Are you looking for more ways to add fermented foods to your diet? If yes, then you are going to want to try this unique gut-healthy fermented salsa verde. Fermented salsa can be used in any recipe that calls for regular salsa or as a topping for tacos and a dip for chips!

finished fermented salsa with tomatillos, salt, and jalapeños by the bowl

This fermented salsa is a quick and easy recipe made with fresh tomatillos, garlic, onion, seasonings, cilantro, and a kick of jalapenos. It’s the perfect recipe to get started with fermenting foods!

In my house, I make a batch of this often to use on homemade tacos or this easy nacho casserole. It’s also fun to serve up as a party dip along with this vegan nacho cheese and Mexican caviar dip, or as a dipping sauce for air fryer taquitos and other Mexican appetizers.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Budget-friendly recipe. A great way to extend the shelf life of homemade salsa.
  • The easiest way to use up fresh veggies!
  • A great dish full of tangy flavor to entice picky eaters to eat foods that will improve their daily diet.
  • Full of gut-healthy probiotics that are good for you!

What is fermented salsa?

Fermented salsa is a type of fresh salsa that sits for several days in a closed container at room temperature on the kitchen counter. As it sits and cultures, the good bacteria begin to populate the salsa.

This same process is also used to make kimchi and sauerkraut. Fermenting foods impart a uniquely complex bright flavor with acidic undertones, helps preserve the food, and make it more nutrient-dense.

The fermentation takes place as yeast and bacteria metabolize the carbohydrates in the vegetables’ acid and allowing good bacteria to develop and grow.

Is Fermented Salsa Safe?

Fermented salsa is safe to eat, and in many ways, it is better for you than salsa in the refrigerator section of your local grocery. These salsas lack the healthy probiotic, gut-loving goodness of fermented salsa.

What are the health benefits of fermenting?

The probiotics, beneficial bacteria that are created through fermentation, are very beneficial to our overall health. According to HealthLine, here are some of the most common:

  • Improves digestive and gut health and makes food easier to digest.
  • Boosts your immune system
  • May help with weight loss

Ingredients

All you need are a handful of fresh produce and easy to find ingredients to make a batch of fermented salsa. Let’s look at the highlights:

fermented salsa ingredients, onion, tomatillos, lime, cilantro, coriander, salt jalapeno, garlic. and a ball fermenting jar with special lid
  • Tomatillos: This small green fruit (or vegetable) looks a lot like small green tomatoes, but they’re often covered in a husk and have a bright tart flavor.
  • Jalapenos: Adds spiciness to the salsa. Be sure to remove the seeds and veins inside for a less spicy salsa, and adjust the amount to your personal taste.
  • Garlic, onion, and coriander: Aromatics and spices used to add flavor in salsa. 
  • Fresh cilantro: This green herb adds a unique flavor to the salsa. If you don’t like the flavor, you can also use parsley. 
  • Lime juice: I definitely recommend using fresh lime juice.
  • Salt: Plays a crucial role in fermentation so don’t leave it out!

For the full list of ingredients and the amounts you need, check the recipe card further down the page.

Equipment

  • Use a good quality fermentation lid with my canning jars like these Smart Lids, which allow the carbon dioxide to safely leave the jar without needing to open the lid. It’s bestt
  • Look for the bubbles. Tiny bubbles should appear at the surface of your salsa while it ferments. It’s a good sign that the beneficial bacteria are doing their job.
  • Look for color changes. As the salsa ferments, it will become more acidic, and this may cause it to change color from vivid green to a dull green.
  • Don’t skimp on the salt. Adding salt to the salsa helps keep mold and other microbes that can cause spoilage at away, allowing beneficial bacteria to grow.
  • Make sure to give your jar a good wash with hot soapy water prior to adding the salsa.

How to Make Fermented Salsa

The prep work for making fermented salsa at home is quick but you will need some time to let it sit and do its thing! Let’s look at step-by-step instructions for how to make this recipe. Detailed instructions are in the recipe card.

coriander, lime juice cilantro, onions chopped jalapeno, garlic cloves and tomatillos in a blender

Prep

  1. Jalapeno: Remove the stem from the jalapeno, core, and remove the seeds. If you like spicy food, then leave the seeds in the jalapeno.
  2. Onion: peel and chop
  3. Garlic: remove the covering
  4. Tomatillos: remove paper-like covering. Cut each one in half.
  5. Cilantro: wash and rough chop cilantro
  6. Lime Juice: Juice one lime. Do not use bottled lime juice.

Blend

ingredients for in a blender

Place all the ingredients into a food processor and process for 1-2 minutes until the salsa is smooth. 

Salt to taste

fermented salsa in a blender with salt setting in a bowl by it

I like to add my salt after I mix the salsa. I stir it in. Don’t skimp on the salt, it keeps bad bacteria from growing.

fermented salsa in a ball glass canning jar with ball fermented lid by it

Transfer the green salsa to a glass quart jar.

