Fermented foods are big right now. Everywhere you look, someone’s talking about the health-promoting qualities of sourdough bread, kimchi, or yogurt, and for good reason: fermentation introduces digestion-aiding probiotics and the glucosinolate compounds believed to fight cancer. What’s more, it might even support the immune system.
Bonus: They also happen to be tangy and delicious.
A fun, easy way to get into home fermentation is with overripe tomatoes. When fermented, tomatoes become the bassline for a crowd-pleasing Bloody Mary, one of the only veggie-focused drinks. (You heard it here first: a cocktail can mitigate the negative effects of the industrial food complex *and* bring balance to your belly!)
Like Oscar Wilde said, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”
A tasty recipe for the perfect fermented Bloody Mary comes from a kindred spirit, Anne Marie Bonneau whose site, The Zero-Waste Chef celebrates efficiency, creativity, and ingenuity when it comes to making the most of our ingredients. She’s allowed us to share it here. One reminder from Anne Marie: fermenting, while very easy, is not quick. Prepare the fermented tomatoes this weekend and you’ll likely have Bloody Marys by next weekend’s brunch.
Note: For me, a great Bloody Mary comes down to the mix of spices. I like mine spicy, spicy, spicy, with a black pepper kick, and plenty of horseradish, preferably grated from the fresh root on a cheese grater. I also really like using a fermented hot sauce like the ones from Oregon Brineworks, plus a little pink salt and definitely a crunchy, long celery stalk. And for the vodka? I use Tito’s or Ketel One.
Fermented Tomatoes Recipe
From The Zero-Waste Chef
Yields approximately six cups
3 pounds tomatoes, cored and chopped into bite-size pieces (no need to remove skins)
3/4 tablespoon salt or to taste
Olive oil to seal jars if desired
3 pounds tomatoes
1. Place bite-size tomato pieces and salt in a glass or ceramic bowl. Do not use metal or plastic as the acids produced by fermentation will react with these materials. I use the ceramic crock from my small crock pot for fermented tomatoes. Use your clean hands to crush the tomatoes into a soupy consistency. This will take only a few minutes. Do not wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap as this can harm the good microbes.
2. Cover your bowl with a thin breathable cloth and secure it tightly to keep out nasties.
3. For the next few days, stir the tomatoes several (four or five) times a day. Stirring helps prevent mold from developing on top. Every time I go into the kitchen to make tea (which I brew often), I remove the cloth, give these a stir and replace the cloth. The tomatoes will start to bubble around day two or so, depending on your kitchen environment.
4. Continue to stir for another four or five days or so after your tomatoes have begun to bubble. Taste them daily. When they taste tangy and have some effervescence, transfer them to clean jars.
5. Pour a little olive oil over the top if desired to help keep the air out of your ferment. If you will use these soon for your Bloody Marys, skip this step.
6. Transfer jars to the refrigerator to chill. Your tomatoes will keep for over a year.
You now have fermented tomatoes for your Bloody Mary! You could also cook this down for tomato sauce, add it to a recipe like chana masala or chili or many other recipes that call for tomatoes. Heat from cooking will kill the microbes but your recipe will taste delicious.
Bloody Mary Recipe
From The Zero-Waste Chef
Yields one drink
3 ounces fermented tomatoes (recipe precedes)
1 ounce vodka
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Splash of puréed fermented hot peppers
1/4 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce (omit if vegan)
Celery stick for garnish
Lime wedges for garnish
If you added olive oil to the tomatoes, remove it and set aside for another use. It will have solidified in the refrigerator, making it easy to remove. Purée the tomatoes. Combine ingredients and pour into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with celery and lime wedges if desired.