Recently I’ve been trying my hand at making my own fermented foods, which are something of a trend right now with the growing interest in gut health.
Fermentation takes place when harmless (but helpful!) bacteria consume the natural sugars in foods (like vegetables, fruit and milk), converting them to organic acids and carbon dioxide.
This process gives the food a slightly sour, tangy taste but also prevents harmful bacteria from growing, making fermentation the ideal way to prevent food from spoiling, as well as giving an entirely different flavour and texture.
In the past I’d eaten plenty of fermented foods, but it wasn’t until I took part in a sauerkrautathon last year (yep, a team effort to make the biggest dish of sauerkraut ever recorded) that I realised how simple it was to ferment your own veggies, and how much cheaper it is than buying them from the supermarket (or an organic shop, with a £6 price tag!)
I’m also really curious about this traditional process of preserving food… and the potential benefits for gut health.
So far my exploits have included water kefir, jun (a type of fermented tea), and a tasty fennel and cabbage sauerkraut, but my absolute favourite so far has been a fermented tomato salsa that I learned at a workshop with Wondergut (aka Jo), and I now feel am compelled to share it with you.
This salsa is truly DELICIOUS and so easy to make that you’ll be done and dusted within about 20 minutes (depending on your chopping skills, many hands make light work). All you need to do then is wait for the magic to happen. It’s a brilliant starter ferment, and a real crowd pleaser. You won’t be disappointed…
I should add that credits for this recipe go to the talented Dearbhla Reynolds of The Cultured Club. Thank you Dearbhla.
Makes a 1 litre jar
8-10 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 red or green peppers, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
aJuice of 1 lime
Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
2 tsp fine sea salt (add more if needed)
Half tsp cumin seeds
Half tsp freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of smoked paprika or some fresh red chilli if you fancy more heat
Get yourself a clean jar. Something like this is ideal.Prepare your veggies and herbs. Cut them into small dice, and tip them all the into a bowl including the juice that leaches out, together with the lime and herbs.Mix together all your ingredients with the salt, and leave it for around half an hour – this will bring out some of the liquid from the veggies.After half an hour, pack into your clean one-litre jar including the liquid, making sure you leave 2.5cm of headspace at the top of the jar. Try to ensure your veggies are submerged in the juice that will come out during the chopping and mixing.Close the lid and allow to ferment for at least three days at room temperature. Salsas have always been one of the more lively ferments and it makes a lot of noise.As the carbon dioxide escapes it brings some of that lovely juice with it, so place the jar on a dish to collect the juice and open it with careAfter 3-4 days you can taste the salsa – it should be gently fizzing and tangy. Once it’s ready, transfer to the fridge. It will keep for at least six months once opened (well it does, but I bet you it’ll be gone within a week or two!)