Fermented Tomatoes are traditional in Russia. They are generally served as a condiment or side dish.
Fermenting is a preserving method that has been used for thousands of years. And for good reason. It has numerous health benefits. They do a job that is mighty important due to their digestion-enhancing enzymes. They aid the intestinal tract’s healthy flora balance and increase the beneficial bacteria.
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Our GI tract (gut) is responsible for more than just digesting our food. It is hard to be really healthy if we have a sick gut. The father of medicine (Hippocrates) once made the quote – “death sits in the bowels.” and it’s believed he was referring to an unhealthy gut.
With more awareness of the downfall of our modern diet – people are rediscovering this wonderful and natural process of lactic acid fermentation. This process improves the nutritional content and results in a tasty, crunchy and sometimes tangy food source. Sauerkraut is probably most noted when talking about fermenting. Kimchi is another popular variation. However, most any vegetable will ferment when submerged in liquid, generally with salt or some other starter culture.
Almost any vegetable will ferment when submerged in liquid, often with salt or another starter culture added. I have tried a variety of things, sometimes because I did not want veggies to spoil and we were not using them up fast enough.
Recently our garden is kicking out the tomatoes at a high rate of speed as we descend into fall. To many for us to keep up with. I generally freeze a lot of them but this year I decided to try my hand at fermenting some. Can I just say YUM.
Fermented Tomatoes are traditional in Russia. They are generally served as a condiment or side dish. The brine, which is called rassol, is said to be a popular cure for a hangover but it’s also used to make a soup called Rassolnik.
There are a lot of varieties of additional ingredients added to fermenting tomatoes. I kind of made up my own with what I had available and I am very happy with the outcome. Hubby even said YUM and he is not big on fermented foods.
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For any vegetable(s) or fruit you plan to ferment, you want them to be ripe and in season. Organic when possible. And don’t be shy about mixing them. Peppers go well in a mix where you want to add some heat. Pickled green beans, beets, and other summer time veggies can be a real treat in December.
We need to add salt as it’s the ingredient that does a number of things. It slows the fermentation process down to allow the flavor to fully develop. It also helps preserve the vitamin content and gives the vegetables that crispy -crunchiness. NOTE: I highly recommend Himalayan sea salt rather than processed white table salt.
The amount of salt is up to you. I have read 3 tablespoons per 5 pounds. Personally — I use around 1 tablespoons per large mason jar. Just remember, the more salt, the longer the fermentation process. There is always the alternative of using a “starter culture.”
Fermenting tomatoes was sure a lot easier than doing sauerkraut or some of the other veggies. No shredding or chopping. Our tomatoes were just the right size to plop several right in the jar. With the larger ones you would have to cut them up a bit.
Deciding what container to use depends on how much your going to make. Most important is choosing one that won’t leach chemicals into the food. I would avoid plastic and metal. Simple and inexpensive mason jars work well and we can make it even easier by using fermenting caps.
Once the tomatoes are in the jars we need to weigh it down the same as we do with any ferments. We don’t want them rising above the liquid. You can devise your own system or purchase weights that are just for this purpose.
Put the lid on and your job is done. Now the fermenting job begins. We generally let it sit at room temperature for a few days. There really is no magic moment when it is ready. When its to your liking it’s done. I generally taste test around 4 or 5 days. Most ferments I usually let it sit a total of 7 before storing but tomatoes seem to ferment a little faster. Then you want to move it to a cooler spot to keep it longer. A cool basement or just put it in the fridge.
If you have never fermented anything I hope I have encouraged you to give it a try. Ok, now I am headed to the kitchen to have some. (smile)
Linda Carlson – Author
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