Lacto-fermented Roasted-Tomato Salsa *

We love salsa in our family, especially this lacto-fermented salsa….and it’s sooooo good for you 😀 We put it on everything from tacos and burritos to scrambled eggs. This salsa is about a medium heat level. You can adjust the heat and seasonings in this salsa to suit your tastes by adding more jalapenos and/or more ground cayenne pepper. When it’s warm out, in the summer months, we sometimes like to roast everything on the grill to avoid using the oven.

  • 2 pounds Roma tomatoes (about 8 to 10), sliced in half length-wise
  • 4 large cloves garlic (do not peel)
  • 1 medium onion (yellow or red), sliced into thick rings but not separated
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, left whole
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, or to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon or lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon mexican oregano
  • pinch (1/16 tsp.) ground cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined sea salt, such as RealSalt or Himalayan Salt
  • 4 Tablespoons whey (see how to obtain whey)

Other Items you will Need:

1-quart sized wide-mouth jar (preferably with air-lock lid)

Preheat broiler to 500F. Have ready a large heavy-duty baking sheet.

Gently smash cloves of garlic with the back of a spoon or drinking glass, leave skins on.

Place tomato halves on baking sheet (cut side up), along with the sliced onion, garlic cloves, and jalapeno peppers. Place baking sheet in oven, directly under broiler, checking on them every 5 minutes. Turn as needed, when tops are browned and/or bubbly. Brown both sides, removing any pieces as necessary when they are finished.

Place broiled peppers into a plastic zip-top bag and seal. Allow to steam for 5 minutes. When done steaming; peel off the skin and remove stem, seeds, and membrane. Meanwhile mince all the vegetables (be sure to peel garlic first) to desired size*.

*NOTE: If you have a food processor, mincing the vegetables is very easy and quick to do. Just pulse all ingredients, individually in the food processor. It is important NOT to mince them all at once, or you will end up with half the ingredients turned into a puree before the other half gets to the size you want.

As you mince each ingredient (tomatoes, garlic, onion, peppers, cilantro) add it to a medium mixing bowl. When everything is minced and added to the bowl, add the lemon (or lime) juice, cumin, and oregano; stir gently to combine. Stir in the whey and sea salt. Taste and add ground cayenne pepper as desired.

Pour salsa mixture into a 1-quart sized wide-mouth jar. (Always remember to leave 1-inch of space from the top of the jar to allow for expansion.)

Place lid (preferably air-lock lid) on the jar tightly. If using air-lock fill with water according to instructions. Allow to ferment, at room temperature, for 2 days.

Remove air-lock lid, if using, and replace with storage lid — transfer to cold storage.

Makes 1-quart.

*Sugar-Free / Grain-Free

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Disclaimer: The information in this post is meant for educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.


  1. I’ve made this before and you aren’t kidding. It is the BEST salsa. I would like to make more and don’t have any whey at the moment. I do have a nice big jug of homemade beet kvass. Could I substitute that for the whey in the recipe? I figure it’s live and the flavors of the salsa will prevail. Just wondering your thoughts. Thanks!!

    • Caren, Hi thank you for the nice comment. Whey is really needed in this recipe. Beet Kvass is not a good substitute in this situation.

      Glad to hear your like the salsa!

  2. hi there

    Sorry I always thought that you could not ferment a vegi or fruit once you had cooked it. Did I have this wrong?

  3. This is now my all-time favorite salsa. It is so good. I upped the jalapeno for my taste. Thanks for sharing.

    • Glad you like it! It is our absolute favorite too 🙂

      • Margaret says

        I have a question — will it work alright to cover my jar with some cheesecloth while I am fermenting? I have made sauerkraut this way, but never fermented salsa. I’m looking forward to trying it. Thanks for the recipe!

        • Margaret,

          When fermenting either sauerkraut or other vegetables, the process must be done anaerobically (without air). Cheesecloth will not keep the air out of your ferments. When air is allowed to freely get into your ferment, it can make it unsafe, allowing mold, bad yeasts, and other issues. To keep the air out, you must use a specially designed fermenting crock, which are expensive, or an Air-lock Jar System that will keep the air out but allow gasses created during the fermentation process to escape. Our system, The Original Veggie Fermenter, utilizes wide-mouth canning jars that are readily available in most stores (most people already have some of these jars). If you have more questions about fermenting please see our many fermenting articles.


