Fermented Salsa Recipe and Beginner's Guide to Fermentation
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Fermented Salsa Recipe and Beginner’s Guide to Fermentation

This fermented salsa recipe is super easy to make once you know the basic guidelines of fermentation. I will break it down for you step by step so that you can throw confusion to the curb (scroll down to go straight to the fermented salsa recipe).

 

When you hear the word fermentation do you immediately think of stinky, slimy cabbage? Or jars filled with unidentifiable green things growing mold in various colored furs? Maybe it is the invisible bacteria that concerns you?

 

*** This blog post contains affiliate links. By purchasing products through these links I earn a small commission without it costing you anything in addition to the cost of the product. I only recommend products I love and use so you can rest assured that the products you are buying have been tested in my kitchen or on my homestead. Thank you for supporting Road to the Farm!***

 

All of these thoughts swirled through my mind more than once before I learned how to ferment.

 

And of all of the things, you can ferment, salsa seemed like a horrible idea. I immediately thought of salsa that has been in the fridge too long and has a vinegary taste. You know, when the tomatoes are so mushy that the only distinguishable parts left are the skins? I just couldn’t wrap my brain around how fermenting it could be delicious.

 

That is until I got to taste it. It was love at first bite. The flavors were even more complex than fresh salsa, and that 6-hour window of perfect salsa just blew wide open to weeks or even months of delicious salsa.

 

lacto-fermented salsa recipe

 

I was still skeptical that it would hold up over time until I tried it. You know what, it does! It stores beautifully in the fridge, and the texture of the tomatoes stays firm and delightful with this fermented salsa recipe.

 

Keys to Successful Fermentation

  • Fresh, organic vegetables
  • Oxygen-free vessel
  • Salt
  • Brine
  • Time

 

 organic fresh vegetables

 

 

Start with fresh, crisp organic vegetables

The pesticides on conventional vegetables can inhibit the growth of beneficial bacteria. You also want to make sure your veggies are crisp and fresh. Using old veggies can make your ferments more susceptible to mold.

 

Fermenting is so easy with a Fido jar!

There are lots of vessel options for fermenting. Your goal is to allow the gasses that build up to escape without allowing any oxygen into the container. You can achieve this with an air lock, a water dam or a seal. My favorite method is with Fido jars*.

 

Fermenting

 

Fido jars are a specific brand of bail and wire jars that have an excellent seal. They are also called hermetic jars. I have tried airlocks and found it hard to maintain them. Fermentation crocks that are made to have a water dam are very costly and just using a mason jar produced many failures for me.

 

Since using Fido jars, I have not had even one fermented failure! They seal tight enough that oxygen cannot enter, but the gasses can still escape. And they are very easy just to pack and close up. I love simplicity!

 

Salt keeps bad bacteria from growing

Real salt* is full of minerals; it allows the beneficial bacteria to grow but keeps the mold and bad bacteria at bay. Make sure that you use Real Salt, sea salt or a type of pink salt. Iodized table salt will not work and can actually suppress the good bacteria.

 

lacto fermentation salt

 

Brine is simply liquid mixed with salt

It either comes from mixing salt with the natural juices in your veggies or water. Both sauerkraut and salsa have enough juices that all you have to do is add salt. Pickles, green beans and carrots, on the other hand, all need a salt water solution added to the jar

 

Set it on the counter and forget about it for a while

Ferments need to sit at room temperature to develop all of those good “gut bugs.” Salsa only needs 24-72 hours to ferment, and sauerkraut can ferment up to 12 weeks.

 

fermentation

 

While actively fermenting it will bubble and sometimes push liquid out of the jar. This usually only lasts for the first 1-3 days. Then the process slows down, and beneficial bacteria keep on multiplying.

 

We love the taste of salsa after 24-36 hours of fermentation and sauerkraut at about 4 weeks. You will find the sweet spot for your family too. And of course, this can vary depending on the temperature in the house. Bacteria grow faster in warmer temperatures. The ideal temperature is right around 70F degrees.

 

Refrigerate or move to cold storage

Moving your fermented foods into colder temperatures slows or nearly stops the fermentation process. Foods that ferment quickly like this fermented salsa need to be moved to the fridge, but foods like sauerkraut and pickles can go into a cool basement.

 

fermented vegetables

 

This is where we see just how amazing fermentation really is. You can make salsa from gorgeous, fresh tomatoes then set it on the counter for two days and it becomes magically preserved! Now it will last and last in the fridge. I have heard for as long as a year.

 

I don’t know about you, but salsa never lasts that long before it gets eaten at our house, so I have no personal experience with keeping it in the fridge for a year. Even when I made 14 liters of this fermented salsa recipe it didn’t last more than a couple months.

