Fermented Tomato Salsa

Fermented Tomato Salsa

Fermented Tomato Salsa is always a favorite around here. The original recipe, which I got from Nourished Kitchen calls for hot peppers: a mix of jalapeños and serranos. We’re not so big on spicy foods, so I make it with bell peppers and sometimes add just a bit of cayenne pepper, but you can use either, or a combination, to get the degree of spiciness you enjoy.

Calculating quantities

For me the challenge with taking a pickling recipe and making it in my own kitchen was always figuring out the quantities. Firstly, there’s the issue of metric measure vs. Imperial. The original tomato salsa recipe I used called for a 1 gallon crock and I wanted to make ¾ of a liter (about 4/5 of a quart). I was stumped on how to calculate the number of tomatoes to use. And anyway, vegetable sizes varies greatly.

I figured out a method that works for me. I cut the vegetables and place them in a bowl. I’ll cut a few tomatoes, then a couple of peppers, an onion, some garlic, back to the tomatoes, repeat with the peppers until I think I have the right quantity to fill my pickling jar. Then I transfer it to the jar to check and measure it. If I still need significantly more, I’ll transfer it back to the bowl, add a little of all the ingredients, and transfer it back. I play with it until I get it right.

The important thing to remember is you don’t have to be exact. A little more pepper, a little less onion, it still tastes good.

  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Start to finish: Up to 5 days.
  • For a 3/4 liter (4/5 quart) jar


  • 4 tomatoes (you can use soft ones)
  • 2 bell peppers (or comparable quantity of jalapeños and serranos)
  • 5 finely sliced garlic cloves
  • fresh oregano (optional)
  • 2 tsp. cumin powder
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 ½ – 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 onion

Let’s start!

  1. Chop the tomatoes and peppers and put them in a large bowl. Note: if you use hot peppers, wear gloves and take necessary precautions.
  2. Add the oregano, cumin and salt, and mix.
  3. Chop and add the onions. I leave them till last to minimize crying.
  4. When you think you have enough vegetables to fill your pickling jar, transfer a few tablespoons of the mixture at a time.
  5. Now start mashing. The vegetables must release their juices so they can become submerged in their own liquid. To mash them I use a narrow jar, but you can use anything that fits. If you prefer, you can mash the veggies in the bowl before you transfer them to the jar.
  6. When the solids are submerged, close your jar and let the salsa start to do its magic (i.e. let it sit around and ferment) for 3 – 5 days. You can open the jar while it’s fermenting – it won’t stop the process. It doesn’t have to be firmly closed, but it can be.

Tip: You don’t have to fill the jar right up to the top.

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