These fermented cherry tomatoes can be an easy way to preserve and pack tomatoes with probiotics that burst in your mouth with refreshing flavors.
Since I began my journey with fermentation, I have been impressed by how easy it is to convert everyday ingredients into delectable and healthful foods. It is captivating to watch how microbes perform their magic on vegetables, fruits, dairy, or grains. This natural way of preserving food has its character and advantages, whether fermenting bananas and cauliflower, crafting garlic honey fermentation, or delving into yogurt, wine, or cider production.
This time, we will experiment with tomatoes while they are in season. We have plenty and can hardly eat them on time. Tomato soup, pasta, and tomato confit have been our go-to dishes, but now it’s time to explore new recipes and savor the full bounty of these ripe, juicy tomatoes.
Why is Lacto-Fermentation the best way to preserve tomatoes
If you are still unconvinced and feel it is not worth it to dig into fermentation, check all the advantages you can get for a fraction of the price.
By utilizing lactobacillus bacteria present on the surface of fruits and vegetables, Lacto-fermentation converts sugars into lactic acid, and the result is lacto-fermented tomatoes with a burst of umami, complemented by the aromatic notes of fresh basil. This treat you can enjoy long after the cherry tomato season ends.
What Are The Benefits Of Fermented Tomatoes?
Fermentation intensifies the flavor of tomatoes and reduces their acidity, making them milder and easier to digest for some individuals. It is mainly beneficial for people who have difficulties digesting lectins and phytic acid.
Fermentation infuses tomatoes with good bacteria – probiotics that improve digestion and immunity. It is also a great way to preserve tomatoes and extend their shelf life. This allows you to enjoy the fruits of the tomato season long after it has ended, thus reducing their waste.
Ingredients to ferment cherry tomatoes
You can use all types of tomatoes, from cherry, grape, and heirloom tomatoes, to create a colorful and diverse batch. You may need to half or quarter larger tomatoes before fermenting.
Whole cherry tomatoes retain their firmness and can offer a burst of flavor when bitten into. Moreover, they look great on a charcuterie board, salad or garnish.
Larger tomatoes need to be quarter or halved but provide a larger surface area for fermentation, thus leading to a more intense tomato flavor. They are great for turning into sauces or salsa fresca.
Underripe or ripe tomatoes?
You can use both; each will develop different flavors, textures, and benefits.
Fermenting green tomatoes with lower sugar content will prevent the production of alcohol. Green tomatoes are the best choice if you’re aiming for tangy or slightly sour fermented tomatoes. Moreover, underripe whole tomatoes are firmer and maintain their texture.
Fully ripe tomatoes contain sugar that tends to convert into alcohol and result in more fizzy tomatoes with a unique and unexpected twist in flavor.
I used basil in this recipe, as it adds a nice aromatic touch, and I plan to turn them into a pizza sauce that needs basil anyway. However, you can experiment with other herbs and spices for additional flavor. For instance, oregano for a Mediterranean twist, cilantro for a fresh and vibrant note, or thyme for a more earthy and savory profile.
You can also use coriander seeds or mustard seeds for additional flavors.
The amount of salt matters and can significantly impact the fermentation process and the final flavor of the fermented tomatoes. The salt used inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria, molds, and yeasts, allowing beneficial lactic acid bacteria (LAB) to thrive during fermentation. This preservation aspect is crucial for preventing spoilage.It also maintains the texture of the tomatoes and helps prevent them from becoming overly mushy. On the contrary, the less salt you use, the better the taste of tomatoes. so finding the right balance is essential.
The ideal salt concentration for fermenting tomatoes typically ranges from 2-3% salt for 1 l of brine
Thus, 20-30 g for 1 l of brine.
How To Make Lacto Fermented Tomatoes recipe with basil
First step: Prepare the Tomatoes.
Wash and dry the tomatoes thoroughly. If you use fully ripe tomatoes, leave them whole or halve them for faster fermentation. For underripe tomatoes, consider quartering them to increase their surface area.
Second step: Pack the Container.
Place a layer of fresh basil leaves at the bottom of your fermentation vessel. If you are using seeds, you can also put them there. Add tomatoes into a jar, pressing them down gently to remove any air gaps. Continue layering until you’ve filled the container, leaving about an inch of headspace at the top of the jar.
Third step: Make the Brine.
Mix about 2 tablespoons of salt per quart (liter) of non-chlorinated water in a separate container to create a brine solution. Make sure the salt is dissolved completely.
Fourth step: Cover with Salt Brine.
