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Cultured Salsa Recipe

Affiliate Disclosure | in Recipes | by | with 39 Comments

I’ll admit, I was a little nervous about fermenting salsa. Would it be frothy, mushy or just plain bad? To my surprise it tastes just like . . . salsa! Good salsa, too. Since I live smack dab in the heart of Tex-Mex country I feel qualified to say that, thankyouverymuch. :)

If I had known making cultured salsa was this easy I would have done it ages ago. Enjoy!


1 quart mason jar with tight fitting lid


  • Four medium or six small tomatoes – cut into halves
  • ½ small red onion, chopped (about ¾ cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ – 1 large jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • juice of two limes
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined sea salt
  • ¼ cup whey
  • ¼ cup filtered water



  1. If you’re using a food processor, add garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, parsley, onion, cumin, salt, whey and lime juice together and pulse until finely chopped.
  2. Squeeze juice and seeds – as much as you possibly can – from tomatoes and add to food processor. Pulse just a few times – if the tomatoes are pureed the salsa will ferment too quickly.
  3. Mix all ingredients and fill jar, leaving one inch of space at the top. If you hand chopped the ingredients, mash them together with a meat mallet so that they will release their juices.
  4. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about two days.
  5. Place in refrigerator to slow down the fermenting process. Technically it should last 2-3 months, but I promise it won’t last that long!


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39 Responses to Cultured Salsa Recipe

  1. Amanda Kotter via Facebook says:

    Wonderful!! Thanks :)

  2. latisha says:

    for the love. i already do this anyway, so off to ferment it now!

    • Heather says:

      Isn’t it wonderful when something you thought was going to be complicated ends up just plain easy?? I love those moments!

  3. Tweets that mention new post: Cultured Salsa Recipe -- says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Heather Dessinger, Heather Dessinger. Heather Dessinger said: new post: Cultured Salsa Recipe […]

  4. Angelica Biernat via Facebook says:

    Thanks for posting this! I bought some fermented salsa through my raw milk co-op and it was delicious! I’ll be making my own now.

  5. Amanda Lowry Milosavljevic via Facebook says:

    i made a similar recipe before and i loved it-especially with scrambled eggs. i can’t wait until summer to have lots of garden tomatoes and make some more!

  6. Mommypotamus via Facebook says:

    Amanda K and Angelica – You’re so welcome!!!

    Amanda M – I love mine on eggs, too! Just finished a bowl, in fact ; – )

  7. valerie says:

    I made for the first time about a year ago and this and it’s really good – even non-foodies eat it. Currently I’m working on my second batch of fermented jalapenos (just like the ones in the jars you can buy at the store except way better and healthier).

  8. katrina says:

    I have just recently added cultured foods to our mostly raw diet, because of three of us struggling with celiac and other allergies. We love, love, love the salsa recipe!!! I can’t get enough of it, but since we have major dairy problems I had to omit the whey and use extra salt. It was then a bit too salty so do I have to use the extra salt or will it work without it?
    Thank you for being here and God Bless you and your family!

    • Heather says:

      Hi Katrina – The extra salt preserves the salsa so that it doesn’t mold before the beneficial bacteria kicks in. However, I think it is too salty too and I have an idea. I suggest you try raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar. It has live beneficial bacteria that should preserve it without making it too salty. It’s good, too! Sometimes we add it just for the flavor.

  9. Lee says:

    I’ve made a dumbed-down version of this a couple times and enjoyed it. I make a fermented hot sauce with just hot peppers and garlic, pureed in the food processor. I keep this on hand in the fridge, and one of many great uses for it is to make a quick fermented salsa. I mix the hot sauce with chopped tomatoes and a little salt and lime juice. No whey is necessary, since the hot sauce will act as the starter.

  10. brittany says:

    Where do you get whey? Is it the same thing as whey protein isolate?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Brittany – If you know of a local raw dairy you can buy whey from them, or you can make it at home by buying some raw milk and culturing it with a kefir or yogurt starter. The milk will separate into a thick, rich layer and a thin, watery layer. The thin watery layer is whey . . . you can just pour it off into another container and eat the kefir/yogurt.

  11. How To Choose Supplements That Are Right For Your Family « The Mommypotamus says:

    […] Some of my fave recipes are carrot dilly sticks from Cara at Health Home & Happiness, my cultured salsa, but really you can ferment anything! Just ask Jenny at Nourished Kitchen . . . she has a whole […]

  12. Stocking The Dream Kitchen « The Mommypotamus says:

    […] processors make it so easy to whip things up in a snap: homemade salsa, banana walnut muffins, crackers, coconut butter, strawberry mint sorbet and so much […]

  13. Brandis L Roush via FB says:

    I still have a half gallon from last summer because I kind of forgot about it… but I am really surprised about how well it kept. I only had to scoop off a little on the top.

