I love going to fairs. This time of year, in many communities around the world, people get together to share the bounty of their farms and backyard gardens. I have been involved for 20 years now with the vegetable exhibits at the Dutchess County (NY) Fair. The first Dutchess County fair was held in 1842. The first one I attended was the 150th, in 1995.
Of course, farmers have been meeting to share and compare their wares since ancient times. In North America, the first recorded agricultural fair was in 1765. Traditionally, fairs encompass all aspects of farming, food and rural life - from livestock competition to innovations in farming technology.
I like participating in a tradition that goes back hundreds of years. It makes me feel connected to traditional ways of producing, harvesting, preparing and sharing food.
I have a small garden at home, but it's not big enough to produce near enough food for our family. Produce in stores often is harvested by giant machines and travels thousands of miles to reach us. But at the fair I get to meet the people who nurtured this food for months face to face. And there's lot of them. Collectively, the people who enter their veggies at the fair have created an amazing bounty. And each year I get to reconnect with this amazing miracle - that we can provide nourishing, sustaining food for ourselves, and be surrounded by beauty while we are doing it.
Recipe for Cultured Tomato Salsa
Fresh Salsa is a great way to use summer's bounty. This recipe is basically for pickling fresh salsa. This type of pickling, called lacto-fermenting, enhances the enzymes and probiotics in the salsa, boosting it's nutritional component even further, and preserves it for up to several months.
Start with either homemade or store bought salsa. The fresh chopped tomato kind works best, but even the jarred kind will do.
Mix in 1 tablespoon of whey per cup of salsa. Whey is the clear liquid on the top of yogurt. To make your own whey to use as starter for all sorts of pickles and ferments, drain plain yogurt with active cultures through a tea towel or cheesecloth. Extra bonus of this process: he leftover yogurt will then be greek yogurt.
Put the salsa and whey mixture in a jar with a tight fitting lid, and leave out at room temperature for 2 days. This is to give the beneficial bacteria a chance to grow. It may start to bubble a bit, that's good. But it won't go bad because the bacteria are actually preserving it.
Store in the fridge after two days. The flavor will continue to develop. If you can wait that long, it tastes great after a couple of weeks in the fridge.
Use this delicious, extra nutritious salsa the same way you would regular salsa - with chips, with guacamole, on your morning eggs, on hamburgers...whatever you can think of.