Fermenting vegetables has become a fun way to preserve and enjoy the bounty from our garden. I think I’ve convinced myself that just about anything can be fermented. Maybe that’s not exactly true, but I’m willing to give it shot.
Why fermenting? Think gut health. As vegetables go through the fermenting process, beneficial bacteria called lactobaccillus begin to form. This is a bacteria that is naturally found in the digestive system. When we “feed” our gut with fermented foods, it helps to not only promote healthy digestion but also brain health and mood enhancement.
Bottom line: a healthy gut is the beginning to restoring the rest of the body.
Fermenting veggies is also a great way to extend our harvest. I don’t know about you, but it’s usually when we’re deep into a long winter that I’m craving garden vegetables the most!
How to ferment cherry tomatoes
When harvesting cherry tomatoes for fermenting, it’s best to use tomatoes that are just barely ripe. Not green, but colorful and firm so they don’t split as easy. Simply rinse and let dry.
For this recipe, I added fresh jalapeno and basil. But you can choose to ferment the tomatoes alone, or add another veggie like sweet peppers, garlic or onion. I think fresh dill would also be an excellent additional herb to use, although I didn’t have any on hand. Experiment with different combinations to see how it affects the flavor and make it fun!
- 1/2 gallon jar or two quart jars
- Fresh picked cherry tomatoes
- 2 jalapeno peppers, sliced in half and seeded
- Fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 tsp mustard seed
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/2 tsp dried chives
- 4 cups distilled water
- 3 T sea salt
- 1 fermenting weight
Add mustard seed, cloves & chives to the bottom of a clean, sterilized jar. Add cherry tomatoes, layering in jalapeno slices and basil leaves. Leave about two inches at the top of the jar.
Mix room temperature distilled water and salt together until the salt dissolves. Then pour over the cherry tomatoes until they are completely submerged.
Add a fermenting weight to keep everything underneath the brine during fermenting. This is key!
We use a vented fermenting lid from Soligt, which allows us to pull air out of the jar. The lid fits perfectly into a canning ring. If you don’t have a vented lid, you can still ferment using a cheese cloth and a rubber band over the top of the jar. Just make sure everything stays submerged under the brine or you will have mold form and spoil the ferment.
Place your jar in a cool, dry and dark place. After one day you should see small bubbles rising to the top. This means the fermentation process has begun. Place a small plate under the jar to catch any seepage.
After 8 days your tomatoes should be ready to try! Plop one in your mouth and you’ll discover a sweet, flavorful effervescent taste similar to champagne. The tomatoes will be soft and almost dissolve in your mouth, and leave you wanting another one.
Once opened, you can store fermented tomatoes in the fridge for several months. Use as needed.
So what do you do with fermented tomatoes anyway?
Great question! Use them in salads or with any pasta dish. If you ferment a large batch, use them to transform traditional tomato sauce. Or you can simply eat them as a delicious snack. I promise, once you start it’s hard to stop at just one.