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2 DELICIOUS WAYS TO LACTO-FERMENT TOMATOES

Cherry Bombs and Green Tomato "Olives"

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by Jody Gowans in Lacto-fermentation, Recipes
September 10, 2017

Confession: I am a Tomato-Addict

It’s no secret that I’m crazy about tomatoes- not the fake, “hothouse” variety, but local, luscious, in-season beauties that can hold their own with just a pinch of salt.  In Eastern Canada, we are nearly at the end of tomato season.  I have done my best to enjoy the local bounty that I wait all year for before the tomato harvest runs out.  Fortunately, this year we had a bumper crop of hearty varieties and an innumerable amount of cherry tomatoes.  My own plants did exceptionally well, to the point where we can’t keep up eating these sweet gems.

An assortment of cherry tomatoes from my garden

 Not to worry, there are many ways to use them up, starting with ferments (of course!).  My 2 super easy and favourite tomato lacto-ferments are Cherry Bombs a la Shockey and Green Tomato “Olives”.

“CHERRY BOMBS À LA SHOCKEY” 

I first discovered the Cherry Bomb recipe in one of my favourite fermentation books, Fermented Vegetables, by Kirsten K Shockey & Christopher Shockey.  (If you don’t already own this book, you need it in your collection- you won’t be disappointed!).  It is an easy and quick ferment (approximately 1 week), and produces mini bombs that erupt deliciously in your mouth! I adjusted the choice of spices to my liking, feel free to substitute as well.  The only consideration is to use firm, slightly underripe tomatoes as ripe tomatoes contain a high sugar content that might take your ferment from a pickle to a cocktail!

 

How To Make Cherry Bombs À La Shockey

(adapted from Fermented Vegetables, Kirsten K.Shockey & Christopher Shockey)      Fermentation Time: (6-8 days)

INGREDIENTS

  • Cherry Tomatoes- (firm, underripe), washed and stems removed
  • Peeled Garlic Cloves
  • Fresh Basil
  • Mustard Seeds
  • Pinch Chili Flakes
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 2% Brine (1 litre of water + 20 grams* non-iodized salt)
  • Fermentation Container
  • Fermentation Weight

* it is best to weigh the salt, but as a guideline, 1 tsp is approximately 5 grams of regular grain sea salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place half of herbs and garlic on bottom of jar

    Herbs and spices for “Cherry Bombs a la Shockey”

  2. Add cherry tomatoes, and rest of herbs and garlic.
  3. Top with remaining cherry tomatoes, leaving a 1″ space to the top of the jar.
  4. Add brine, leaving a ½” space to the top of the jar.  
  5. Add fermentation weight and close jar.
  6. Leave to ferment, out of direct sunlight at room temperature (18-25°C/64-78°F) for one week.
  7. Transfer to the refrigerator for storage.

    Cherry Bombs a la Shockey Day 1

 

LACTO-FERMENTED GREEN TOMATO “OLIVES”

My other favourite tomato ferment is a fantastic way to use up green tomatoes at the end of the season.  I stumbled upon it last year when I had to prematurely harvest my tomatoes after a squirrel invasion.  I was left with a massive batch of green tomatoes, which, by the way, are bitter and best served battered and fried.  I decided to fry some for dinner (DELICIOUS!) and ferment the rest with what I had on hand (garlic, salt and bay leaf).

 Best decision, ever! I left them to ferment for a month, since they were very underripe.  These underestimated green tomatoes transformed into delicious “olives”.  They had lost any semblance of their original tomato taste and taken on an entire new umami, olive-like flavour.

Lacto-fermented green tomato “olives” from last summer

 Lacto-fermented green tomatoes are amazing in salsas and salads.  I still have a small jar left over from last summer, and they are still as firm and even more delicious as when I first fermented them.

Lacto-fermented green tomato “olives”

HOW TO MAKE LACTO-FERMENTED GREEN TOMATO “OLIVES”

Fermentation Time: 1 month

INGREDIENTS

  • Green Tomatoes (cherry or small/medium size) washed and stems removed
  • 2-3 Bay Leaves
  • 2-3 cloves peeled garlic
  • pinch of chilli flakes and/or other herbs and spices 
  • Brine (4 cups water + 4 tsp non-iodized salt)
  • Fermentation Container
  • Fermentation Weight

DIRECTIONS

  1. Alternate tomatoes with garlic and bay leaves in container

    Lacto-fermented green tomatoes before fermentation weight

  2. Fill with brine, leaving 1″ from the top of the container.
  3. Add fermentation weight, close container.
  4. Leave to ferment at room temperature(18-25°C/64-78°F) for one month.
  5. Transfer to the refrigerator for storage.
19 Comments
  1. Toby says:

    Hello, Jody.
    Will this work if I half the tomatoes or will I end up with mush?
    I have lots of green tomatoes but some are huge.
    Thanks,

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Toby- no, keep the tomatoes whole as they are likely to go mushy. Once they are fermented, they should remain firm. Try to find a larger container, if possible.

