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Fermentize This Salad!


Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

This is a favorite summertime salad made with cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onions that are abundant in the summertime. The taste is so light and fresh that I can eat gallons of this salad. I have had this salad many, many times made with vinegar but it was never fermented. So I took it upon myself to fermentize it and fill it with probiotics.  My brother-in-law has coined this word – fermentize – and he made me laugh when he asked if I can fermentize every known food under the sun. Here are a bunch of reasons to make this salad and not the least of them is that it’s cultured, or fermentized, and loaded with enzymes and probiotics to make these special vegetables even more powerful.

These are just a few compound helpers in cucumbers

Red onions have powerful properties

  • Allicin in onions fights regenerative diseases and fungi.
  • Anthocyanins: A type of phytochemical which is anti-inflammatory and strengthens eyesight and the nervous system. Anthocyanins have also been linked to improving memory and the prevention of aging.
  • Red onions are high in vitamin C that protects cells from oxidative damage, supports collagen formation in wound healing, and promotes a healthy immune system.
  • Onion is full of flavonoids, particularly quercetin. Flavonoids are natural chemicals that prevent the deposit of fatty material in blood vessels. Quercetin is a powerful antioxidant that is believed to help reduce heart disease and protect against many forms of cancer. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.
You can add more fresh tomatoes (that are not fermented) to stretch the dish to feed more people. Super yummy, so the more tomatoes the merrier!~Donna
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Servings: quart
  1. If using the starter culture, stir together the culture and water. Let the mixture sit while you prepare the ingredients—around 10 minutes. If using kefir whey, add it when the recipe calls for culture.
  2. Place the tomatoes, onion, cucumbers, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and toss to combine.
  3. Add the mixture to a one-quart glass jar that can be securely sealed.
  4. Add the Cutting Edge Culture or kefir whey and cover with water, leaving an inch or two at the top.
  5. Seal the container and let it sit on your kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight, for 2 days. After 2 days, place the container in the refrigerator.
  6. Check the vegetables every day to make sure they are fully submerged in the water. If they have risen above the water, simply push them down so they are fully covered by the water. If any white spots formed because the veggies rose above the water, do not worry. Remember, this isn’t harmful. Just scoop out the vegetables that have the white spots on them and push the rest back under the water.
  7. Toss with parsley and drizzle with olive oil. Add optional ingredients if desired. Serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

Storage note: This can be kept in a covered airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to two months

51 Responses to "Fermentize This Salad!"
  1. Can you basically “fermentize” any veggie salad or relish type recipe? For instance, Korean seaweed salad is just seaweed, onion, vinegar and sugar. Could you add Caldwell started to that and let it ferment and benefit from all the probiotics?
    Also, can you add garlic to fermenting veggies or does the antibacterial properties of garlic kill the ferment?
    I’ve been making coconut water kefir for one year, have made about 4 or 5 cultured veggie dishes in the past few months and am about ready to harvest my first batch of kombucha!

    • Yes, you can ferment most any vegetables and seaweed too and Caldwell works great.
      Yes, you can add garlic and it doesn’t kill the probiotic and it seems to make them more effective.

      • Thank you! One more question: I have no sense of smell, and thus, very little sense of taste, just salty, sweet, bitter, sour, due to an illness 3 years ago. So my husband is my guinea pig for taste testing : ). I made the Sweet Pickle Relish, as slices, adding cayenne, garlic and two capsules of the Ancient Earth Minerals. The first test, after fermenting, was two thumbs up from hubby. A few days later, after being refrigerated for a few days, he said they had a “sewage-like” smell, and would not eat them. Do you think the Ancient Earth Minerals could have led to this odor? Since I can’t smell, I am continuing to eat them.

  2. This salad we do it often but fermenting it would give you mushy results I imagine. As we repare it in fresh salad form, once we add salt we have to consume it as salt will release water from tomatoe and cucumber and makes them soft not crispy.

  3. I have jars of brine in my fridge that I havnt been able to bring myself to toss. Brine from salsas, pickles, & sauerkraut some are made with cadwells culture starter & some with kefir whey. So I can reuse this? do I just prepare my new salsa, sauerkraut or pickels & just pour it over & use the left over brine instead of adding new starter & the probiotics will grow till the same in the new batch? If so that is awesome!! Im in Australia & cadwells culture starter is expensive & hard to source, it would be great if I can reuse & still benefit from the same amount of probiotics 😀
    Also another quick Q Ive made a few batches of your dilly pickles with whey & I love them Im so addicted the don’t last long, so Ive invested in some cadwells culture starter & made a few batches to last. But they don’t seem the same as the batches I made with the whey, some went harder & white inside totally inedible 🙁 & the other ones that seemed to work better are covered in tinny white spots 🙁 Im soo hooked Im still eating them anyway cause the cadwels are surposed to be so good I didn’t see how bad bacteria could grow in them, but then I got quite sick, Im hoping Im just paranoid & it was not my delish pickles :/
    Do you know what the white spots are & what caused them Donna? should I tuff them?

