Fermented salsa is delicious and healthy. Because it’s fermented, there are endless variations you can create to make the salsa exactly the way you like it.
One of my goals this year was to learn how to ferment. For some reason I’ve always found it a bit intimidating, and I always feared I would do it wrong and end up with something that wasn’t safe.
You certainly can make mistakes but once I pulled the trigger on learning fermentation, I realized it’s so much easier than I thought.
Another goal this year was to try to start putting my autoimmune disease in remission. A good doctor was instrumental in this, and I learned that healing my gut was the very first thing that needed to happen.
Supplements to support my thyroid have helped, but the research I’ve done points to healing the gut as being the number one priority to start with. Your immune system begins in your gut, so having a healthy one is essential to a healthy immune system.
Having a Healthy Gut
For a healthy gut, you need a healthy microbiome. In comes fermentation. It is also called lacto-fermentation because during this process you are providing an environment for the good lactobacillus bacteria (good bacteria) to thrive and multiply while killing off the bad bacteria.
Lactobacillus, and other bacteria, are naturally present on food. The salt used in fermenting is what creates the hospitable environment for the lactobacillus, and the hostile environment for other bacteria.
Can you tell I was trained as a scientist? (Believe me, the details were worse before editing.) 😅
That’s probably more information then you wanted, but it gives you a little idea on what we’re going for here.
Fermented Salsa Keeps All The Nutrients
One more thing I want to bring to your attention is that unlike canning, fermenting salsa retains all the nutrients of the vegetables. When you can something, the process of heating it up denatures some of the nutrients in the food. But by fermenting you get to retain all of them because there’s no heating involved. The product isn’t room temperature shelf stable, but it is still a form of preservation and will last in your fridge for months. Definitely long enough to get you through the winter if you don’t finish it first!
Salsa is one of my absolute favorite foods. I could eat a whole meal of just tortilla chips and salsa. Between you and me, I have done that more than once! If you have too, it’s completely okay. We’re allowed those moments in life. Salsa is one of the few items I have zero portion control over.
Everyone has their own idea of salsa. Sometimes that is the typical tomato/pepper/onion type of salsa. Or maybe you like yours with pineapple, mango, something else to sweeten it up. There’s no wrong way to make salsa. If you enjoy the way you make it, then that’s the best way for you!
Making Fermented Salsa
The only constant ingredient you need for to make fermented salsa is salt. Everything else can vary in types of produce and amounts. This truly is customizable to you and your family’s taste. It can be as hot or mild as you like, sweet or savory, your imagination is the only limit.
Today I’m making a basic salsa because it is the favorite in our house. The ingredients I’m using are tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro, and lime. If you are one of those people that think cilantro tastes like soap, it’s probably best to omit that ingredient. We love it, so I make sure to add quite a bit to ours.
First step is simply chopping up your veggies (and fruit if you’re adding some sweetness). Chop them up to the size you prefer. I choose to chop by hand, but you can use a food chopper or even a food processor. If you choose the food processor, make sure you don’t process it so much that it’s more of a soup. Well, I guess you could do that if you prefer, but I like the experience of having those chunks of veggies in every bite.
Make it your way!
When the veggies are chopped to your preference, add them to a bowl. Any bowl big enough works, chef’s choice.
Adding the Salt
Now for the most important ingredient, salt. It’s very important that you do not use iodized salt, so skip the table salt (preferably for everything but definitely for this). The iodine in the salt will interfere with the fermentation process so it needs to be avoided completely. Any other good quality salt will work. My preference is Redmond Real Salt.
How much salt do you use? For salsa use about 1 teaspoon per pint. You might not know exactly how many veggies equal a pint, so when you chop everything up take your best guess. Having slightly less is okay, as is a little more. And if you don’t quite put enough in, you can always a little more and mix it in later.
Put Your Salsa in Jars or Other Fermenting Vessel
For this batch I’m fermenting in quarts. When you pick your jars (or other vessel if you choose to ferment in something other than a mason jar) be sure that you have wide mouth openings. Having the larger opening makes it easier to get the contents into the jar and to pack it in. Using a canning funnel also makes this process a lot less messy.
Add Weight to Keep Everything Below the Water Level
Your jars are packed with delicious salsa, now what? Next you’ll add some kind of weight to keep the veggies under the liquid level. I’m using fermentation weights, but you don’t have to have those. You could easily use part of an onion peel, or a cabbage leaf if you have one. Even putting a smaller half pint jar inside quart jar to press everything down would work. You wouldn’t be able to fill the jar as full if you do that, but that doesn’t matter as long as it keeps what you do have in there below the liquid level.
Note: if your salsa is more soupy than using an onion peel or something similar will work better to keep everything under the level of the liquid. A weight might just sink to the bottom
Why do the veggies have to stay below the level of the liquid? To avoid mold. You can also have something called kahm yeast develop. Unlike mold, kahm yeast is actually harmless but doesn’t taste the best. If you see a bit of white film on the top, that’s kahm yeast, just scrape it off forget it was there. Your food is still very tasty and edible.
The last step, once your choice of weight is in, is to add a lid. There are different types of fermentation lids you can use. I don’t actually have any yet, so I just put a used canning lid on top. It’s a perfect use for your used lids so they don’t end up in the trash.
Not that you can’t use new lids. If that’s what you have plop that lid on top of that jar and screw the ring on.
Once the lid is on, we’re done! Your salsa is on it’s way to becoming fermented deliciousness.
Ferment for 2-3 Days
Place the jar in a place out of direct sunlight for 2-3 days. I usually ferment my salsa for 3 days. If you are using a fermenting lid, you don’t have to check on it again until the fermentation time is up. If you’re using a canning lid, or other screw on type lid, you’ll need to “burp” the jar every day. This just means unscrewing the lid, letting the gases that have built up inside escape, and then tightening the lid again. I usually do this in the morning and it’s good until the next morning.
Three days are up and it’s time to take off the weight and put the salsa in the fridge (or eat some right away, that’s always a good option too). Placing any ferment in a cold place like a fridge slows the fermenting process. If you continue to let it go, the food you are fermenting tend to get very tangy and are basically inedible.
Here’s the hardest part of the whole process….try not to eat too much at once, especially if you aren’t used to eating fermented foods. Your gut will thank you for giving it in batches of a tablespoon or two at a time.
Find Other Recipes Here:
Enjoy! Share below what you like to put in your salsa. Let’s see how many different combinations we can come up with to share!
- tomatoes of any kind
- peppers, mild or hot
- lime juice
- non-iodized salt
- Also needed is a vessel to place the vegetables in to ferment and a lid for that vessel.
- Chop vegetables to the size you prefer.
- Add 1 tsp of salt per pint of chopped vegetables and mix well.
- Put the vegetable and salt mix into a jar or vessel of choice.
- Place weight (or whatever you're using instead of a weight) on top and press down to release air and push the vegetables under the level of the liquid.
- Place lid on the jar or vessel and place out of direct sunlight for 2-3 days.
- If using a tightened lid, burp the jar once a day to release gases created during the fermenting process.