Fermented Tomato Salsa

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.

tomato salsa

Getting started

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.

tomato salsa

Transferring the tomato salsa ingredients to the pickling jar.

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. 

Mashing the vegetable.

Mashing the vegetables to release the juices.

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.

Let the fermentation begin!

Let the fermentation begin!

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

tomato salsa

The tomato salsa is done.


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Posted in Fermented Foods, Paleo Diet Recipes Tagged with: , , ,
10 comments on “Fermented Tomato Salsa
  1. Eileen says:

    Do You blanch tomatoes?

  2. Connie says:

    Do you peel the tomatoes? If you use hot chili’s, do you peel them?

    • Ruth Almon says:

      Hi Connie,
      I didn’t peel the tomatoes. I don’t eat hot chili so I can’t help you with that.
      Good luck!

  3. Bernadette says:

    How long does it take to ferment?

  4. do you have to add whey, water kifer to it in order for it to ferment or does it do it by its self?

  5. Sherry says:

    Do you ever refrigerate the salsa at any point? Will refrigeration stop the fermentation process? How long will the salsa keep?

    • Ruth Almon says:

      Hi there Sherry,

      When it fermented to my liking I refrigerate it. That slows the fermentation process way down… basically stops it for all practical purposes, unless you’re hanging onto it for years. It should keep for many months. Truth is, it never lasted that long. :)

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