A story about a beach in Maine,…
Pickled Green Tomatoes and some Fermenting Tips
They take some time, but they sure are delicious
It’s said that taste evokes memories and takes you back in time to other places. Well I can’t argue that after tasting the fermented green tomatoes I made.
When I first packed these in the jar it was an experiment. It’s been many years since I had a pickled tomato and I wasn’t sure if I took to them back then so I figured with all the green tomatoes we had on the vines…why not?
I kept checking them weekly to see how they were progressing and almost gave up due to lack of progress. They just weren’t cooperating.After four weeks I felt they were starting to move along so I let them alone.
In another two weeks they were finally starting to ferment into something edible. I would pop one or two in my mouth and, while not ecstatic, I’d munch them anyway. Then I put them in the refrigerator to make room on the counter for another kitchen project. January comes along and I decide to try them again. That’s the pickled green tomatoes I remember.
Fermenting is very simple with only a few rules to pay attention to. In my experience, if you miss one of them and something goes wrong you will know it. As in cooking and baking there are two forces at work; temperature and time. Fermentation is no different. A higher ambient temperature will lessen the time needed to complete a successful ferment. Once your ferment is done to your liking change the temperature by refrigeration or moving the ferment to a cooler spot to slow the process.
Usually a ferment is done in a couple of weeks but these tomatoes took their sweet time. Twelve weeks or more! Why?
I believe two things were in collusion to keep my fermented green tomatoes from success. The first was the tomatoes themselves. They were as hard as rocks and very green. Second was the brine. I used my usual two percent brine on these stones. A stronger brine would probably moved things along a bit more while there was little I could do about the hardness of the tomatoes. Nonetheless, the tomatoes finally came around and they are quite tasty now.
Aside from the brine concentration there are two other factors you need to be aware of. If you have never fermented anything remember time and temperature. There is a close relationship I have experienced in anything I have fermented; be that beer, bread, kombucha, or veggies.
If the ambient temperature is higher, like 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, fermentation will be faster than if it were 65 to 70 degrees. This is why you’ll want to monitor your ferment more frequently during the warmer months than the colder months. The lacto bacteria are more active in warmer ambient air temperature and will produce more carbon dioxide gas so it behoove one to have a mechanism to release this gas.
If you don’t have a mechanism you can always “burp” the jar. The drawback is you are letting oxygen back into the ferment. There are several different options for you to use. There are one-way airlocks, crocks with water seal rims, and silicon seals with pressure vents. I generally use silicon seals and am starting to use one-way air locks. Each has its pluses and minuses that I’ll talk about at another time.
Fermentation is easy to do. Start with something simple like sauerkraut. Here’s an post on how to make your own incredible kraut. Give it a try, I think you’ll like it and the confidence it will give you for more adventurous fermented products.
Brine Solution Chart
To make a brine solution start with one quart of water, non-chlorinated. If your water is chlorinated let it sit open at room temperature for one day. To this add:
1 tablespoon of salt for 2% brine
1.5 tablespoons of salt for 3% brine
2 tablespoons of salt for 4% brine
2.5 tablespoons of salt for 5% brine
Do not use table salt as it contains iodine to prevent clumping and could turn your ferment odd colors, or so I’m told. I recommend kosher, sea salt, or Himalayan powdered salt.
To read more about fermentation I suggest two authors… Sandor Katz and Leda Meredith. Note these links are to our Amazon affiliate page and we will earn a small commission should you purchase them. This costs you nothing more on your purchase.
Finally, here is a video on how easy it is to make sauerkraut. Enjoy and share it with a friend. If you have questions just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. Thanks!