No, this is not a Halloween prop…
these are real green tomatoes, in various stages of ripeness…
in the process of fermenting.
Quite stunning, as a kitchen accessory, if I must say so.
Last year, when I was putting up my harvest of tomatoes, it really hit me exactly how much heat it takes to process tomatoes to preserver them through traditional canning methods.
My favorite method of preserving tomatoes, roasting, still recommended pressure canning them — or putting them into the freezer.
So this year, armed with my new-found knowledge of fermenting, I am using lots of salt, (6 tablespoons per quart of water) to preserve these gorgeous specimens, at room temp — for about 3 days. Maybe 4, if I’m feeling brave. I pierced them with a pin to ensure the brine reaches the interior of the tomato.
This is by far my biggest fermentation project ever — the hardest part was finding a vessel big enough to hold them, and then, finding a “weight” to keep everything under the brine, to prevent mold.
The payoff? Intense, fresh flavor, all winter long… loaded with vitamins.
I’m using latex-free plastic gloves and a rubber band to keep things air-tight — the larger jar needed a ziplock bag, secured with a rubber band. I’ve used a cup and bowl, with water to help weigh everything down.
No vinegar is involved in this preservation method – I’m activating the bacteria in the tomato to create a cultured environment, and release the vitamins in the fruit. Tomatoes are risky in the fermenting world — as they have antimicrobial qualities… Beets, you can ferment for weeks, for example… but not tomatoes.
After 3-4 days, I’ll be moving these fermented tomatoes to the fridge, (How! Their size! I would love to have a “cold” root cellar like my Grandma had!) to be used in chimneys and sauces. After a few weeks, I’m told they should go to the freezer. Mushy, yes… but isn’t that what you need for a sauce?
In the freezer, I’ve learned, the tomatoes will lose their “probiotic” but they will taste amazingly fresh. Fermenting brings out flavor and nutrients — and it preserves that fresh flavor and nutrients.