This is my story and I'm sticking to it. I had some cucumbers taking up space in my crisper, going a little soft. I had some lovely tomatoes from a local producer I had purchased in anticipation of my own tomatoes ripening at home, and so had to make something with them to make way for the home grown bounty. What does one make when one combines cukes and tomatoes? Well, gazpacho of course!
Being who I am, I couldn't just follow a recipe. Oh no, I had to experiment... I had some time on my hands. So play I did. Here is the finished product: Fermented Gazpacho! I fermented it in order to increase the nourishing aspects and add some probiotics to the mix. I fermented it in order to help it last in the fridge (fermenting extends the shelf life, did you know?). I also fermented in order to develop a really nice sour note to the cold soup; gazpacho just naturally lends itself to flavour explosions. I decided to try my hand at coming up with my own recipe.
In a blender, combine until chunky (your desired consistency) or hand chop to pieces in the size you want:
- 5 mini cucumbers or 1 long english cucumber
- 4 tomatoes
- 2 bell peppers (I added colourful ones to enhance the visual glee you get from a gazpacho)
- 1 red onion
- 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
- 1 bunch of cilantro (minced)
- 1 bunch of parsley (minced)
- a handful of chives (minced)
Using a digital scale, pre-weigh a big kitchen bowl, big enough to hold your chopped veg. Mark down the weight of your bowl on a piece of paper, and return the bowl to the scale. Add your chopped veg. Mark the weight of the bowl + veg, and subtract the weight of the bowl: you have the total weight of veg! This is important, in order to know how much salt to use in order to allow for proper lactofermentation.
The good folks at The Probiotic Jar can do a much better and thorough explanation of how to figure out your salt brine percentage when making a ferment. See, when fermenting, it is crucial to set up the proper percentage of salt in your final product in order to have that tiny window that allows only the good probiotics to develop, selectively nixing out those that can't live in that salt percentage. This is how you ensure your product is food safe and won't mold, it's by ensuring the proper salt ratio for your ferment. And seeing as this gazpacho had cucumbers and peppers which are prone to mold, I opted to go for a 3.5% brine.
The total weight of my chopped veggies came to 1,623 grams. I multiplied this by 0.035 to get the 3.5% of weight to figure out how much salt to add to this lot. That turned out to be 57g of sea salt. I measured this amount out in a separate bowl using my digital scale, and then proceeded to swap out some of that salt for some leftover brine from a jalapeno+garlic ferment I did last summer. Knowing that 1 tbsp of sea salt can be replaced with 4 tbsp of leftover brine, I then whittled down the 57g of sea salt to 30g of sea salt by scooping out 2 tbsp of sea salt, and I added 1/2 cup of the juice from the jalapeno+garlic ferment, along with a few jalalpeno peppers for proper hit of spice.
It is important you figure out your own amount of sea salt you will need to add to your ferment, in order to ensure it is in that fine range to keep nefarious molds and bacteria out of the final product and make it a food safe venture. Do not follow my measurement, you won't have the same amount of veggies as I did. Each batch is different; it's why I am a big believer in measuring out in grams on a digital scale. It's not as hard as it seems!
Mix the salt + brine (if you are using) in with the vegetables well, and pour your final mix into a fermenting jar that will fit, or a fermenting crock or my favourite, a Fido jar. Make sure the lid is on tight, and if it's a jar you are using, mix your gazpacho every day by tipping upside down and right side up again to redistribute the veggies and salt, in order to prevent mold from developing on the top. If you have your gazpacho in a crock, it might be wise to mix it every day to redistribute the salt and re-submerge the tender veggies.
I let mine sit on the counter for 5 days, but you may prefer the taste at 3 days. It gets a bit more sour as the days go by, so when you decide to tuck in the fridge is completely dependant on your taste buds and preferences.
After the fermentation time on the counter, add to your jar:
- 1/4c flavoured olive oil (I used the Hojiblanca olive oil from Blue Door Oil + Vinegar, but you could use any flavour of olive oil here. Milanese Gremolata might impart that je-ne-sais-quoi!)
- 1/4c red wine or balsamic vinegar or flavoured vinegar (I used my homemade chive blossom vinegar)
- 2 tbsp of lime juice (fresh is best)
- Optional: hot sauce, chipotle peppers, red chili flakes
Mix well, and store the soup now in the refrigerator. Adding these ingredients deepen the flavours of the gazpacho, making each batch a unique offering. Having the good quality olive oil in the mix also imparts anti-inflammatory benefits, and packs on the nourishment and fats to help you assimilate more of the nutrients found in the gazpacho. Up that nutritional ante! Play with your food! And add a dollop of creme fraiche at serving time while you're at it.
The soup will keep for a minimum of 7 days, but I bet you'll run out before the end of day 2.
Bon appetit, les ami(e)s.