Dec 14, 2008

lacto-fermented tomato relish

Tomatoes are in season in New Zealand and are consequently very economical. Apparently there have also been issues with exporting them this year, so there is quite a glut of them. All the better to buy up large and preserve them for the rest of the year.

This year I've decided to try one of the Nourishing Traditions lacto-fermented relishes, as well as the usual Edmond's Cookbook relishes and chutneys that all kiwi families know and love.

Step 1 - gather your ingredients. In the photo above, you see
1 Capsicum, or Bell Pepper. Recipe said green, but I used an orange one, then photographed a red one. This needs to be seeded and chopped. i.e. cut it open, throw away the bit with the seeds, and chop up the skin and flesh.
5 Tomatoes. Recipe said 4, but mine weren't very big. Skin them, remove the seeds, and chop.
1 Tablespoons Salt. Recipe calls for natural sea salt. What I have is iodized table salt with anti-caking agent. The purists will throw their hands up in horror. Go ahead.
2 Chillies. Recipe says fresh jalapenos. I have dried chillies of indeterminate species, harvested and dried from a chili potplant I was given. Remove the seeds and chop, being scrupulous about washing your hands afterward. Chili juice burns like fire.
4 Tablespoons Whey. Mine is some liquid strained from homemade yoghurt. Recipe says you can omit this and add more salt, but doesn't say how much more salt.

Then I went for a walk in the garden and gathered 3 green/spring onions and a few leaves of vietnamese coriander/cilantro.

These were also finely chopped, and everything was mashed together in a glass bowl, along with 1/2cup of water. (Tap water. I can hear the screams of purist agony from here).

The mix was then poured into a large preserving jar, tightly sealed, and placed on the bench for a few days (2 to 4 depending on how warm your house is) for those friendly lacto-fermenting bugs to do their thing. Then place it somewhere cool for storage.

Traditional Sauerkraut is probably the most widely known lacto-fermented food. I've not eaten ordinary sauerkraut, but have enjoyed Kimchi, the spicy Korean version. When cabbages are plentiful in my garden, next year sometime, I'll give that a go too.

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