  14. Emily James via FB says:

    this is awesome!! we have a family favorite recipe that we use, we normally can a TON of salsa every year in mason jars. now that i’m looking into using traditional culture instead of modern methods, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to enjoy yummy homemade salsa again. Can’t wait to try it!

  15. Janelle Ducharme Scott via FB says:

    Can you fo this without whey? I have to go off dairy for awhile to heal my gut. Also do you have to sterilize jars?

  16. Mommypotamus via FB says:

    Janelle Ducharme Scott – You can use a vegetable based culture like Bubbies sauerkraut juice if you like. No need to sterilize the jars – just wash with hot soapy water :)

  17. Rose says:

    I’ve wanted to try fermenting salsa since I make my own ALL the time anyway (very similar to your recipe – it is SO good and usually only lasts a few days!). Do you need to make sure everything stays under the liquid? How do you keep it all from just floating to the top?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Rose! Most of the time my salsa has extra liquid that rises to the top so it is not a concern, but if not I pack it down and put a jar lid inside the mouth of the canning jar to keep it submerged :)

  18. Annie says:

    Sooo….really weird/crazy question! I dont have access to whey, so I was wondering….do you think it would work the same if I make it out of my own milk (breastmilk) lol?? Or does it work just as well you use the vegetable culture like mentioned before?

  19. Jessica says:

    I am new to this fermented food thing. I would like to start fermenting foods and adding them to my family’s diet. But I am so overwhelmed by all the possibilities and have no idea where to start. It seems that some fermented foods can lead into others. What would you recommend as a starting point?

  20. Recipe: Homemade sprouted tortilla chips fried in healthy coconut oil says:

    […] Cultured Salsa […]

  21. Jocelyn Brown, Hippie Health Coach says:

    I’ve made this recipe time and time again and it always turns out great! It’s also a great way for people to get started making cultured/fermented veggies. Highly recommend!

  22. angela says:

    When do you add the 1/4 cup filtered water? I didn’t see that step in the instructions. And is the whey needed? I am new to fermenting anything other than cabbage. I’ve been doing that for awhile and have never added whey. What is the purpose of whey? Thanks!!! I’ve been making your Best Salsa EVER! recipe all summer and my husband loves it! Now, I am thinking why not ferment it.

    • Debbie says:

      With fermented foods all of the veggies need to be under the liquid all of the time so my guess is that the water is to give extra liquid if necessary to cover the tomatoes.

  23. May says:

    Hi Heather.
    I was wondering since I can’t get raw milk easily here in Denmark where I come from, could I use the whey that comes from when I make home made cheese, I boil some Organic milk(not raw) and add lemon, it then seperates into cheese and whey. Will that work as well for culturing or does it have to come from raw milk ?

    • Heather says:

      Hi May, it needs to come from raw milk unfortunately. Some ferments, like sauerkraut, don’t require a starter. If you make sauerkraut you can use the juice as a starter instead of whey.

  24. Eli says:

    Then you have people from Canada who are always so bummed and straight out jealous when hearing you talk about raw milk. Some genius politicians decided to put farmers in jail if they sell raw milk. But it’s ok if we eat cheese wizz. I thankfully grew up in eastern Europe drinking raw milk all the time, tastes so much better than pasteurized milk.
    Anyway, I am SO trying this recipe very soon. The only thing is that cilantro and my taste buds disagree on pretty much everything there is in this world, in fact cilantro is the ONLY food that’s guaranteed to make me gag. Should i substitute i with something (and if so, what?) lol. As you can see, I’m pretty new to the whole cooking thing. I chop some great salads, make some decent omelettes, and know how to throw the meat in the oven after spicing it, and I also know how to cook fish topped with lemon slices.

  25. Brenda says:

    For those of you who don’t want to use whey, you can use a vegetable starter like this one

  26. Gabbrielle says:

    Are the whey and limes necessary?? I’m allergic to both…

    • Heather ~ Mommypotamus says:

      Gabbrielle, the lime is pretty essential for the flavor, but if you can have lemon you could use that as a substitute. As for the whey, you could use the juice from homemade sauerkraut or another live culture starter instead.

  27. Christa Upton says:

    Would this work with green tomatoes? Had to pick tomatoes before the big freeze! 😀

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