Like seed catalogs for home gardeners, fellow preserver Kate says the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is the canner’s equivalent — wonderful to browse mid-winter and dream of the colorful jars to come. It was while thumbing through the salsa section that we came upon this irresistible description for Carrot Pepper Salsa: “This delightfully different salsa is a mouthwatering addition to hot dogs and sausages. It also makes a delicious dip for fresh vegetables or tortilla chips. Stir it into potato or pasta salad to add color and flavor.” We also liked how the carrots add texture to this tangy cross between a salsa and relish.
With ingredients leftover from making Carrot Pepper Salsa, it wasn’t too great a leap to creating a lacto-fermented version — simply substitute a cup of grated carrots for the tomatoes. In order to be able to sample the salsa at different points, we divided this first batch between two pint jars by placing 2 tablespoons of whey and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt in each jar, and left 1 inch of headspace for the salsa to expand in. While the ingredient list is flexible, keep the salt, it’s what holds off the bad bacteria long enough for the good bacteria to take over during fermentation.
In addition to the salt, whey is included to ensure that good bacteria, Lactobacillus, is present from the start. To obtain the whey, we leave yogurt to drain overnight, and a cup yields approximately 1/4 cup of whey. Clarifying the whey by running it through a coffee filter helps keep it longer, and the thickened yogurt leftover is an added bonus.
Note: Whey that is leftover from making cheese with an acid (vinegar, lemon juice or citric acid) lacks the same bacteria that cultured yogurt contains.