Fermented Tomatoes Recipe

Fermented cherry tomatoes

Our garden is overrun with tiny cherry tomatoes. We’re not keeping up with them. As delicious as they are to pop into my mouth raw, I wanted to preserve some of them for winter. Making fermented tomatoes —  a bite-size pickle flavored with basil flowers and other spices — turned out to be the perfect solution.

Lacto-fermentation doesn’t need fancy equipment. All you really need are some vegetables, salt, and water…but adding a few herbs and spices is a good idea. Amounts given are for one pint, but you can multiply that to suit how many tomatoes you’ve got.

In Russia fermented tomatoes are often served as a condiment or side dish with meat, but they are also delicious added to tabbouleh or other grain-based salads.

Pickled (Fermented) Cherry Tomatoes

2 teaspoons non-iodized salt (sea salt or kosher salt are good)

1 cup non-chlorinated or filtered water (this is important: chlorine could prevent a successful fermentation)

1 pint ripe cherry tomatoes (note that really small ones like Tiny Tim or Sungold work best in this recipe)

Several sprigs fresh dill

2 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed

1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

3/4 teaspoon whole wild mustard seeds (okay, okay — you can use storebought if you have to)

1 grape leaf (optional – for this recipe you could use a piece of a cabbage or kale or other edible leaf)

  1. Mix the salt and water together until the salt dissolves. Set aside.
  2. Fill a clean glass jar with the tomatoes, adding the herbs and spices as you go.
  3. Pour the salt brine over the other ingredients.
  4. Tuck the grape or cabbage leaf on top so that it holds the tomatoes under the brine. In pickles where crunchiness is desirable, the grape leaf would be the leaf of choice because the tannins in it would help keep ingredients like cucumbers crunchy. That’s not really an issue with this tomato ferment, so the main purpose of the leaf is to keep the ingredients immersed in the brine.
  5. Loosely cover, set on a plate, and leave at room temperature for 2 to 4 days. Check every day for signs of fermentation—there will be some frothy bubbles on top. You’re also checking for a clean, sour, sauerkraut-like smell.
  6. Refrigerate and leave for at least another week before eating. The flavor of the pickled tomatoes will continue to develop sharpness and pungency the longer you wait before eating them. Best eaten within 3 months, but will keep in the fridge indefinitely.

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