masala tomatoes

Visitors to the renowned Bibliotheca Yumblog will notice in the recent additions cabinet a small but essential tome called ‘Ferment from scratch’ by Mark Diacono. This is number four in the ‘…from scratch’ series, the other three being Brew, Sourdough, and Chartuterie. Mr Diacono is also the author of a much-loved and oft-consulted cookbook here at Yumblog Villas called ‘Sour: The Magical Element That Will Transform Your Cooking’.

Of course you can use ingredients other than Scratch to make your ferments, in this case we opted for tomatoes.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: None
Skill level: easy
Makes: a 700ml jars worth
Recipe: ‘Ferment from scratch’ by Mark Diacono


  • sea salt – 20g
  • filtered water* – 400ml
  • cumin seeds – 1 tbsp
  • coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
  • fennel seeds – 1 tbsp
  • cardamon pods – seeds only – 6
  • cloves – 2
  • cherry tomatoes – washed and de-stemmed – 625g

*If you don’t have a water filter, leave tap water to sit for a couple hours – this is to remove the chlorine which will inhibit the growth of the good bacteria.

Start by sterilising a Kilner jar (700ml minimum)

Dissolve the salt into 100ml of hot water, top up to 400ml with cold water, and set aside to fully cool.

Gather all your spices together and lightly crush to release the aromatics.

Tightly pack the tomatoes into the preserving jar and sprinkle over the spices.

Pour in the brine so it covers the tomatoes but leaves a 2cm gap below the top of the jar.

Seal the lid and invert the jar a few times to mix in the spices.

Check the tomatoes are still covered and then set aside in a cool place out of direct sunlight.

Invert a few times every day to ensure an even spiciness. Also open the lid to release the C02 and check the tomatoes are still below the surface of the brine as they tend to rise with the gas.

After a week the tomatoes should be sour, spicy, fizzy and ready to eat, although you can leave longer if you prefer your Solanum lycopersicum sourer, spicier and fizzier.

Once you’ve started to eat, store in the fridge.

They should keep for up to two months.

Eat on their own, on toast, add to salads, or use as the base for a sauce.

Verdict: Interesting. Soft, juicy, subtly spiced, fizzy tomatoes which are both tasty and gut microbiome-friendly. Feel free to experiment with different spices and herbs. More ambitious readers might like to try this involved ‘(A variation on) Raymond Blanc’s Tomato Essence‘, which once distilled can be used as a base for this delicious ‘Raymond Blanc’s Tomato Risotto‘.

Drink: H20C02 for extra fizziness.

Entertainment: ‘Bake Off’ is back. They seem like a nice enough bunch. Shame Amos was the first to leave.

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