  2. Carolyn says:

    Can I lactoferment in clean food safe large plastic jars (that nuts came in)

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Carolyn- you could use plastic jars if you don’t have any other containers. Many do not use them out of fear of leaching chemicals from the plastic into the ferment. I advise using glass jars- they are easier to completely clean- you can always use recycled jars from pickles, etc.

  3. Joy says:

    Can you pls tell,e the water to sea salt ratio for the best brine?

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Joy- a 2% brine is sufficient for a tomato ferment: 1 litre of water + 20 grams sea salt

  4. Paramjeet singh says:

    Hi
    Can we use vinegar instead of water

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Paramjeet- you could use vinegar, but then you would be pickling the tomatoes, not fermenting them. The vinegar would kill off the beneficial microbes responsible for the fermentation process. The result would be a vinegary tasting tomato, which can also be very tasty, as opposed to the unique, fermented flavours obtained from the fermentation process. Maybe do an experiment, and try both to see which flavours you enjoy more.

  5. Alechenu says:

    How long can it last after fermenting??

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Thanks for your interest and question. The tomatoes will last indefinitely in the fridge. Just make sure you keep jar tightly lidded to keep oxygen out and use a clean utensil to avoid contaminating the contents. I have a jar of tomatoes in my fridge from last summer that are still good!

  6. Carol says:

    I prepared a couple jars following the green tomato olives recipe. After a few weeks the liquid inside has turned cloudy and liquid has seeped out of lid.. Is this supposed to happen?

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Carol- thanks for your interest and question. The cloudiness in the liquid is normal- it is a byproduct of the fermentation. This residue will gradual settle at the bottom of the jar. As for the liquid seeping out of the container, it is likely that you did not leave enough headspace to the top of the container, and the built up carbon dioxide is forcing the liquid out. Did you use an airlock, or are you manually burping the container? If you used a fido jar, it is advisable that you place a plate under the jar to catch any expressed liquid.

  7. Ameher says:

    Can I use table salt to make the brine??

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Ameher- Thanks for your interest and question! I would advise against using table salt to make the brine. Conventional table salt is iodized and generally contains anti-caking agents to give it a free-running quality. These additives can inhibit the growth of the beneficial microbes and adversely affect the quality of your ferment. Sea salt is a good choice- it is not too pricey and is also rich in minerals. If you do choose sea salt, you might want to avoid the gray sea salt purely for esthetics as it can leave a harmless, murky residue in the ferment.

  8. Melissa Lim says:

    Hi! What is a fermentation weight? I have lots of green tomatoes and want to try this!!

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Melissa- A fermentation weight is something to keep the food you are fermenting below the brine. You can use any object that is food grade and fits in your fermentation container. For example, you can use a glass disk, smaller jar, ziplock bag filled with water, etc. Please see this article for more information https://theculturedfoodie.com/keeping-ferments-below-the-brine/

      1. Melissa Lim says:

        thanks!

  9. Stephanie Zonca says:

    Hello Jody,

    Thank you for posting your recipe about green tomatoes. – I have a couple of questions: 1. When you say brine (water + salt), is the water from the tap or boiled? 2. I am always confused about the fermentation weight…what is it exactly?

    Many thanks.
    Stephanie

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Stephanie- Thanks for your questions! I have had success with using tap water when I’ve been in a rush. However, for optimal brines, I boil the water for 5-10 minutes to get rid of the chlorine in our city water (and let it cool to room temperature before adding it to the vegetables). Another method is to leave the pot of water overnight and the chlorine will gradually dissipate.

      A fermentation weight is anything that will hold the fermented food below the brine (where it will be protected from pathogens). there are many options for weights, such as commercial weights designed to fit in wide-mouth jars, to food-grade (Ziplock) bags filled with water. You can use anything as long as it is sanitary. For more info, you can read this post
      https://theculturedfoodie.com/keeping-ferments-below-the-brine/

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