Fermenting tomatoes & salsa

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Rockergirl

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Aug 31, 2022
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Raleigh
I just started to dabble in fermenting over the weekend. I fermented chopped tomatoes with garlic and basil and salsa. I did not need added liquid in either because the tomato juice fully covered the vegetables. I put them in pint sized jars with 2 teaspoons of Himalayan salt. It's been 3 days and I haven't seen any bubbling at all and when I crack the lid to see if co2 escapes, nothing happens. Am I doing something wrong? The recipes I read said it should be ready in 2-3 days. It does not smell sour like I read it should. Do I leave it on the counter longer if I haven't seen any bubbling or pressure escape? How long is too long? I made 7 jars of good stuff....I really don't want to lose it....any way to fix it, if it's too late? Its already SUPER salty, so I don't want to add more....
 

summer57

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Vancouver
Where did you find the recipe? I've seen green tomatoes fermented in brine, but not Himalayan salt. Is that pink Himalayan salt?
 

Rockergirl

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Aug 31, 2022
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Raleigh
From a couple of videos from people that teach fermenting. They have all mentioned the pink himalyan salt was okay. As long as it wasn't table salt/iodized. Some recipes call for the brine (filtered water with the 2 tsp of salt - for pint size) but the ones that I did, didn't require the brine because the juice from the tomatoes fully covered the vegetables, so just adding the salt works. At least that is what was shown.
 

blissful

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Mar 25, 2008
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It sounds a little salty, but it should work. Room temperature here (WI) right now is in the 60's, and things don't ferment when they are very cool. If it was 80 or 90 deg F, then a day or two. I ferment things at room temperature but it takes longer than 2 days when it is cool. Keep tasting it, it will sour, and the bubbles will show up. Give it a week to 10 days.

The recipe I just looked at, for fermented salsa, had 1 T salt to 2 liters. So it would be 3/4th's teaspoon per pint. It might be difficult to tell if it is sour, if it tastes very salty, but that doesn't mean it hasn't started getting sour.
 

Rockergirl

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Aug 31, 2022
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Raleigh
Thank you Blissful, you are always so helpful! A couple more questions - I'm used to canning over this past year and botulism is one of the "fears" from canning. Can I get sick (botulism) from tasting my fermented food before the fermenting starting happening? Like in this situation, it's been 3 days and no "bubbles" or air pressure coming out when I "burp" the jars. I did taste it today, since that was something I read about doing. I don't smell anything sour at this point. My other question, will it always "bubble" during fermenting? Always visual and burping? or are there certain foods/times where you may not visually see the process happening? How will I know if the process is complete and ready to go in the fridge? I had thought I understood that it will bubble and burp for a couple of days and once that starts to tone down is when it's time to go in the fridge. Also, is it okay to fully open the jars while fermenting (as in to taste and smell) - I read conflicting info on this as I thought "air" was the enemy....Thank you :)
 

blissful

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Mar 25, 2008
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Okay, I think botulism is something that grows in anaerobic conditions. No air -conditions, like in canning, or garlic with oil where no air comes in. So no, tasting it and opening the fermented stuff before it is done or before it starts is okay.
All these ferments kind of work the same--sauerkraut, pickles, vinegar, hot sauce, salsa and they can be opened, stirred to put air in it, and tasted. The salt keeps the bad bacteria from multiplying. A small amount of active culture (like a T of apple cider vinegar, or whey from making cheese), will acidify the solution to also keep it safer. (from mold for instance)

If you are fermenting in glass-you might be able to see bubbles along the sides though you'd stirred it the day before. I ferment grain flakes, and they come to the top of the container, and if I leave them overnight at 90 deg F, some of it might spill over (another way to see the volume change with air bubbles within it). If you seal containers tightly, the gas can't get out, it might crack your container or lid. It should be lightly tightened or just set on top.

It's hard to 'see' the bubbles forming, or the volume go up with bubbles within it....unless it is marked very well, to compare heights of volume. I suggest looking first thing in the morning, and if it is cool where you are, then give it a couple days without touching it. You can stir it down, then leave it another 2 days and check it.

If you really want to know if it is fermenting. Fill one of the salsa containers, salsa w/ liquid at the top all the way to the lid, with no extra space. Lightly put the top on. Dry the outside. The next day or two, some liquid will have dribbled down the side and you'll see it on the counter because the bubbles will force up some liquid.
 

Rockergirl

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Aug 31, 2022
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Raleigh
Yes! I meant to reply earlier but this week got away from me and then we got hit by the tail end of Ian, in NC. No power/internet for almost two days. I just put my last jar of tomato basil in the fridge. They all finally started to bubble. Been burping them each day until they started to have that "pleasant sour smell" and the "pleasant sour taste". I still have my salsa sitting on the counter. They really haven't bubbled but they have dripped out of the lid some. Not really getting the sour smell yet on those but the salty taste has slightly eased up. I'm thinking maybe they are taking a little longer since they have onions, jalapenos & lime in them as well.

Also - after reading your post, I loosened my lids slightly. I originally had them pretty tightly closed.

Thank you for checking! I think next I'm going to try to ferment my jalapenos and serranoes (I have a bunch l need to use up before I pull my plants). I may try to ferment my jalapenos and turn them into hot sauce (recipe/video I found online).
 
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