A Fermented Bloody Mary

I’ve had one A Tale of Two Cities kind of summer. But some good things have emerged from the worst of times: daily yoga practice, more piano playing and fermented Bloody Marys.

Mary Tudor
Mary I portrait by Antonis Mor, 1554

Fermented Tomatoes

In place of V8 or tomato juice, I use fermented tomatoes for this Bloody Mary. Fermented tomatoes don’t have that sauerkraut flavor that many other fermented vegetables do. They taste more like, well, V8 or tomato juice.

If you’re younger than I am and hope to fuel your weekend partying with this drink or you’re my age and hope to serve it at Sunday brunch, you’ll have to wait until next weekend or so. While very easy to do, fermentation does require a bit of planning and patience. Only within the last several decades have we eaters and cooks turned passive consumers come to expect every food and beverage we crave when we crave it. Cooking techniques like fermentation help put you back in touch with nature and I believe lead to a more sane lifestyle.

Like all other fermentations I’ve tried, I couldn’t believe how easily I cranked out this one. I have cooked tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes and it tastes delicious but requires lots of work—roasting the tomatoes, running them through a food mill and then cooking them down. Fermented tomatoes render a similar though runnier product, with about 80 percent less work and zero electricity or gas! I like easy!

I fermented the tomatoes in the pic below last September and used them to make the Bloody Mary in this post. The tomatoes still tasted tangy and delicious, with a surprising effervescence. While fermentation doesn’t preserve tomatoes for as long as canning does (canning preserves food for years!), it certainly does preserve them for a long time. Plus fermentation actually boosts the nutritional value of the tomatoes, fills them with probiotic goodness and makes them taste incredibly delicious.

finished tomatoes
Last year’s tomatoes for this year’s cocktail

Fermented Tomatoes Recipe

(So you thought you had signed up for a post about Bloody Marys. I promise I will get to that soon…)

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 lbs 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.

hand crushed tomatoes

2. Cover your bowl with a thin breathable cloth and secure it tightly to keep out nasties.

2015-07-08 22.52.46

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 top if storing long-term to help keep the air out of your ferment. If you will use these soon for your Bloody Marys, skip the olive oil step.

6. Transfer jars to the refrigerator to chill. Your tomatoes will keep for at least 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

Yields one drink


Adjust ingredients to taste

  • 3 ounces fermented tomatoes
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • splash of puréed fermented hot peppers
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce (omit if vegan)
  • ice
  • celery stick for garnish
  • lime wedges for garnish (I didn’t have any)


1. 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.

2. Combine ingredients and pour into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with celery and lime wedges if desired.

Bloody Mary


28 Replies to “A Fermented Bloody Mary”

  1. I’ve read that topping your ferments will olive oil is potentially dangerous – that it drops the pH in your ferment and allows potentially dangerous bacteria to thrive.

    1. But I read about it on Sandorkraut’s site and elsewhere! Thanks for letting me know. I’ll look it up.

      1. I read about it on the Wild Fermentation facebook page and elsewhere. I’ve read using another oil – coconut has been mentioned a few times that hardens might be a better oil to use.

      2. Thanks Becky. I like the idea of coconut oil because it solidifies. That might work well.

  2. Great idea! Probiotic Boody Mary’s, lol

    1. May as well make it healthy Cynthia 😉

  3. Sounds like the perfect way to kick off weekend brunch!

  4. This is bloody brilliant – excuse my French! I am not generally a fan of juices but I do love a good Bloody Mary and absolute genius to be able to make a home made one with a natural tang… I must try this. (Best stock up on some more muslin/cheese cloth. Essential kitchen utensil for a fermenter and Greek yoghurt/labneh maker 🙂

    1. Thank you Meg 🙂 Some students asked me to teach them how to make ricotta cheese and other soft cheeses so I think I’ll have to give your labneh a try. I didn’t strain my tomatoes but I have read other recipes that call for straining the seeds and skins of the before fermenting. That would also be delicious.

  5. Love this! And glad good things emerged from your best and worst of times… You and I are so often on such complementary pages of life– I wanted to share with you this veg. kvass I made that tasted so much like V8registeredtrademark. Never have loads of fresh tomatoes here, so feel a bit envious of you… https://kitchencounterculture121.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/diyv8/

    1. Thanks Annie. Your V8 sounds fantastic. Great idea to throw in all those other vegetables. You’re a genius 🙂

  6. Well that’s certainly worth investigating! Tomato crop almost finished but I may just have enough to try this….thanks!