Press the salsa down in the jar so the veggies are fully submerged.

fermented salsa in a ball quart jar with fermenting lid and date written on a paper

Ferment

Seal tightly with a lid. I like to use fermentation lids.

Allow the salsa to ferment for four days on the counter, away from direct sunlight in a cool dark area. After a couple of days you will start to see bubbles form, this is good.

Chill salsa

fermented green salsa with tomatillo in corner

Once it’s fermented, you may eat the salsa immediately or store it in the refrigerator. Keep the salsa in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. I like to use a piece of tape on the lid and write the use-by date. 

Fermenting Tip

Before your salsa is fermented, it is a light green, bright green. As fermentation begins, it will get to be a darker earthy green. This is good.

Variations

The beauty of fermenting homemade salsa is you can easily change up the flavors. Here are some ideas for using some easy substitutions.

  • Swap the tomatillos and use green tomatoes or red tomatoes, such as Romas, because they do not have a lot of seeds.
  • Instead of sweet onion, use purple onion with a bit more bite.
  • Swap the hot peppers for green chiles or green bell peppers for a less spicy flavor. You might also enjoy switching raw peppers for Pickled Jalapeno Peppers.
  • Want it spicier? Use serrano peppers instead.
  • Leave it chunky instead of blending smooth. This works to skip the food processor for a texture more like pico de gallo or you can pulse the food processor for a fermented salsa that’s somewhere in between.

How to store

For long-term storage, place the finished product in the refrigerator to significantly slows down the rate of fermentation. Add a label to the top of the jar and store for up to three months, or longer, without losing their quality and good taste.

I use a glass canning jar with a plastic lid. I love using these lids to store all kinds of food in my pantry and refrigerator using canning jars

Wide Mouth Plastic Mason Jar Lids 

How to Serve

Favorite fermenting cookbooks

Fermented foods like salsa, sauerkraut, kimchi, and drinks are great sources of probiotics. Try some of these cookbooks for more recipes to experiment with fermenting foods.

Fermented Vegetables: Creative Recipes for Fermenting 64 Vegetables & Herbs in Krauts, Kimchis, Brined Pickles, Chutneys, Relishes & Pastes

Mastering Fermentation: Recipes for Making and Cooking with Fermented Foods

Common Fermenting Questions

Here are some of the most commonly received questions I get about making fermented salsa.

What does fermented salsa taste like?

It tastes similar to normal salsa but has a bit more tangy flavor.

Why does my salsa taste like beer?

Most likely, your vegetables had a good amount of yeast on them and the yeast in the air also activated the bacteria to metabolize.

If you like a less beer-tasting ferment, then be sure and use the fermenting smart lids I suggest.

Is it ok to have bubbles?

After your salsa has set for 24 hours or so, you will likely notice that small bubbles on the surface of the liquid beginning to form. This is the normal part of the fermentation process where the good bacteria are developing and growing.

More seasonings and salsa recipes

fermented salsa in bowl with jalapeños and tomatillos by it
5 from 1 rating

Fermented Salsa

Prep Time: 10 minutes
fermenting time: 4 days
Total Time: 4 days 10 minutes
Servings: 3 cups
Gut healthy fermented salsa verde is a quick and easy recipe made with fresh tomatillos, garlic, onions, seasoning, cilantro, and a kick of jalapenos.

Note: Be sure to read through the recipe’s post for tips and details about this recipe.

Ingredients
 

  • 14 oz tomatillos, husked and quartered
  • 3 jalapenos, medium size, seeded and quartered
  • 3 garlic , medium cloves
  • 1 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped, fresh
  • 1 teaspoon coriander, ground
  • 1 lime, medium, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • cup onion , sweet, quartered

Instructions
 

  • Place all ingredents into a food processor. Process for 1-2 minutes until salsa is smooth. 
  • Place in a glass quart jar.
  • Press the salsa down in the jar so the veggies are fully submerged in the juice/brine.
  • Seal tightly with a fermenting lid.
  • Allow to ferment for 4 days on the counter in a cool dark area.
  • At this point, you may eat the salsa or store it in the refrigerator. Keep the salsa in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. I like to use a piece of washi tape on the lid and write the use by date. 

Notes

  • Use a good quality fermentation lid with my canning jars like these Smart Lids which allow the carbon dioxide to safely leave the jar without needing to open the lid.
  • Look for the bubbles. Tiny bubbles should appear at the surface of your salsa while it ferments. It’s a good sign that the beneficial bacteria are doing their job.
  • Look for color changes. As the salsa ferments, it will become more acidic, and this may cause it to change color from vivid green to a dull green.
  • Don’t skimp on the salt. Adding salt to the salsa helps keep mold and other microbes that can cause spoilage at away, allowing beneficial bacteria to grow.
Serving: 0.5cup, Calories: 66kcal, Carbohydrates: 14g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 1556mg, Potassium: 478mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 662IU, Vitamin C: 42mg, Calcium: 30mg, Iron: 1mg
Cuisine: Mexican
Author: Gina Dickson
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This post was originally published in August 2021. It has been updated for content and new images in November 2022.