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Although down here in the South, we usually have been harvesting fruit and veggies from our garden for a month now, this year has been different. It has been so hot and dry that much of my garden just hasn’t produced or have burned up! I have been wanting to make fermented salsa for several weeks and I’ve just had to wait, and wait, and wait. But my wait is finally over. This week I’ve harvest enough tomatoes for my first batch of fermented salsa and I can’t wait to share it with you!
But first you may be asking,
What is fermented salsa?
Basically fermented salsa is when you allow freshly made salsa to sit out for a day or two to culture (ferment) good bacteria (like probiotics) before storing it. Unlike store bought salsa, or even home canned salsa, fermented salsa is not cooked or heated. (Yes, you heard me right! No suffering over a hot stove in the summer for this good stuff!) Therefore, all the enzymes remain in it. Raw fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients and enzymes, many of which are heat sensitive. So cooking your fruits and veggies kills off some of these. Now, that’s not to say that we should only eat raw foods. Some nutrients actually increase, or are made more bioavailable, when cooked. These are usually the exception not the rule though. Since fermented salsa needs no cooking or heating, all of these enzymes remain.
What are the benefits of fermented salsa?
As I’ve already said, you are getting the raw enzymes, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Fermented salsa also has the added benefits of probiotics. Microorganisms, especially lactobacilli, are everywhere. If given the right environment, these organisms will multiply and add flavor and health to a dish. We just need to encourage this multiplication. Sally Fallon quotes in Nourishing Traditions
“There is something fascinating about microorganisms. They are everywhere: in the air, in water, in our food, on our bodies, in our bodies, invisible and without number, capable of multiplying with extraordinary rapidity, agents of illness and even of death, but also the foundation of life and health….Grain, pulses, vegetables, fruits and milk-these are the foods that can be transformed by fungus and bacteria, using very ancient procedures, in such a way as to confer on them qualities they initially lacked, as well as to preserve them without the aid of modern industrial processes. -Claude Aubert Les Ailments Fermentes Traditionnels”
How then do you ferment salsa?
To get these good microorganisms to multiply in your salsa, you will add salt and lemon juice (although some people add whey from yogurt too) to encourage their growth and discourage the bad bacteria from taking over. Once you’ve made your salsa, you will need to pour it into a glass jar and let it sit out on the counter for up to 48 hours to allow the fermentation (multiplication of the good bacteria) to continue. Then you will move it to cold storage (i.e. the fridge) until it gets eaten up- which usually doesn’t take long at our house. I have to admit, because of the short fermentation time for salsa, it’s one of my favorites. Yep, I’m pretty impatient when it comes to good, healthy food. 🙂
Just a few things to remember about fermented salsa.
Since everything in this recipe is easily digestible, you can eat this salsa immediately, but you won’t get the added benefits of the probiotics. Since you’re not canning it, you cannot store fermented salsa in a pantry. You will need to keep it in cold storage once you’ve finished fermenting it. But fermented salsa will last in the fridge for several months. Last year, I made several batches in July and we were still eating it around Christmas! I did have one large batch go bad on me and it was obvious-lots of mold all over the top. Yuck! It was a large batch that I was saving, so if you’re planning on storing it for several months, I would suggest making smaller pint sized batches. That way, if one does go bad you don’t lose as much. And the smaller batches tend to keep better too.
Want to watch me make fermented salsa? Check out this video I did on periscope.
Now you have one more way to preserve that harvest! And I hope your harvest truly is bountiful this year. And if it has been and you’ve been making salsa, tell us what you’re favorite way to make it is. Or comment and tell us what your secret ingredient is that makes it tastes oh so good? I would love to hear from you!