Live fermented salsa recipe


When I first heard of live fermented salsa all I could think was: gross.

I mean really. Salsa crossed with sauerkraut just didn't sound like a good idea. Ew. But the idea got stuck in my head and I kept circling back. The more I mulled it over them more I wondered… maybe.

Finally a few friends told me it was the best thing ever, so I had to give it a go.

Maybe it wouldn't be so bad. The sour of the lacto-fermentation could play well with the natural acidity of the tomatoes and lime and the heat of the peppers. Hmm…it might not be so weird after all.

So we went for it. Just before I left for Maine a couple of years ago Pete made a few quarts. By the time I got home four weeks later there was approximately a tablespoon left, waiting for me at the bottom of an otherwise empty mason jar.

I think he liked it.

One taste and I, too, was hooked. So every year we make a gallon (give or take). It never lasts us long, but at least now I'm sure to get more than a spoonful!

The benefits of probiotic salsa are many. Here are my top 3:

  1. Easy! Ridiculously easy. Just chop, salt, and jar it up. Boom.
  2. Probiotic. It's gut-healthy, probiotic nourishment. Which – I would attest – everyone needs more of in their lives.
  3. Summer-friendly. No need to heat up your kitchen making salsa during steamy tomato season.

Care to make some yourself with the last of the tomatoes? Here's how. (This recipe was my jumping-off point.)

Please note: ingredients and proportions are flexible! Tweak to suit your preferences, but be sure to include all of the salt as that ensures proper fermentation, approximately 1 1/2 tsp per quart.


Makes 1/2 gallon (2 quarts)

6-8 large tomatoes

1 large red onion

1 bunch cilantro

3 cloves garlic

Juice of 1 fresh lime

2 medium hot peppers or to taste

1 tbsp salt



  1. Chop tomatoes into smallish cubes (the size you'd enjoy balancing on a corn chip or fork-full of taco salad). Transfer these tomato chunks to a mesh strainer and allow the liquid to drain out into a bowl for three or four minutes. (This keeps your salsa from being too soupy.)
  2. Meanwhile, finely chop red onion and cilantro and mince garlic.
  3. Stem the hot peppers and seed if desired (for a milder heat), then finely chop with sharp knife or food processor. (Gloves are a good idea for this step to protect your fingers from the lingering burn of the peppers, and if using a food processor hold your breath when opening to prevent from don't breathing the vapors.)
  4. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and stir to combine.
  5. Transfer to 2 quart-sized jars or a single 1/2 gallon, filling to just past the shoulders. Press all vegetables beneath liquid, then lid with a fermentation top or a non-metallic canning jar lid. 
  6. Place jars on a plate or baking tray (they sometimes overflow during fermentation) and allow to sit at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, tasting throughout the process. You'll notice some separation, with solids floating a bit above a mostly clear liquid. This is normal! After fermentation and when you're pleased with the flavor, transfer jars to refrigerator, and enjoy with every meal. 


A small bonus: a few of you have asked about the lids I use. I was sent a free sample of tops and glass fermentation weights by MasonTops a couple of years back and I really love them. They have generously offered you all a 10% discount code (through the end of October) if you'd like to get some for yourself! Just use code "LUSA10". (Technically I think that qualifies as an afflink since they sent me my lids.) :-) 


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