Pour the water and salt mixture over the top to keep the tomatoes submerged. Leave at least an inch of headspace to prevent spillage during fermentation.
Fifth step: Weight and Airlock.
Place a weight on top to submerge top of the tomatoes under the brine. You can use a wide-mouth freezer lid or fermenting stone if you don’t have a fermentation weight. Seal the fermentation vessel with an airlock if you have one. If not, use a loosely fitted lid to allow gases to escape during fermentation.
Sixth step: Ferment.
Place the jar or container used on a plate or baking sheet and leave it for about a week at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. Check the tomatoes regularly; After a few days, the water will become cloudy, and some bubbles will be on the top). If you are not using an airlock, remember to open the lid once daily and let the gas out. The fermentation process will take 3-7 days, depending on temperature and tomato ripeness.
Seventh step: Taste and Transfer.
Taste the tomatoes, and If you like the taste (a tangy and slightly fizzy taste should develop), the tomatoes are ready to eat. Remove the weight and airlock, and transfer them into the glass jar in the fridge. There is no need to remove tomatoes from the brine; just store them in the fridge to slow fermentation.
How to eat fermented tomatoes with probiotics?
- Simply grab a few fermented cherry tomatoes or slices of larger tomatoes and enjoy them as a probiotic-rich snack. Their tangy and savory flavor makes them a delightful alternative to traditional snacks.
- Add fermented tomatoes to your salads; they pair well with leafy greens, cucumbers, red onions, and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Include fermented tomato slices in your sandwiches, wraps, or burgers.
- Chop them into a probiotic-rich salsa. Combine them with onions, cilantro, lime juice, and chili peppers for a flavorful condiment to serve with chips, tacos, or grilled dishes.
- Top toasted baguette slices with fermented tomato chunks, garlic, and a drizzle of olive oil for a delicious bruschetta appetizer.
- Use them as toppings to add a unique, tangy flavor to your Air Fryer Flatbread Pizza.
- Include them on an antipasto platter alongside olives, cured meats, cheeses, and pickled vegetables for a flavorful and probiotic-rich appetizer.
- Use small tomatoes as a garnish for dishes like pasta, grilled meats, or roasted vegetables to infuse them with a tomato burst.
- Blend them with fermented garlic into Homemade Spaghetti Sauce, marinara sauce, salad dressings, or marinades.
- Turn them into this Homemade Tomato Soup.
- Finely chop fermented tomatoes and combine them with other ingredients like onions, peppers, and herbs to create a probiotic-rich relish to serve with grilled or roasted dishes.
Add minced garlic cloves to the layers of tomatoes and basil for a flavorful garlic twist in your fermented tomatoes.
Include chili peppers or red pepper flakes between the layers of tomatoes and basil for a spicy kick.
Experiment with different herbs like thyme, rosemary, or dill. Place herb sprigs or leaves between the layers to infuse unique herbal flavors.
After fermentation, remove the tomatoes from the brine and place them on a dehydrator tray or in the sun to create your own sun-dried fermented tomatoes.
More Fermented Food Ideas
How to make Fermented tomato sauce recipe
To convert fermented tomatoes into a sauce, simply blend them in a food processor or blender until you reach your desired consistency. You can add a bit of the brine from the fermentation to achieve the desired thickness and flavor. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed, then heat the sauce gently in a saucepan to serve as a delicious and probiotic-rich tomato sauce for pasta, pizza, or other dishes.
How to store lacto-fermented tomatoes?
Fermented vegetables like tomatoes typically thrive when stored in glass jars at around 40°F, making the top shelf of your refrigerator or the refrigerator door ideal storage spots. If maintaining a temperature of approximately 40°F, you can also keep tomatoes in a cellar or root cellar.
What do fermented tomatoes taste like?
Fermented tomatoes have a distinctive taste, combining the natural sweetness of tomatoes with a tangy and slightly sour flavor resulting from the fermentation process. This unique profile offers a balance of sweet and tangy notes, making them a flavorful and versatile addition to various dishes.
How long does the fermentation of tomatoes last?
The duration of tomato fermentation can vary and depends on the size and ripeness of the tomatoes, the temperature, and the amount of salt used in the process. However, a typical time ranges from about 3 days to 1 week. Here are some factors to consider.
I had the white film developed on top. Any thoughts on what went wrong?
Mold is something that can happen even if the tomatoes are fully submerged. The white film is called kahm yeast and is harmless, so throw away from the top of your ferment and resume fermentation.