  4. Hi, for a second batch ferment , do I leave at room temperature or keep in the fridge? Thank you!

  5. Dear Donna,

    After making the salad, we ate it & loved it, but we did not finish it all. I am not sure what to do with the remaining portion. Do I scoop out the salad from the brine and store it that way, or store everything together in the fridge? Please let me know as soon as you can.


  6. How would you know when the brine has stopped working? How do you know when the veggies are done? The 2-6 days is quite a difference

  7. I apologize if this has been asked already. When your recipe calls for 1/4 package of Caldwell’s Starter, you mean 1/4 of one of the pouches, right? Not 1/4 of the box?

    • Correct and you can even just sprinkle a little in it doesnt have to be exact. The good bacteria like room to grow and multiply and doesn’t like to be crowded.

  8. I’ve been into cultured foods for 2 weeks and have made this recipe and 3 others, all turned out so well! Even my wiener dogs love the many veggies especially the sauerkraut! Lol now I’m brewing my 1st batch of kambuchi and did the whey and cream cheese from Nourishing Traditions and that worked well! ILOVE IT THX Donna for keeping it fun and simple!

  9. Just made this. Will let it sit for 2 days, checking it daily. Don’t understand: scoop out the vegies, pouring off the water, but keep the brine in the jar. How does one seperate brine from water? Won’t it be mixed?

      • Oh gee! Funny how one can read something and get a “wrong” meaning out of it. Thanks. Its so obvious now. This seems to happen with more frequency in my 60’s….and I am healthy.

  10. Can you please help me figure out what I did wrong with your recipe for Salad….

    I had everything weighted down so only a few escapees floated on top, but after 1 day when I opened my 2 jars, I noticed they smelled (sort of) like rotten tomatoes. The tomatoes were fresh from the garden and ready (but not too ready). I only partially seeded the tomatoes, but maybe I cut them smaller than I should have? A couple of my friends suggested that tomatoes are very wet and that might be why, and also cucumbers have a lot of water in them. However, you use the recipe successfully so I don’t know why mine would be so different.

    Today I hesitantly tasted them. The one jar tastes off (and yet not too bad); the second jar actually tastes pretty good. The brine isn’t particularly sour either so I wonder about that.

    But obviously something is wrong and I hope you can help me.

    If I eat them anyway, will it be BAD for me? Or somehow okay? And though the salad doesn’t actually taste SOUR, if it had actually turned out well, would the brine be good for me probiotics-wise (since it isn’t that sour)?

  11. Is this like salt brine fermented cabbage in that after it is finished fermenting I need to refrigerate any unused portion? Do the tomatoes, cukes and onions get mushy after a few days after ferment if not eaten!
    Thank you. Looks so yummy!

  12. Would this work if I used only salt and water for fermenting? I have a bunch of tomatoes and cucumbers and no culture starters, they don’t sell any locally. I have fermented green beans and carrots before with only salt and water. I’m pretty new at this. but it came out great. I love your site and story. I am ordering your book today!

  13. Donna can you suggest a good substitute for the tomatoes. I cannot eat Nighshade foods of which tomatoes are a Nightshade. I really want to make this salad, hope you can help me.

  14. 1 more Q. I’m really unclear abt yr beginner recipe: see all CAPS questions:

    Dissolve Veggie Culture Starter with warm water. Add some form of sugar to feed the starter (try Rapadura, Sucanat, honey, or EcoBloom).
    Let the starter/sugar mixture sit for about 20 minutes or longer while the L. Plantarum and other bacteria wake up and begin enjoying the sugar. Put aside.
    Combine shredded cabbage, carrots, ginger, and garlic in a large bowl.

    Remove several cups of this mixture WHICH MIXTURE – THE CULTURED JUICES OR THE VEGGIES? and put into a blender.

    Add enough filtered water TO WHAT? to make a “brine” the consistency of thick juice.

    Add culture starter mixture from step 1 TO WHAT?. Blend well and then add brine back into first mixture. Stir well.

    thank you!!!!

    • Where are you reading this from? Do you see the instructions in the recipe below? Is this from another site? I think that it means to make a brine of the culture veggies and then add the starter to it. You can’t really mess it up however you do it but I am not sure where you are seeing these instructions.

  15. question:
    I went to order and noticed it said free shipping over $20. I ordered the veggie culture starter at 23.+, but on the shopping cart, it added shipping fees. ???? I paid it anyway, but maybe you ought not offer free shipping if your shopping cart isn’t set up to honor it. thanks.

  16. This is great! Thx for this – I’m wondering if you have ever ‘fermentized’ white button mushrooms – would it work? Looking forward to trying yr recipe!

  17. Hi, love your book!
    Can I ask why you deseeded the tomatoes, & can I be lazy and not do this Donna?
    Thanks Beck

  18. When I ferment veggies, I use salt. I realize you get different results but does it matter? I also use whey ( from raw milk) to soak grains. Does it matter if it’s kefir or milk whey? Thanks for your help. I love your recipes. Betty

    • Salt makes vegetables crunchy but you can change the salt if you want too. Kefir whey is better and I have not used regular whey so I’m not for sure the results.

  19. How many times can you reuse this brine? This sounds like something I would like to keep going!

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