When I first tasted this fermented pico de gallo I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
Okay, that’s a little dramatic. But this fresh salsa really is one of my favorite ferments of all time.
I share a lot of photos of my fermented creations over on Instagram. The problem is, I haven’t been very faithful to teach how I do it yet. That’s about to change!
If you’ve been wanting to try fermented foods, but can’t quite get on board with the flavor of sauerkraut or kimchi, you should try this easy recipe. It’s a great way to use up a bounty of fresh tomatoes from the garden and like I said, it’s delicious. As in, I pretty much can’t stop eating it.
(Random fun fact: pico de gallo literally means “beak of rooster.” Apparently it was called this because people ate it by pinching pieces together with their thumb and forefinger. The more you know…)
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Why You Should Eat Fermented Pico de Gallo (and other fermented foods)
Fermented food is the best way to get in gut-healthy probiotics. It works by lactic acid breaking down the sugars in the food.
It’s a little-known fact that when our guts are in good health, it’s likely that the rest of our body will follow suit.
There is definitely a correlation between gut health and overall health. When fermented foods and/or probiotics are regularly consumed, it decreases your risk of cancer, boosts immunity, reduces inflammation, and more. The health benefits are amazing! (click here for source)
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to eat fermented pico de gallo?
It is absolutely safe to eat fermented salsa fresca as long as the process is done right! And it’s pretty easy to tell if you made a mistake. Only throw out a ferment if it has a really off smell or you see mold growing on top.
Does fermented salsa contain alcohol?
Maybe a trace amount, but it’s unlikely that fermented vegetables will form an alcohol content worth mentioning here. Foods higher in sugar/starch are more likely to have a higher alcohol content. This pico de gallo has a shorter fermentation period, which further decreases the likelihood of alcohol development.
I don’t worry about trace amounts of alcohol in my ferments. I believe the benefits outweigh any kind of effect a teeny bit of alcohol may have.
How do I tell if pico de gallo has gone bad?
When ferments go bad, it is obvious. As long as there is no mold growing on top and the smell stays pleasantly sour, you should be good to go. But if you’re in doubt about bad bacteria growing, feel free to toss it out.
Why You’ll Love Fermented Pico de Gallo
Probiotic boost – Due to the good bacteria, pico de gallo packs a superior gut-healthy punch not found in conventional pico.
Garden fresh flavor – Nothing compares to the flavor of summer tomatoes and peppers. If at all possible, use garden fresh produce (sourced from your own backyard or your local farmer’s market).
Easy, no stovetop method – Fermenting food really could not be easier. No need to feel intimidated! Especially when it comes to this pico de gallo. There is no stovetop involved whatsoever.
Multi-purpose – Pico de gallo can be used as a dip with tortilla chips, a topping for grilled meats, in salads, or as part of your next taco bar.
How To Make Fermented Pico de Gallo
I love the convenience that comes with using a food processor for homemade salsa, but this fermented pico de gallo is a bit different. Although you can chop your veggies with a food processor and have this recipe work, I prefer the chunky texture that hand-chopping provides. After all, that’s what pico de gallo is.
Side note: I show off this handcrafted USA-made cutting board by Hess Woodworks as much as I possibly can because I’m in love.
Start by chopping up 8 medium tomatoes, 1 green bell pepper, 1 jalapeño (feel free to swap extra jalapeños for the bell peppers if you like a lot of spice), 1 onion, and 5 garlic cloves. I like to dice up the garlic as finely as possible.
This will take a bit of time, but I promise it’s worth it.
Don’t forget the cilantro. I personally love cilantro. If you hate it, feel free to leave it out. But I can’t imagine pico without it. So I chop up a couple healthy handfuls and throw it in.
Place all those lovely, fresh ingredients in a large bowl. Squeeze the juice of two limes (or use a tablespoon or so of bottled lime juice–you could even get away with lemon juice in a pinch) over top. Then sprinkle 4 teaspoons of salt over top.
Important Note: The kind of salt you use matters, because it places a major role in preserving the vegetables and aiding in the fermentation process. Do not use iodized table salt, as it won’t work. I recommend plain sea salt or Himalayan pink salt.
Stir everything together and feel free to sneak in a few bites before jarring it up. I always do.
How To Ferment Pico de Gallo
Fermenting is the easy part. I use a canning funnel and wooden spoon to help in packing my pico in the jar without a lot of mess. You can use a half gallon mason jar or a quart jar (x2) for this recipe.
Typically, the juice from the tomatoes creates enough liquid. But if you find that there isn’t enough liquid to cover the vegetables after adding a weight, add a teeny bit of water. Filtered or distilled is preferred.
Once everything is in the jar, add a fermentation weight to keep all the veggies submerged in the brine. If you don’t have weights, you can use a plastic storage bag filled with water. I’ve gotten pretty creative with fermentation weights in the past, and I’m sure you can, too! Just don’t use metal, because it counteracts the process and can give the ferment a metallic taste.
Put a lid on it and let sit at room temperature away from direct sunlight for a couple of days. I prefer just using standard Ball mason jar lids, because it’s easy to burp the jar and adjust the level of tightness. For this pico de gallo, I do it once per day.
What is burping in fermentation?
Burping is done by releasing trapped carbon dioxide in the jar. It’s important to burp the foods you have out on the counter fermenting 1-2 times per day. This keeps them from leaking or exploding when you loosen the lid. To burp, loosen the lid until you hear the air escaping, then retighten.
Burp your pico when you remember and don’t stress about it. The beautiful thing about this ferment is it doesn’t need to sit out long at all. Just 2 days of fermentation, and you can store your pico de gallo in the glass jar you fermented it in for several months. Of course, you could go longer, but I find that this fermented salsa recipe is unappetizingly sour if it sits out a long time. So be sure to put it in cold storage as soon as that slightly tangy flavor develops.
How long will fermented pico de gallo keep?
It will keep for 3-4 months or likely longer in sealed storage containers. Although the fermentation process is greatly slowed down in the refrigerator, it will continue over time. If your pico ends up in the fridge for a while and you find it is getting too sour, you can strain the veggies and blend them up into regular salsa. This usually improves the flavor quite a bit.
If you enjoyed this simple recipe, be sure to leave a 5 star rating and a comment down below!
You may also enjoy these recipes/posts:
Fermented Pico de Gallo
- 8 medium tomatoes
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 jalapeño pepper
- 1 onion large
- 5 garlic cloves finely diced
- 1 handful fresh cilantro chopped
- 4 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp lime juice or juice of 2 limes
- Chop all veggies into small chunks and place in large bowl.
- Add salt and lime juice and mix everything together.
- Pack everything into half gallon mason jar (or 2 quart mason jars). If more liquid is needed to submerge the vegetables, add a tiny bit of filtered/distilled water.
- Place fermentation weight on top. However, if you aren't fermenting for more than 48 hours, a weight is not really necessary as there is not time for any growth to occur.
- Screw lid on and let ferment on the counter out of direct sunlight for about 2 days. "Burp" (allow air to escape) the jar every 12-24 hours.
- Move to the refrigerator and store. Will keep for months, although the pico may become more sour the longer it sits.