving only a slight airspace at the top. Place in a tray or baking pan to catch any overflowing liquid and let sit out of direct sunlight for stirring and tasting it once or twice a day, until it reaches the flavor you like — usually this is within 2-4 days, though you can allow it to ferment for up to a week. Move it to the fridge and enjoy!