    1. Thanks for checking it out 🙂

  7. Miecislau Dolata says: Reply

    Polish Bloody Mary (Ojciec z Matka) Papai com Mamãe em português:meio copo de molho de tomates e 50 ml de vodca polonesa.Modo de fazer:em copo alto por molho de tomates e depois bem devagarinho pela parede de copo para não misturar,despejar a vodca.Haverá duas distintas divisões:em cima vodca e em baixo extrato de tomates.Bebe-se de uma vez,primeiro a vodca que arde na garganta (ojciec/papai) em seguida tomate que, suaviza a garganta (matka/mamãe) Saude/Na zdrowie.Sou polonês que há 43 anos vive no Brasil e escrevo para os da língua portuguesa.Cordial e fraternal abraço para Chefe de Zero Resíduos e todos os leitores do Blog,Miecislau.

  8. I bought tomatoes to try this, and it will be my very first fermentation attempt! Do I have to worry about burping the tomato jars once they’re in the fridge?

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hi Joumana, I wouldn’t worry too much about burping the jars in there. They still ferment slowly over time but I haven’t had any trouble with tomatoes. It you were to keep ginger beer in there for months and months on the other hand, you would need to burp it occasionally. A neglected bottle of ginger beer kind of strikes me with sheer terror. Tomatoes are much much less active. Enjoy! ~ Anne Marie

  9. I tried making these, but they don’t seem to be bubbly after a week. I made them in a pasta sauce jar because that was more space-friendly in the fridge. Could that have made a difference?

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Oh no! I’m not sure why they aren’t bubbling up. The jars should be just fine. I make my salsa in jars and that contains mostly tomatoes. Even if you didn’t leave them open to the air, they would bubble up. Did you store them on the counter while they fermented? How cool is your kitchen?

      1. There’s my problem! I put them in the fridge to ferment instead of leaving them out. I put a lid on the jar after I gave up, and they’ve been sitting in the fridge ever since. Do you think I can take them out to try again, or should I just start over at this point?

      2. The Zero-Waste Chef says:

        I would take them out and try again. I sometimes freeze apple peels and cores for scrap vinegar. Once I have amassed a large enough pile, I ferment them and they always have come to life. The freezer doesn’t seem to harm them so I think your tomatoes will be fine.

  10. I’m working on a ferment right now. They bubbled for 3 or 4 days, but the bubbling seems to have stopped. Are they ready to go in jars, or has something gone wrong?

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hi Noah,
      Depending on what you made, the bubbling subsides within several days. That’s normal. What did you make and have you tasted it yet?
      ~ Anne Marie

  11. Hello! I’ve really got into ferments this last year and I was excited to try this tomato sauce. However, two days in I’ve found a patch of mould. I’ve not experience this with any ferments before so I’m unsure how to proceed – is this something I can scoop off and still continue or am I best to pour it on the compost and start again? I’ve also not done anything in a bowl covered by a cloth before, could I do it in a jar and cover the opening for less surface area/potential for mould?

    I’ve been a follower of yours on Instagram for quite a while now but this is my first time commenting on here, so I’d also like to add how much I love your posts – always full of interesting ideas and tips that have helped and inspired me over the years. Thank you!

    1. Hi Melissa,
      Thank you for the kind words. I’m sorry about the mold. Ugh. If it’s white only, Sandor Katz says you can scrap it off and proceed. You’ll have to make the call on that one. Any chance it is kahm yeast? A patch does sound more like mold though. If you decide to scrape it off, I would stir it frequently until it has fermented. That will help prevent mold from forming. More salt might help also (but not so much that you can’t eat the food). I’m not sure about the surface area but that’s worth a try. I hope this helps. Thank you very much for the kind words about my posts 🙂
      ~ Anne-Marie

      1. Thanks for your response! It was just white, so I scooped it out and continued with it (thought it was worth the try at least!) and have increased the amount of stirring, and it seems to be coming along nicely. Im looking forward to trying it!

      2. Oh great. I’m glad it’s doing well 🙂

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