 

Fermented salsa recipe

 

 

Fermented Salsa Recipe

  • Cut up your fresh veggies – don’t add the salt yet
  • Weigh the salsa
  • Calculate salt measurement
  • Stir in the salt
  • Pack the jar
  • Leave on the counter for 24-72 hours

 

Cut up the tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, and cilantro

You can use your favorite fresh salsa recipe or follow my family’s favorite recipe. Make sure to use fresh veggies, not cooked or canned. The live enzymes and bacteria that live on fresh veggies are essential for lacto-fermentation.

 

fresh salsa

 

Weigh your salsa

Using weight rather than volume measurements is much more accurate and is the preferred method when it comes to fermenting. The recipe I use for salsa makes about 65-70 ounces (or 8 cups) of salsa which fills a 2 liter Fido jar perfectly!

 

To weigh the salsa, set a bowl on the scale and “tare” it out. It will show the weight as “0” now. Now fill the bowl with your salsa and write down the total weight. For simplicity’s sake let’s say it comes out to 70 ounces.

 

lacto-fermenting with salt

 

Calculate the salt – don’t worry, it’s easy

We need a 2.5% salt saturation. Grab a calculator and start by entering the total weight of the salsa. We are using 70 ounces for our example. Then multiply by .025 the answer 1.75 is how much salt you need to add – nearly 2 ounces.

 

Total Salsa Weight x .025 = Salt You Need to Add

 

Weighing the salt is easy. Just like the salsa, start by placing a bowl or measuring cup on the scale. Zero it out using the “tare” button. Then slowly pour the salt into the container until the right measurement is reached.

 

Real salt

 

By Volume

If you don’t have a scale, then use this method. I find that most of the time my salsa weighs about 8.5 ounces per cup (this is why there are different cups for liquid and dry ingredients; not everything that fits into a 1 cup measurement equals 8 ounces).

 

You will get the most consistent results by weight but if you don’t have a scale and want to give it a try, use 1 teaspoon of salt per cup of salsa.

 

Stir the salt in evenly

The salt* needs to be evenly distributed throughout the salsa for delicious, consistent results. Don’t stress over this but do mix it thoroughly.

 

whey free fermenting

 

Pack the jar

Making sure that your Fido jar* is packed tight without air pockets is one of the best ways to keep mold at bay. Oxygen is the enemy of fermentation. Fill the jar with salsa then gently press it down and fill to the shoulder of the jar. There is no reason to pound it as many people do with sauerkraut, but it is good to give it a good press.

 

**Please note: these instructions are specific to Fido/hermetic jars. If you are using any other fermenting vessel, you may need to add a 2.5% salt water solution to make sure that everything is under the brine.

 

Leave it on the counter

This is the part that feels strange the first couple times. You work hard to cut up all of those veggies, and then you leave it sitting out. We are so conditioned to quickly put food away that this can be scary the first time or two.

 

Fermented salsa recipe

 

Don’t worry; you have done your part to measure carefully. Before you know it, you will be enjoying this delicious salsa recipe.

 

Your ferment will bubble and may even push some liquid out of the jar. That is ok. It is comforting to know that it is fermenting and beneficial bacteria are multiplying and preserving your food.

 

Time to taste this fermented salsa recipe

If you see some bubbles in the salsa when you move the jar and it has been at least 24 hours, then it is time to taste the salsa. Use a clean spoon and see if you like the flavor. If it is bubbly and you enjoy it, go ahead and throw it in the fridge.

 

When the house is cold, this might take as much as 3 days, but if the house is real warm it will most likely be ready in 1 day. Watch for the bubbling and gurgling. It won’t be like champaign bubbles because they tend to get stuck on the tomato pieces. You will simply see more and more bubbles form around all of the veggies.

 

Store it up to 1 year in the fridge

Can you even believe the words you just read? I will never cease to be amazed by the way that fermenting foods increases the nutrients, preserves fresh veggies and fruit in their raw state, and makes everything taste better?

 

Fermented salsa can be stored in the fridge for up to one year. As I said at the beginning of this post, that is information I have gleaned from expert fermenters. I have only been able to keep it as long as 2 months before we gobbled it up…because it is SO delicious. And your body begins craving all of that good bacteria.

 

We love this fermented salsa recipe served with:

Late July Organic Multigrain Tortilla Chips*

Jakson’s Honest Sprouted Red Corn Tortilla Chips

Lettuce Tacos

Grain Free Fajitas

Taco Salad and

On top of soup and stew*

 

 

You did it!

You fermented salsa! Now looking back you are saying, “I can’t believe how easy that is; what was I scared of?” At least that is what I said.

