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.
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.
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
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 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
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)
- 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.