I was approached with the opportunity of lecturing about the NOVIC trial and doing tastings with a few Evergreen fall 2017 programs. Evergreen starts late, usually the last week or two of September. Depending on weather, I was worried we wouldn’t have good quality tomatoes for the tasting, so I decided to make my favorite preserved salsa to taste as a back-up.
I’d like to think that my approach is in line with the mission of the Culinary Breeding Network (CBN). Direct from it’s website: The Culinary Breeding Network consists of plant breeders, seed growers, farmers, chefs, produce buyers and others in the food community engaged in developing and identifying varieties and traits of culinary excellence for vegetables and grains. The uniqueness of CBN is unparalleled; I cannot think of another organization that examines the culinary characteristics of plant varieties within a culinary product.
Luckily, as a gardener, I have the ability to control a lot of the factors involved in a product like salsa. While each batch of salsa is made with a single tomato variety, the onions, peppers, and cilantro also came from the same varieties grown in the same patch of earth. I look forward to tasting the results. The NOVIC trial includes both paste and slicing types, but mostly consists of the juicy, fresh-eating types. Using these for sauce or other canned goods tends to produce a seedy product, but this fermented salsa is the best way I’ve found to preserve the slicing types.
Here’s the recipe with varieties in parenthesis, but feel free to use what is available:
-7 3/8 oz. red onion (in my case Rosa di Milano)
-8 5/8 oz. yellow onion (Newburg)
-2 lbs tomatoes, cored
-12 oz. sweet pepper (King of the North, Jimmy Nardello, and Elephant’s Ear)
-3 1/4 oz. cilantro
-1/4 oz. garlic (German Red)
-1 1/2 oz. jalapeno
-1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
-1/4 cup whey strained from organic, whole milk yogurt
-1 tsp ground cumin
-2Tbs fine ground sea salt
Instructions: Combine onions, garlic, peppers, jalapenos, tomatoes, and cilantro in a food processor, and blend until desired consistency (I prefer rather thin). Add cumin, salt, lime juice, and whey and mix well. Leaving 1-2 inches of headroom, ladle mixture into jars and allow to sit at room temp for 3-5 days. Ideally, you should stir, taste, and press solids into the liquid brine once a day. Place into the refrigerator when you find the ferment agreeable. (In year’s past this has been 4 days, but my mom confessed that “the 5 day ferments are better,” so they now sit for 5 days.)
First of all, I cannot exclaim about this salsa enough. It is a far cry from the water bath-canned, acidic versions that most recipes make. After assembling, allow to ferment for 3-5 days on the counter (my family prefers 5 days). Then place the jars (or other containers) into the fridge to be kept until unpalatable. Mine usually lasts until Jan/February before it gets a bit fizzy for my liking. It is rare that a jar lasts this long though.
Notice the jar on the left. My mom’s best friend was visiting from Florida and said she couldn’t resist: “it was delicious” she said. I’m looking forward to tasting these singe-varietals side by side.