Summer Recipes
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Salt pickled tomato and chilli salsa

So few of us, myself included until recently, have ever fermented anything in our lives. So few of us, myself included, have seen anyone ferment food. So few of us have tasted home-made fermented foods. This means a big leap into the unknown.

The truth is fermenting vegetables couldn’t be easier – but you’ll only discover this if you give it a bash. Keep practicing until you’ve mastered the technique. It’s not difficult. The chemistry and mastery of these food will work – it’s worked for population over thousands of years and will continue to do so.

If you are worried about fermented food “going-off” consider this statement by Fred Breidt an expert working for the USDA and who is a specialist on fermented vegetables “There has never been a documented case of foodborne illness from fermented vegetables. Risky is not a word I would use to describe vegetable fermentation.”

Because it is fermented you can keep this stored in a jar in the fridge over the winter and it will not deteriorate – it will only get progressively more sour. For more information on how fermentation works see here.  To understand the nutritional benefits of fermented foods see here.

Ingredients

Tomatoes, chilli, green pepper, red pepper, garlic, spring onions, salt & pepper.

Directions

Place the tomatoes in a blender and add a generous amount of salt. The salt is necessary for the salsa to ferment. The salt added needs to be more than that used for simple seasoning but not so much it becomes unpalatable. The best way to perfect this technique is to layer the tomatoes in the blender sprinkling a tea-spoon of salt with every layer. As the master of fermentation, Sandor Katz, keeps advising – taste, taste and taste again. If it’s too salty go easy – if it has just a faint taste of salt add more. Blend the tomatoes with the salt.

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Chop and cut all of the remaining ingredients into small pieces. Mix the remaining ingredients into the blended tomatoes. Taste to see if you are happy with the salt taste if no, add more. If yes, put the mixture into clean glass jars with a non-reactive screw-top lid.

(You may be seriously tempted not to ferment the salsa and eat it as is since it tastes amazing without being fermented! If, however, you do decide to ferment see below)

Unfermented tomato and chilli salsa

Unfermented tomato and chilli salsa

Leave the glass jar on the kitchen counter or window-sill for three to four days until bubbles become visible and the salty flavour develops a distinctive sour kick. Don’t forget to stir at least once every day. If you see a white film of mould forming on the top of your salsa what ever you do – do not panic! It is not harmful. Simply stir it into the salty mixture where it will be destroyed by the salt. It is, however, important to stir the white yeasty, mould into the sauce. If left too long it will develop more problematic moulds on top. If you have forgotten to stir it and more coloured moulds do appear scrape them off as best you can and stir the salsa so that any spores remaining on top are stirred into the salty brine.

When you are satisfied that the mix has begun to ferment (check for visible bubbles when you stir your salsa mix) place the jar in the fridge. It will continue to ferment though at a slower pace. Once the salsa has turned sufficiently acidic nothing will grow on it. This salsa tastes amazing with some of my summer burger suggestions.

Ready to go! Fermented tomato and chilli salsa.

Ready to go! Fermented tomato and chilli salsa.

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