 

There are so many more fermented foods that we can tackle. I love working in the kitchen together. What do you want to try next?

 

*** This blog post contains affiliate links. By purchasing products through these links I earn a small commission without it costing you anything in addition to the cost of the product. I only recommend products I love and use so you can rest assured that the products you are buying have been tested in my kitchen or on my homestead. Thank you for supporting Road to the Farm!***

16 Comments
  • Toni Sanchez
    Reply

    Hi Melanie!!!!!
    I have had so much fun making and sharing Kim Chee, Kraut, and Asparagus! It’s wonderful.
    Monthly, I do Jalepenos and carrots for the breakfast I help at, making my Pickled Jalepeno
    vegetables. The first month, I did each veg. in it’s own jar. Good thing too!
    The cauliflower got mushy, red bells soft. Each month I try something different.
    Bottom line, I’m not using vinegar ( which some folk can’t handle, saves me $!
    I’m not stuck at the last minute chopping up a bunch of veggies!
    As for Kim Chee, I’ve been going to the oriental market in Mesa for veggies.
    The Napa Cabbage was $.39 compared to $1.99 here in Prescott! So I’d get carried away and
    get m1ybe 10 #s and meet at a friends house and we chop and pack and maybe have a glass of wine!
    Any way, as for the salsa, I will try w/out the tomatoes and I’m sure it will be great. Not the same, but
    it’ll work. My friend is allergic to tomatoes…..:(
    I do not like cilantro, how do you think regular or Italian Parsley will taste?
    Anyhew…….I’ve enjoyed my science projects, have not baked anything in a while.
    Sure glad you guys are healing and back sharing your progress!
    Love you, you and your family are in my prayers, Take care and God Bless!!!
    Toni Sanchez

    April 30, 2018 at 10:37 am
  • Melissah Herold
    Reply

    I have a quick question about fermenting salsa. I cannot get the tomatoes and such to stay below the water. Traditional weights etc do not work with the chopped veggies! The first couple times I made it I had used an oil layer in the top three prevent mold and that worked great. ..until I read that can cause botulism lol. Since I quit using oil every batch has grown fuzzy mold. What is your secret?

    August 4, 2018 at 4:50 am
      • Melissah Herold
        Reply

        So you don’t need to get the air out of them somehow? What about when you open it to taste to see if they are done will that spoil it?

        August 4, 2018 at 10:47 am
          • Melissah Herold

            I followed your link and bought a fido jar. It fixed my mold issues, thanks so much!

            August 22, 2018 at 2:20 am
  • Roxann Keyzer
    Reply

    Is it ok to use a bit less salt?

    August 16, 2018 at 11:23 am
  • Suzie Berryman
    Reply

    I fermented my salsa in bigger chunks. I drained it and then used the food processor to make a smoother salsa. It is exactly what I wanted and the taste is amazing. My question is: what can I do with the left over liquid? I don’t want to just throw away all that goodness.

    I use the Fido jars all over my kitchen but didn’t think to ferment in them. Thank you.

    September 26, 2018 at 8:19 am
      • Suzie Berryman
        Reply

        Melanie. Thanks for the tip. I was thinking vegetable soup. So, here’s what I did. First I made a Bloody Mary. It tasted very healthy and was totally drinkable. Then, I decided to make more salsa. I put the rest in. OMG, 1 day and I’m already having to let the gases out. So active. I’m going to try for two weeks this time. The first batch is almost gone. It is so good. I’m also on my second batches of hot sauce. It is so good. I love fermenting. I didn’t think food that is so good for you could be so much fun to make. Thanks again for your website and expert information.

        October 1, 2018 at 6:55 pm
  • Jeanette
    Reply

    This is my first time fermenting salsa (or softer kind of fruit!), but I’m wondering if I did something wrong because I’m not seeing any bubbles or noticing any off gassing.

    I chopped up all of my veggies and tomatoes on Sunday night and put them in the fridge, but I set added my airlocks and set my jars on the counter Monday evening . All of my other vegetable ferments have been really bubbly, but not this one. I screwed open the lid to give it a sniff, and I didn’t notice anything super off putting, but the tomatoes definitely lost their firm bite. I grabbed one of small chunks of tomato and it almost disintegrated between my fingers, but they were rather mealy tomatoes to begin with and I crushed them up a bit. I tasted it and it was definitely different, but I can’t decide if it tastes like the beginning stages of rot or ferment 🙁 So far there is no mold or sliminess to the brine.

    I’m wondering if it’s just taking a while to get going because of being refrigerated on Sunday and that my apartment is really cold.

    Any advice?

    October 2, 2018 at 3:45 pm

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