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?
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.
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
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 airlock, a water dam or a seal. My favorite method is with Fido jars*.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 really 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 increase 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
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?