Now that tomatoes are rolling in I thought I’d share this recipe from last year. This is our absolute favorite ferment and some of the tastiest salsa we have ever had.

A few of you have made a request for my recipe or method for making a fermented salsa. I’m excited to share this with you for two reasons:

  1. I am making this stuff a lot lately.
  2. It is some of the best salsa we’ve ever had.
  3. It’s a lot easier than water bath canning salsa.
  4. It is a tasty way to take in some probiotics.
  5. It keeps for months in cold storage.

Okay, that was five.

Seriously, though, I plan on making gallons of this stuff for winter and have gotten a start with 1.5 gallons already tucked away in our refrigerator. I figured that our family could easily eat a quart of this salsa per week, and that’s if I can keep my husband’s hand away from the jar with a spoon.

Lacto-Fermented Salsa

makes 1/2 gallon of salsa

Recipe Notes: I use a food processor because it really speeds things up. You certainly don’t need to – simply chop everything up to your liking and continue with recipe. Also I like to store mine in 1/2 gallon jars instead of quarts to save on refrigerator space. Fermented salsa is salty, so don’t be alarmed. The salt and they whey are what will preserve it and give it those wonderful probiotics.

  • 1 large onion or a large bunch of green onions, cut into large chunks
  • 3 small bell peppers, cored and cut into large chunks
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves (unchopped)
  • 2.5 pounds roma tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons coarse celtic sea salt
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1/2 cup whey
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water


  1. Combine onion, bell peppers, garlic, and cilantro in food processor. Pulse 3-5 times until coarsely chopped. (At this point if the lovely smells coming from this combination don’t make you swoon then I don’t understand you.) Add 1/3 of the tomatoes and pulse 2-3 times until room is made for additional tomatoes. Repeat with another one third of tomatoes. Finally, add the last of the tomatoes and pulse an additional 3-5 times.
  2. Pour contents of food processor into large bowl. Add the lemon juice, sea salt, cayenne powder, and whey. Stir well and allow to sit a few minutes while you prep your containers.
  3. Wash two quart jars or one 1/2 gallon jar well with soap and hot water. Do the same for a food funnel and jar lids. Ladle the salsa into jars, leaving 2-3 inches of head space. Add water to submerge the salsa.
  4. Close lid tightly and leave at room temperature for a few days, until bubbly and fermented. During this process the solid vegetables may separate from the liquid. Simply stir with a wooden or plastic spoon until redisbursed and submerged under the liquid. Transfer to cold storage. Should keep for months.

Have you tried fermenting salsa yet?


75 Responses to How I Make Lacto-Fermented Salsa

  1. mark says:

    i’ve got 2 pickl-it jars in the cupboard with this recipe fermenting right now. i can’t wait to try it! i snuck a taste before i closed up the jars and if it’s only going to get better it will border somewhere between amazing and epic! thank you for th great idea!


  2. valerie linet says:

    I made a mistake and briefly blanched the corn that i added to this otherwise raw salsa. Do you know if it will still ferment well enough for long-term storage? It’s such a lovely batch, otherwise. Any info would be appreciated!


  3. Hi,

    I’m so glad I found this recipe, I want to try it. I’m not sure I have all the ingredients, but pretty close. I wonder, though, when fermenting it, should the top be screwed on tightly, or not so tightly to release some of the gases or whatever it is? Also, I’m sure any tomatoes will do, I have lots of heirlooms and red ones from our CSA. Thanks!


    Shannon Reply:

    Lyza – I always ferment vegetables with a tight-fitting lid. The reason for this is to keep any outside bacteria out of the ferment that would compete with the establishment of the good bacteria. But I do generally “burp” my jars. So everyday I just take a look at my jars and see if the canning lids give at all when I push down on them. If not I just barely loosen them and a fizzing sound usually emanates (like opening a can of soda, but less drastic). This lets out the gas, which if you do not release may explode your jars, while keeping minimal contact with outside bacteria.


  4. Lora says:

    I’m still learning about fermenting, canning, etc. There is so much fear-filled information on botulism that I’ve been reluctant to try some foods. Can you give me wisdom here. Is there really a risk of botulism with fermented foods, how can I distinguish the good info from the fear mongers?


  5. Elizabeth says:


    There is definitely a lot of fear mongering when it comes to fermented foods. The best way to distinguish the good information from the bad is to read THE guide on fermenting by Sandor Katz called “Wild Fermentation”. It is an excellent book and a great starting point. Check it out at your library and try one or two recipes. We started with something very basic, like sauerkraut, and have never regretted it. Sauerkraut in our house has become one of the requested things by our house guests, because it really is so easy and soooo much better! Good luck!


  6. Ruth says:

    Help, I’ve made this salsa twice this season and am worried it’s not right. It smells like spoiled tomato salsa and that’s got me worried. It also is fizzy and tastes spoiled, altho deep underneath the flavors are great. When it first went into the frig (after setting 3 days on the counter) it tasted great. Then gradually in the refrigerator it got more fizzy and began to smell like other salsas(not homemade) I’d had go bad in the past. No evident mold has appeared. but is this the way it’s supposed to be? I tossed the first batch and was disappointed the second one also began to smell bad. Help!! I love the original flavor but am worried.


  7. [...] – another classic dish that can take a fermented turn! Click here for a recipe and give it a [...]

  8. vika says:

    can i substitute whey for sauerkraut juice and how much?


  9. […] How I Make Lacto-Fermented Salsa :: Nourishing Days […]

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