Fermented salsa verde, made with tomatillos, garlic, cilantro and plenty of jalapeños, has a vibrant, bright flavor marked by notes of citrus and the lightest touch of sea salt. It takes less than 5 minutes of active time in the kitchen, and just a few days to culture on your countertop.
What is fermented salsa?
Fermented salsa is salsa that has been allowed to culture for several days to a few weeks. This process imparts a deep, complex flavor with acidic undertones. And, like sauerkraut, sour pickles and many other fermented foods and drinks, it tends to be a good source of probiotics.
Ingredients typically include tomatoes or tomatillos, as well as onion, garlic, chili peppers, cilantro, citrus juice, salt and spices. Sometimes, cooks will also add a starter culture, like whey, to speed up fermentation, but you can make it without whey, too.
Should you add whey to fermented salsa?
Many fermented salsa recipes call for whey or for another starter culture. The popular cookbook Nourishing Traditions recommends using whey in all fermented vegetable recipes, but it’s largely an unnecessary addition.
If you want to speed up the fermentation process or if you’re concerned about salt intake, adding whey or another starter to your salsa recipe can be helpful. But, for most of us, it’s unnecessary. And your salsa will come out just fine without it. Further, salsas fermented without whey often have more complex flavor and better texture, too.
It’s really easy to make fermented salsa. You start by blitzing tomatillos, garlic, white onion, jalapeños and coriander in a food processor. After that, you’ll seal it in a jar and let it culture at room temperature for a few days and up to a week.
And while it’s easy to make, there’s a few tips to keep in mind to make sure your salsa ferments safely, and comes out just the way you like it.
- Use a fermentation lock. A tight seal that prevents oxygen from getting in while allowing the carbon dioxide that builds up during fermentation will help prevent mold and spoilage.
- Watch for bubbles. Tiny bubbles should appear at the surface of your salsa while it ferments, and they should be visible through your jar. It’s a good sign that the beneficial bacteria are doing their work.
- Watch for color changes. As the salsa ferments, it will become more acidic, and this may cause it to change color from a vivid green to a dull green.
- Salt helps keep your ferment safe. Adding salt to the salsa helps keep mold and other microbes that can cause spoilage at bay while beneficial bacteria take root. If you want to minimize salt, consider adding a starter culture instead.
- Separation is normal. Fermentation may cause your ingredients to separate as they culture. Don’t worry! It’s normal. Just swirl it with a spoon to reincorporate the ingredients.
Fermented Salsa Verde Recipe
- 12 oz tomatillos (husked and quartered)
- 3 medium jalepeños (chopped)
- 3 medium garlic cloves
- 1 cup fresh cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 medium lime (juiced)
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- Combine tomatillos, jalapeños, garlic, cilantro, coriander, lime juice and sea salt in a food processor and process on high until they form a uniform sauce.
- Transfer the salsa to a pint-sized jar, and seal tightly. Ferment at room temperature at least 3 days and up to 5 days. Serve immediately or transfer to the fridge where it will keep up to 3 months.