One thing I can always rely on is that when the frost starts to fall, I’ll still have a ton of green tomatoes in my garden! You can pick them and let them ripen inside, but they just don’t have the flavor that they do when they ripen out on the vine. What do you do with green tomatoes? Make salsa! I love green tomato salsa, and I’ve been excited to try lacto-fermenting to reap the added benefits of probiotics and healthy enzymes that the process produces.
Putting the garden to sleep is a bittersweet moment for me…the coming frost means that summer is officially over and winter is on the way. On the other hand, it means crisp, cool days and snowy evenings spent sipping hot apple cider by the fire! Pulling up the tomato vines, it helps knowing that every last tomato…no matter how small and green…can be put to good use. In the past I’ve made green tomato pickle relish and spiced green tomato pickles. But I think that green tomato salsa is my new favorite! It’s tangy and flavorful, and when you lacto-ferment the salsa rather than heat and can it, you get all sorts of healthy benefits.
First of all, you’re retaining all the nutrients that might be damaged by the heat in the canning process. Second, you are preserving your salsa in a natural, healthy way! And finally, you are gaining the benefits of enzymes that aid in digestion and probiotics that balance your gut when you ferment your food.
The ingredients are simple: Organic tomatoes (green and red or a mix will work), onion, garlic, peppers, spices and apple cider. Make sure that you use the organic, raw and unfiltered apple cider that contains “The Mother” (like this). This is the culture that will start the lacto-fermentation process in your salsa! I also added a teaspoon of cultured yogurt just to be safe. I followed a recipe found at the Cultures for Health website to get started.
Running your fresh vegetables through a food processor makes making salsa so fast! I use the grater attachment on mine, which gives you just enough texture without leaving large chunks.
Once you’ve got your vegetables processed, add some lemon juice, salt, chili powder and the vinegar and yogurt and stir it up. Ladle into sterilized jars, top with fermentation lids (like these), and then set them aside in a cool, dark place. In two weeks, your healthy salsa will be ready to eat!
I have to admit, it’s been a little hard for me breaking into the lacto-fermenting method of preserving. I love the tangy, savory taste that fermented foods have, but at first it went against everything I’d learned about how to prepare food. Do you really mean I should just pack it in a jar, and then…leave it out on the counter? It caused a bit of panic in me not to be putting that food in the fridge, where it “belongs.” However, generations of people survived on fermented food before refrigeration was invented. They also reaped the benefits of improved digestion through the enzymes and probiotics produced during fermentation. Studies are showing that not only do probiotics help your gut, they can also improve neurological symptoms like anxiety, depression and ADD! Sign me up, please!
Three cheers for probiotics.
P.S. This salsa is a perfect partner for sprouted tortilla chips!
Lacto-Fermented Green Tomato Salsa
(Slightly adapted from this recipe)
About 6 medium sized, organic green tomatoes…or a combination of smaller tomatoes to make about 4 or 5 cups of chopped tomatoes.
1 or 2 organic red tomatoes
5 organic red jalapenos
2 organic green banana peppers
1 large organic onion
1/2 cup organic cilantro (optional)
7 cloves organic garlic
3 tablespoons organic fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons kombucha or organic apple cider vinegar with “The Mother”
1 teaspoon raw organic yogurt with active cultures
3 teaspoons sea salt
3 teaspoons all-natural chili powder
1. Run the fresh tomatoes, onion and peppers through a food processor (I use the shredding attachment), or chop them finely by hand. Put them all in a large mixing bowl.
2. Crush or mince the garlic. Mince the cilantro, and add them both to the tomato mixture.
3. Stir in the lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or kombucha. Add yogurt and chili powder and salt and stir well.
4. Pack salsa in sterilized jars, using a canning funnel. Top with fermentation lids and firmly tighten the lids down on the jars. Fill fermentation bubblers with water.
5. Set aside for 3 days to 2 weeks (checking the taste periodically) in a cool, dark place away from sunlight.
6. After fermentation, remove the fermentation lids and replace with regular canning lids. You can process the jars for 30 minutes in hot water and store, or just put them in cold storage. Processing with hot water will result in the live cultures being killed, so mine are going in the fridge!
Have you tried lacto-fermenting? Do you have some tips?