Fermented Salsa

I named this blog experimentingaswegrow for good reason.

My first trial jar of fermented salsa, with the accompanying mess in the back ground.

My first trial jar of fermented salsa, with accompanying mess in the background.

When I told Stan I was planning to make fermented salsa with last season’s tomato crop (waiting patiently in my neighbour’s basement freezer) he raised his eyebrows. “What’s wrong with good ol’ fashioned canned salsa?” he asked. It’s a fair question, but my answer has more to do with why I’m interested in the fermented variety:

  • Fermenting preserves food with less energy and labour than canning, or refrigeration
  • Fermented food is alive; canned food is boiled to death. When healthy bacteria is allowed to grow it produces lactic acid–a natural preservative that improves digestibility and vitamin absorption. Almost every traditional culture around the globe incorporates fermented food into their diet (kimchi, chicha, sauerkraut,etc.)
  • Fermented salsa tastes like fresh salsa

The fourth bullet point, which deserves its own paragraph, is creativity. I find it outright impossible to follow a recipe. I’ve made an earnest effort to heed exact measurements and ingredients on numerous occasions, but I always end up slipping in an extra teaspoon of spice, a little more butter, a little less sugar…  Despite inconsistent results and longer prep times (tasting, adding, re-tasting, and adjusting, takes way more time than simply following instructions) I am hopelessly incurable. I call it Recipe Defiance Disorder.

In that sense, fermented salsa is right up my alley; it doesn’t require exact measurements (unlike canning). You simply make up a fresh salsa, throw it into jars, let it ferment, and then store in a cool spot. It sounds so simple, it’s hard to believe I spent hours reading books and researching online until I was confident enough to give it a try.

There are many different recipes online so I won’t add more to the cloud, except for outlining the basics:

  1. Chop up fresh salsa ingredients (I used frozen tomatoes. They are easy to peel if left in a bowl of hot water for a few moments)
  2. Add salt – the salt keeps unwanted bacteria from proliferating before the lactobacilli culture kicks in.
  3. Add whey – You can make your own whey by straining some natural, full-fat yogurt.
  4. Pour salsa into clean jars and let it sit at room temp. for a few days. Store salsa in a cool place.

Here are some pictures from the process:

Yogurt draining to make cheese and whey

Yogurt draining to make cheese and whey


Yogurt cheese–what’s left of the yogurt after the whey drains.

The yogurt cheese (top right) put to good use!

The yogurt cheese (top right) put to good use!

Raw ingredients from first batch of salsa

Raw ingredients from first batch of salsa


I put way more cilantro, garlic, and jalapenos in my second batch. The flavour is intense now, but I am hoping it mellows with the fermentation.

Freshly made salsa, ready to ferment.

Freshly made salsa, on third day of ferment. I will let them sit on my counter for a day or two more until I can taste a bit of a tang and see more bubbles coming to the surface. Then I will transfer the jars to cold storage.

… I wondered (for a moment) if I should wait to post this until I open a perfectly aged jar of salsa… but I’m too impatient. Ahh, so much for writing with the voice of authority. Check back in two months for an update!


Speaking of updates, if any of you are lying awake at night wondering how my cowl turned out, you can now rest peacefully:


Are others of you preoccupied with Susanna’s herbal ear oil and lymphatic massage? We continue to faithfully administer both to her, every night. Her hearing still isn’t perfect, but she has not suffered another ear infection (it must be the garlic and oregano!) and her ears are finally starting to pop, indicating movement and drainage (it must be the calendula and massage!)

Experimentally yours,



9 thoughts on “Fermented Salsa

  1. So you have RDD? Now we know….:)
    Your cowl is so cute…..except I wouldn’t have known that’s what it’s called. There are so many different kinds of scarves people are making to wear around their necks. Love the variety.

  2. Okay, you’ve really got me thinking about fermentation. I’ve got several bags of last summer’s tomatoes sitting in MY basement freezer. Somehow between moving and being pregnant I didn’t have the energy to deal with them in the fall. Now I know what to do with them, and with all my frozen whey, too!
    ps. I can identify with your recipe-following issues. 🙂

    • Best of luck!! I love working with frozen tomatoes for salsa. And you have the whey already! I did a big batch without much of a trial run, but I do not recommend doing it that way. If you try this I would love to hear about the results…

  3. What a pleasant surprise to find posts from my 2 favorite bloggers when I turned my computer on this morning! You and Lisa…
    RDD-I have it too, but not so nearly so severe a case as you!

  4. Pingback: Fermented Sauce and Sundried Tomatoes | Experimenting as we grow

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