Some time ago I found myself in search of a way to preserve the taste of a fresh garden tomato throughout the winter months. We had always used the traditional methods of preserving tomatoes including freezing, canning and dehydrating and they were good...but lacked that fresh tomato taste. Our fermented tomatoes are as close as you can get to that fresh-picked flavor!
Sue's Fermented Salt and Pepper Tomatoes
Clean and core tomatoes. Cut tomatoes into 1-1/2 to 2 inch chunks and place them into a (quart-sized) small mouth jar until jar is half filled. Add 2 teaspoons of sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper into jar and gently stir tomatoes. Continue to add tomato chunks into jar and stir until jar is three-fourths filled. (Allow a few minutes after each addition of tomatoes. This will give the tomatoes time to macerate and self-brine).
Place lid on jar and allow tomatoes to ferment for 2 to 3 days while stirring mixture twice daily.
Jar can be stored in refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks.
There is something special about opening a jar of these fresh tasting tomatoes in the middle of a Nebraska snowstorm, so we developed this method to safely store these tomatoes in the refrigerator for months!
After tomatoes have fermented, place kale leaves over mixture gently pushing tomato chunks below juice/brine. Cut two celery stalks and criss-cross them over the kale leaves. Lodge the celery sticks under the shoulders of the jar to hold everything beneath the brine. Add additional brine or juice to jar to ensure that all food (including celery stalks) is submerged.
Place jar in refrigerator for a period of 24 hours. Check brine level once again before placing it into long-term refrigerated storage.
This is a favorite ferment among those who have attended our 'Lacto-Fermenting 101' classes!
Paste-type tomatoes are not good candidates for this ferment as they create a very small amount of juice. We prefer the taste of our favorite heirlooms.