The Easiest Ferment in the World: Cherry Tomatoes

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If you’ve never fermented vegetables and want an easy recipe to start with, make these fermented cherry tomatoes, literally bursting with flavor. Your five minutes of prep work aside, they essentially make themselves. The most difficult part will be the (fairly short) wait.

Quick probiotic preservation

Did you plant cherry tomatoes this year? Fermenting part of your harvest will preserve it without heating the kitchen up to can on a scorching summer day. Once the fermented tomatoes are ready, they do take up some space in the refrigerator—unless you have a cold cellar (lucky you!). Chilled, they will keep for several months. Enjoy a taste of summer—and gut-friendly probiotics!—in the dead of winter.

(Go here for fermentation FAQs.)

A cherry tomato plant growing in a terracotta pot. Most of the tomatoes are green. There is a red one in the bottom middle of the pic.
Backyard cherry tomatoes grown from free seeds that came from our community garden share

How to ferment cherry tomatoes

To ferment cherry tomatoes, combine water and salt, place cherry tomatoes in a jar, pour in the brine, close the jar and wait. If you like, add some whole garlic cloves and fresh basil leaves as well. No chopping, no crushing, no starter needed.

In about five days, depending on your kitchen environment, you’ll have little effervescent bursts of tomato flavor that you can eat one by one, or chop up for bruschetta, or toss with homemade pasta with pesto or enjoy in many other dishes. After you eat all the fermented tomatoes you can ferment more in the now-cultured brine. This second batch will ferment much quicker than the first. Repeat a third time if you like.

When you decide to stop fermenting new tomatoes in the brine, reserve that liquid. It packs loads of flavor. Enhance everything from soups and sauces to grains and dressings with this secret ingredient. DO NOT POUR THIS OUT! Last December, I used a jarful to add tomato flavor to a pot of soup that contained no tomatoes.

Go here for more tomato recipes (some fermented, some not).

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Fermented Cherry Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, washed
  • 2 cups water
  • tablespoons salt
  • 5 cloves peeled garlic, optional
  • 8 leaves fresh basil, optional

Instructions

  • Measure the water in a measuring cup. Add the salt and stir. Set this brine aside for a few minutes until the salt has dissolved.
  • Place the cherry tomatoes in a clean, 4-cup jar or larger, along with garlic cloves and basil, if using. Pour the brine over the tomatoes. To submerge the tomatoes in brine, place a small weight inside the jar, such as a small glass bowl or a small glass yogurt jar. If the brine begins to overflow, remove some. Close the jar and place it on a plate to catch any brine that might bubble out of the jar during active fermentation.
  • Let the jar sit at room temperature for about 5 days. During that time, the brine will become cloudy and the tomato color more subdued—signs of successful fermentation. The tomatoes are ready when they are effervescent and tangy. Move them to the refrigerator, where they will keep for several months or longer. Do not leave them at room temperature as they will turn alcoholic quickly.
  • After emptying the jar of the tomatoes, make a second batch by adding more fresh cherry tomatoes to the brine. This second batch will ferment much quicker in the culture-rich brine. Check them every day until they are ready.

Notes

The brine has a salinity of about 5 percent. (Read more here.)

And now for your next recipe…

Save that delicious brine! Add some to enhance the flavor of various dishes such as soup, rice, salads or dips. When cooking a dish with the very salty brine, reduce or omit the salt the dish calls for and remember to taste as you go so your food doesn’t taste too salty.

Find more fermented recipes and more tomato-based recipes in my cookbook. Check the book out here.

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2 Replies to “The Easiest Ferment in the World: Cherry Tomatoes”

  1. Thank you, Anne-Marie! I make my own yogurt, sauerkraut, and ferment a few other vegetables, but had no idea we could also ferment tomatoes. These sound delicious – I will start a batch this weekend. Thank you for this and all of your cooking and sustainable living ideas!

  2. What a great idea! I usually just stuff my extras raw in the freezer for soups and sauces in the winter, but this sounds really delicious!

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