Recipe: Lacto-Fermented Green Tomato Salsa

Recipe: Lacto-Fermented Green Tomato Salsa

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!


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Have you tried lacto-fermenting?  Do you have some tips?


Photography by Jennifer Leung Johnson


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About the author

Hi! I'm Erica Hale and I write about family, faith and food on my blog, These Three Remain. I am thankful (yes, thankful!) for my gluten intolerance, which was the catalyst that led my family of five into a lifestyle of healthy eating and a love of real food. When I'm not busy homeschooling or playing in the kitchen, I enjoy gardening, music, photography, and hiking with my husband. Learn more.

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  1. Laura

    I usually lacto-ferment my things for about 3-5 days. Any longer than that and I get mold growing on the top of the food. Is the 2 weeks necessary?

    1. Post author
      Erica Hale

      Hi, Laura! This was one of my first experiences fermenting food, I’ve done regular salsa before and it only took 3 or 4 days. I used a recipe I found here: which said to leave it “up to 2 weeks” and mine took a looong time to ferment, I left it the full 2 weeks. It was pretty tangy but didn’t mold…I did have it in a pretty cool place though. Looking through recipes, it seems like maybe green tomatoes might take a little longer? Not sure if that’s the case, but a lot of recipes with green tomatoes seemed to take more like 5-12 days. I think I’d check it periodically to see how it’s doing, it may take less time under different conditions! I’ll go up and put a note in the post about that, thanks. Let me know if you try it!

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