  4. Just curious – I have a friend that can’t have whey or any dairy, could extra salt be used instead? I’m not super familiar with the whole process but am excited to dive in… and if only whey can be used, I guess that’s more for me. 🙂

    • No you could not use extra salt in this recipe. The reason is because the vegetables have been roasted, in-turn killing some enzymes which need replacing by the whey. If you wanted you could make a “fresh” salsa, keeping the vegetables raw and omitting the whey.

      Since you are new to lacto-fermenting, be sure to check out our lacto-fermenting book + kit package which will give you the tools and confidence you need to start fermenting. The book covers everything we teach in our local fermenting classes plus more – history, safety, tools, methods, and over 40+ easy to follow tried and tested lacto-fermenting recipes. If you’re interseted check it out.

  5. I wonder if anyone has tried to culture guacomole? Hmm

  6. Toni Legates says

    Could you use a few tablespoons of homemade Kraut juice instead of whey to get your ferment started. I’m not a big fan of whey…

    Thanks ,

  7. Calvin King says

    Would it be possible to can this salsa in a water bath or does that have a negitive effective on the good bacteria?

    • Canning this salsa is not recommended, in-fact I do not recommend “canning” period really. All canning will kill the bacteria, enzymes, etc. in the food.

  8. The first time I made this salsa, I splurged on some beautiful organic tomatoes, expecting that a big two quart jar would last at least a month. This salsa recipe is SO good, my husband scarfed it all down in a week. I am making another batch (thank goodness tomato season is almost here), but this time I’m doubling it. Hopefully it will last two weeks. Thanks!

  9. This looks incredible! I’l definitely have to give it a go this weekend. Having not worked with a lot of (well, any) lacto-fermented recipes, do you have any idea if it keeps longer than raw salsas (i.e. a couple days)?

    • This fermented salsa should keep for at least 1 month (probably longer) if properly stored in the refrigerator.

      • only 1 month??? it HAS to be stored in the fridge? I heard the basement or crawl space is fine as long as it’s chilly….

        • The salsa should last at least one month after opened, possibly more like two or three. After that is has a tendency to get too fizzy. Fermented salsas do not last as long as other vegetable ferments because tomatoes are really more like a fruit.

          Ferments need to be kept in cold storage to slow the fermentation process and keep them fresh. If you have a root cellar or crawl space that is cool enough, that should work fine. But make sure it is at least 50 degrees… closer to 40 is even better.

          I do not have a place like that to keep my ferments, so they are always put in the fridge at my house.

  10. Wow! Just tried this and it is amazing! I didn’t think anything could top my old salsa recipe but I do believe this has done it. Thanks!

  11. This salsa sounds wonderful! I’ve really been getting into raw foods lately, guess roasting the veggies would rule out all raw… but it sure sounds so good that way! I was wondering, is there any way you can make salsa without the whey and just use salt? Or would you have to use too much salt to get it to ferment?

  12. You could use another 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon of salt, but in my opinion it would taste much too salty for a salsa.


  1. […] cup fermented salsa (I like this roasted tomato recipe, although I have to cook the onions–I won’t eat them […]

  2. […] plated up my guac and chips, then decided to top it all off with some of my lacto-fermented roasted tomato salsa. It was beautiful and had a taste worthy of a fiesta. Next time we have guests over for dinner I am […]

  3. […] July 29, 2010 by kitchenkungfu If there’s one thing I hate, it’s so-called salsa in a jar in the grocery store. GROSS. The useless sodium-laden, soggy, sugary mess inside is enough to make me run away screaming. I haven’t consumed the stuff in years for that very reason. For me, it’s homemade, restaurant-made, or nothing. And to be honest, I make a smashing raw tomato salsa that I was not interested in improving. Until I saw this recipe. […]

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