The end of summer is approaching, and for many gardeners that means the cherry tomatoes are coming in by the dozens, or even hundreds. It can be really difficult to use all of them up! My favorite way to eat them will always be plain, straight from the vine, as I stand with the afternoon sunlight in my hair—but even after I gorge myself with cherry tomatoes, there are usually too many left. Every gardener I know loves to grow cherry tomatoes; they are adorable, tasty, and perfect for snacking. But let’s face it; if you grow cherry tomatoes, you will end up with a lot of extra. Fermenting them is a perfect way to prolong their edibility, add tremendous flavor, and kick up their nutritious value with probiotics.
Another way to use a bunch of cherry tomatoes? Use them in Glut Sauce; a full-proof, delicious, and super-easy way to preserve any kind of tomato!
Now, I know what you are thinking; ferment tomatoes? It sounds impossible, and maybe kind of gross. Tomatoes are soft and vulnerable. Won’t they just turn into mush? Surprisingly, no! With a short ferment, cherry tomatoes retain their ‘pop’. They also gain a delicious fizz, much like fermented salsa. You will be pleasantly surprised by how well tomatoes hold up to fermentation.
I love the name ‘cherry bombs’ when it comes to this fermented snack. They burst in your mouth like tiny bombs of flavor. They are fizzy, tangy, and so delicious! The basil and garlic—two ingredients that were made to go with tomatoes—add mouth-watering flavor.
This is a very short ferment that will need to go into the fridge after just a few days. If the bombs get softer than you’d like, don’t fret! Keep them in the fridge for a few months and use them when you make salsa, or crush a few up and add them to your tomato sauce-pasta dish right before you eat it (cooking them will destroy the probiotics). Mine never last long enough to go anywhere but straight into my mouth.
I cannot emphasize enough: these cherry bombs are absolutely scrumptious eaten as a snack right from the jar. Try a quart of them today—you’ll be in love!
Lacto-Fermented Cherry Tomato “Bombs”
Gather the following:
• 1 clean wide-mouthed quart jar
• 1 pound cherry tomatoes
• 3 cloves garlic, peeled
• 1 stem of fresh basil
• 5-6 peppercorns
• 1 Tablespoon sea salt
• 2 cups filtered water or water without chlorine
Follow these steps:
1. Start with clean hands, jars and tools to help prevent mold.
2. Place the basil and garlic in the bottom of the jar. Fill the jar with the cherry tomatoes. This may take a bit less than a pound, as you’ll want to leave an inch of headroom.
3. In a separate bowl or large glass measuring cup, combine the salt and water until the salt is completely dissolved. Pour this brine over the tomatoes. Leave a little over an inch of headroom—you may have a bit of brine leftover.
4. Place a weight over the tomatoes, then top the quart jar with a lid and airlock. If you don’t have weights or airlocks, loosely cover the jar with a lid and shake the jar several times a day. I find it much easier if I use tools; it takes away my trepidation and makes fermenting seem fool-proof!
5. This is a short ferment. Let the tomatoes ferment for three to five days. When the bombs are fizzy and taste just how you want them, remove the airlock and store the quart jar, covered, in the fridge. I prefer to leave the weight in cherry tomato ferments; they are still slowly fermenting even refrigerated, and the tomatoes tend to float. Leaving the weight in will keep the tomatoes under the brine, helping to prevent mold .
6. Enjoy for up to three months. If they get too soft in the fridge after several months, you can chop and add them to salsas, soups, and pasta dishes. I really doubt your cherry bombs will last that long, because you will find yourself eating some every day!