I had been very reluctant to make Fermented Tomatoes because it seems impossible to me to buy proper tomatoes in Ireland. They cannot be nice and juicy in such a cold country, can they?
Please, tell me if I am wrong!
However, one day I found an article by Olia Hercules where she advised using Spanish winter tomatoes for fermenting, so I decided to give them a go. I combined Olia’s recipe with the one by Peter and must say the result was rewarding.
Before I proceed to write about my tomatoes in detail, let me drop a few words about Olia Hercules.
Olia is a Ukrainian girl who went to live in London when she was a teen and trained as a chef. Last year she published a book ‘Mamushka’ that is a collection of eastern European, mainly Ukrainian, recipes and was named Observer Rising Star 2015 in the food category.
I haven’t read the book yet, but the article she published on food52.com is the best piece about fermentation I have ever read. Olia has the strong Ukrainian spirit in her and doesn’t buy into the hipster atmosphere of novelty and ‘fanciness’ about Fermented Food. She writes about it with love and deep understanding. And humour!
So, how could I not trust Olia and keep refusing to ferment tomatoes?
I couldn’t find Spanish raf tomatoes recommended by her, so I bought Spanish cherry-plum kind that looked nice. Here is is how I fermented them:
Ingredients for one 1-litre jar:
250 grams tomatoes
1.5 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp sugar
3-4 allspice berries (available in all eastern European shops)
2 dill heads or a bunch of fresh dill or a teaspoon of fennel seeds
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon celery seeds
2 garlic cloves
I boiled 3 cups of water with salt, sugar, allspice and peppercorn and let it cool down. I placed the rest of the spices at the bottom of the jar and filled the jar with tomatoes. You can half the tomatoes or pierce them with a fork as the skin is not as permeable as on other vegetables. Put the lid on and wait about 7 days or until the brine gets cloudy. As with all the fermented veg, you can just open the jar and if doesn’t smell nicely sauered to you, just put the lid back on and keep fermenting.
The taste of Fermented Tomatoes is very hard to compare to anything else. You must just try it yourself. Eating them is a bit like eating dry Greek olives. The first one is so strange that you are sure you will never have another one, but when you have another one, you cannot stop eating more and more.
I ate the whole jar just by snacking on them, but they can be used as a side/condiment for potato or rice based dishes, for example.
If I made you curious about Fermented Tomatoes, you may enjoy watching the video with mighty Olia herself making them, to a different recipe, though.
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