fermenting tomatoes question

backyardbumJune 28, 2012

It sounds so yummmy. I really want this to work. so far I have made two jars of mush. I am certain with your help I can master this. Let me tell you what I did and you can tell me all the things I misunderstood or everything I did wrong.( and I did reserch this after reading a couple of threads on this forum---Still can't get it right.)

Washed store bought grape tomatoes.

pierced several times with needle.

put in a quart jar.

covered with brine (3 tablespoons canning salt to 1 quart water 2 cloves garlic and 1 tablespoon dill seeds.)

crushed sandwitch bags to keep under brine added ziploc bag of water for weight.

The first time there was a tiny bit of brine leak out of the jar. Then it turned cloudy, tomatoes sank and turned to mush.

The second time they sat there and laughed at me and did nothing. When I finally gave in and opened them I had a jar of rotten tomatoes.

House temp then was 72* to 75* (I'm thinking that may be too warm. (It is 107 now so I will have to do some managing to get a place ready by the time the tomatoes are ready. growing cherry tomatoes for this project, and from the looks of things I am going to have enough of these for the whole county.)

Thanks for your time. I love a challenge!

Lynn

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olga_6b

I do my tomaroes in Pickl-It Jars (from pickl-it.com)now. In the past I used to do it in the regular pot with a plate on the top, but I found that for tomatoes pickl-it containers are better. For cherry tomatoes I would not pierce them. Just put them in container, add garlic, dill seeds and add salt soultion and put plate/weight or pickl-it weight and cover on top. I love it colder in my house, so my temperature is usually around 68-70. It works well for me. Liquid should turn cloudy, this is normal. Never had a mush or rotted.
Olga

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 11:27AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Glad to see Olga replied as she is probably one of the few here who would have any experience with doing this. I honestly can't recall it ever being discussed here in the past.

I know it is done in many European countries but it isn't a popular or common practice in the US. What are considered safe fermentation practices in the US are quite different from those practiced in Europe. And since there are risks associated with it and there are no tested and/or approved methods it is considered a 'do-at-your-own-risk' activity.

Google pulls up some how-to instructions on fermenting tomatoes that you might want to check out.

Dave

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 11:49AM
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backyardbum

Thank you so much. I will check on the containers.

My house is not air conditioned.It is too large and open to cool with window units. My family think I am nuts. I have decided to put the window air conditioner in one of the unused bedrooms and seal it off. Then I can keep it cool enough to ferment tomatoes. (These may be really expensive tomatoes!)

If it gets too hot at night to sleep I will put on my winter pajamas and grab my blanket and go in there to sleep!!

So you don't worry I am drinking over a gallon of water a day. Have fans running and being smart about this record heat. It is dangerous and I hope everyone understands this.

HINT: Put three slices of orange and three slices of lemon in a gallon of water. Put it in the frig, It gives the water a hint of flavor and is more refreshing. I also put in a few sprigs of mint. Better than soda and I use to drink 5 or 6 of those a day!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 12:59PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

The first fermented tomatoes I tasted were Bulgarian. I didn't like those and decided if the professional ones didn't appeal (I mean my personal preference.) odds were I wouldn't enjoy my own either and decided to skip it.

But the first thought that occurs is a ripe fermented cherry tomato is likely to turn out mushy. It's soft and loaded with juice in the first place; it's only going to get softer fermented and the juice leaching into the brine is going to weaken it considerably, increasing the odds of spoilage under warm conditions.

Linda Ziedrich (The Joy of Pickling) recommends half-ripe as opposed to fully ripe for the most pleasing results. Green tomatoes are also good prospects for fermentation.

Carol

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 1:52PM
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olga_6b

Are you sure Bulgarian tomatoes were fermented, not pickled? The most common way in Bulgaria for preservation of ripe tomatoes is pickling (with acid). Fermented tomatoes are more comman for Russia, Ukrain, Poland, etc.
I love pickled ripe tomatoes too, but they differ in taste from fermented quite significantly.

Olga

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 8:51PM
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olga_6b

Dave, not to start a debate, but just a friendly question related to your message:
"What are considered safe fermentation practices in the US are quite different from those practiced in Europe. And since there are risks associated with it and there are no tested and/or approved methods it is considered a 'do-at-your-own-risk' activity".
Original poster question was about fermentation, not about canning. I believe approved reciepies are required only for canning. If you ferment dills, cabbage, tomatoes, or anything else and plan to keep it in the fridge, there are no safety concerns really. So European recipies are as safe as American in this case. Unfortunately home fermentation is not so common or popular in US. Not just vegetables, but cheese, kefir and other things. It became recently a little more common, but still what percent of families in US make their own home cheese or ferment their pickles or cabbage?
Olga

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 9:02PM
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backyardbum

Olga do you can your fermented tomatoes? How long will they keep in the reftigerator? I have made no decisions past learning how to do this successfully. I have never tasted them --- I may throw them out!

Fermented cheese? Okay where is a good place to go to learn the fundimentals and interesting facts? (books, internet)

Thank you Carol. I agree with your assessment of the cherry tomatoes. I may have to sauce the cherry tomatoes and ferment the paste tomatoes. Dave thanks for all your input

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 10:31PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Original poster question was about fermentation, not about canning. I believe approved reciepies are required only for canning. If you ferment dills, cabbage, tomatoes, or anything else and plan to keep it in the fridge, there are no safety concerns really.

Thanks Olga. I understand it was about fermentation and not canning, but yes there are guidelines for fermentation from USDA just as there are for canning. Many of the older methods once used in the US as well as many of the methods used throughout Europe, are no longer considered safe by USDA guidelines.

Not only is a specific salt:food ratio considered critical but also the manner in which it is done and how long it is exposed to room temperatures. FDA then adds that the pH should be tested and confirmed below 4.6 and tested for pH stability. No oils of course and only limited amounts of low-acid additives as they not only affect the pH but the amount of salt required. There are also guidelines for how long it is safe for refrigerated storage. Many of these changes came about as a result of the studies on listeria growth in fermented foods done in the 1960's.

Of course, given the types of fermentation most practiced in the US (pickles, sauerkraut, and yogurt) we have specific guidelines for those items but only general guides for other foods. And as with the canning guidelines, everyone has the choice whether to follow these guidelines or not.

I hope that clarifies what I was trying say before.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: USDA Publications - Preparing Fermented Foods

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 10:40PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Yes, these were fermented tomatoes in a standard salt brine, not pickled.

Carol

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 3:42AM
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olga_6b

Backyardbum, good place to read about cheesmaking is linked below.
Dave, I am not going to argue. You are right everybody are free to make their choices.
I am aware about listeria studies. PhD in microbiolody helps :). I also know that in my family we did fermentations for centuries, I will take my chances. I will never do canning w/o following guidence, but fermentation daners are greatly overestimated in my, I believe, informed opinion.
Olga

Here is a link that might be useful: Cheesemaking

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 9:31AM
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olga_6b

Dave, forgot to add that you of course are right about temperature and salt concentrations. You have to know what you are doing to make save fermentations. I was just trying to make a point that fermentations, especially commercial or done by people with experience are quite safe in my opinion even if it is something not covered by guidance.
Olga

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 9:38AM
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