Fermented Cilantro Salsa for Chelation

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist Condiments, RecipesComments: 34

By Stanley Fishman, Author of Tender Grassfed Meat

Cilantro is a very old herb, which has been used in cooking and healing for thousands of years. Cilantro grew extensively in ancient Europe, where it was valued.  In fact, cilantro was considered so important in some areas, including ancient Britain, that only healers and priests were allowed to use it!

Perhaps that is the reason that cilantro is rarely used in European cooking, though it is native to the area.

In more modern times, cilantro has been found to contain a high level of antioxidants, and to have antibacterial qualities.  Researchers have found that cilantro will remove mercury, aluminum, and other metals from the brain, spinal cord, and other organs, and move it to peripheral tissues where it is easily removed and excreted by the natural functions of the body.Cilantro is widely used in cooking, especially in Latin America and Asia. The combination of Cilantro and tomatoes is one of the most traditional and popular condiments in Latin America.  I am convinced that food combinations become traditional because they are beneficial for both taste and health.

fermented cilantro salsaThis version of cilantro salsa is fermented. Fermentation increases the nutrient value, besides adding beneficial probiotics, and makes the fermented substances easier to digest and absorb.  This recipe was inspired and based on a fermented salsa recipe contained in Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon Morell’s magnificent cookbook. It is also based on the ingredients contained in the traditional Latin American condiments.

I recommend that you chop the ingredients for cilantro salsa by hand. Not only is this traditional, but it really seems to taste better.  Some food processors chop at such a high speed that they actually change the taste of the vegetables.  Since cilantro really binds to metal, it is best to use a glass bowl when making this recipe, and it should be stored in a glass jar.  Mason jars are ideal for storing this condiment.

The hot peppers are traditional, but optional. If you do include the hot peppers, be sure to be careful, using gloves when you handle them and never touching your eyes until your hands have been carefully washed.  Either way, this condiment is the tastiest way to remove toxic metals that I have ever come across.

Fermented Cilantro Salsa


3 medium ripe tomatoes, preferably organic or the equivalent
2 green onions, preferably organic or the equivalent
1 large or 2 small bunches of cilantro, preferably organic or the equivalent
4 cloves garlic, preferably organic or the equivalent
4 serrano peppers, or 4 jalapeño peppers, preferably organic or the equivalent, (optional)
4 tablespoons liquid whey (clear liquid from the top of a yogurt container)
2 teaspoons coarse unrefined sea salt (sources)


1. Wash all the vegetables thoroughly, and dry them. Chop the tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, and garlic very fine. Place the chopped vegetables in a large glass bowl.

2. If you are using the hot peppers, protect your hands by using disposable gloves. Remove the seeds, unless you really like it hot. Slice the peppers into small circular pieces, and add to the rest of the vegetables. Be sure never to touch your eyes until you wash your hands thoroughly.

3. Add the whey and the salt to the vegetables, and mix well.

4. Pour the mixture into a quart-sized Mason jar. There should be at least one inch of space between the top of the jar and the mixture. It is important that the mixture does not touch the lid.

5. Cover the jar, move to a dark place (I use the inside of a cupboard), and let rest for two days while the fermentation takes place, then refrigerate.

This condiment should last a few weeks in the refrigerator, though, to be honest, we always finish it
within a few days.

An alternative would be to add 1 to 4 teaspoons of bottled hot sauce, preferably thick and organic, after
the fermentation is complete. Stir well. This avoids the problem of handling fresh hot peppers.

This cilantro salsa goes great with all meats, which is the way such condiments are traditionally used in Latin
America. But you can eat it with almost any main course.

Stanley Fishman is the author of Tender Grassfed Meat, available through Amazon.com.   His book describes in detail how to cook grassfed beef, grassfed bison, and grassfed lamb. The book follows the nutritional principles of Dr. Weston A. Price, and uses only the best natural ingredients.

Comments (34)

  • Audry

    yum! I'm going to make this soon

    November 16th, 2010 4:05 pm Reply
  • Kat

    I love salsa with cilantro. Ever since I started making it that way, I haven't been able to go back to any of my older recipes. It's delicious!

    November 16th, 2010 4:06 pm Reply
  • Pavil The Uber Noob

    I learned the hard way about the hot peppers (but then I am a noob).
    This salsa is one of my more popular ferments. I usually serve it as a condiment alongside fermented bean paste. I like to eat them blended together.


    November 16th, 2010 5:13 pm Reply
    • maggie

      Hi Pavil the Uber Noob,How do you do do the fermented beans paste ,please,thanks,maggie

      May 8th, 2012 3:42 pm Reply
  • Pavil The Uber Noob

    Stanley, am I correct in understanding that you do no peel your tomatoes?


    November 16th, 2010 5:17 pm Reply
  • Stanley Fishman

    Pavil,I wash the tomatoes well with a natural vegetable wash, but I do not peel them.

    Traditionally, they were not peeled, and I try to keep the ingredients close to the traditions.

    November 16th, 2010 6:17 pm Reply
  • Anonymous

    Love cilantro and eat it every chance I get. It's a great detoxifier, so there it's healthy for you as well as delicious. Thanks for this post Sarah and Stanley! :)

    November 16th, 2010 6:42 pm Reply
  • Melissa

    I tried fermented salsa a couple of years ago, and it lasted in the fridge for a couple months. I will definitely have to try this recipe :) My husband is a big Mexican food fan!

    November 16th, 2010 8:08 pm Reply
  • FloridaSusan

    The evidence on cilantro as a "heavy metal chelation" herb is sketchy at best. This "herban legend" is based on one paper which was not so much research as it was speculation. The chelation effects have NEVER been proven, so remain speculation. Don't get me wrong, as an herbalist, I love cilantro for its antioxidant and antiinflammatory qualities. But the chelation myth is getting a little out of hand.
    ~Susan in Florida

    November 17th, 2010 1:34 pm Reply
    • Louise

      It’s not a myth, it really does pull out mercury, but it doesn’t grip hold long enough to guarantee getting it out of your body. This is why chelating with cilantro is super dangerous, especially when you still have amalgam (silver) fillings – they’re 50% mercury and all you will do is pull out even more from them and drop it elsewhere in your body.

      I’ve read first hand accounts from many people who have made themselves deathly ill by eating cilantro (coriander leaf).

      I would advise people only eat this if they don’t have any amalgam fillings. For more info on removing mercury safely look up the Cutler Protocol, and the IAOMT website for safe amalgam removal protocol.

      October 8th, 2014 1:43 am Reply
  • The Grunder Family

    Hello Sarah,

    Just made the salsa and had a couple of questions… how long does whey last in the fridge and the only garlic I had was the bottled kind and it has xanthum gum in it. Will this affect the fermenting process at all. The whey I have is at least 6months old too…thanks!

    November 17th, 2010 4:59 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Hi Rachel, whey lasts 6 months in the fridge. As long as it doesn't have any mold on it, you should be fine. You might have trouble using bottled garlic as it was not fresh and would add a mold risk to the batch. It will probably be fine, but watch it closely.

    November 17th, 2010 5:15 pm Reply
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  • Katie

    Hello –

    This was my first time fermenting anything! :-) I just whipped it up on Sunday and stuck it in the cupboard (with the lid on) for 2 days. When I took it out of the cupboard, there was a layer over the top of the salsa. It’s so weird. I thought it was mold by looking at it (it’s kind of a whitish-gray color), but I was able to pick up the whole layer and it stayed as-is… it almost feels like a coffee filter or something – it’s thin and like…papery.

    What is the deal? Is this normal? Or is it mold? Is the batch ruined? Just a note, the whey that I used was from homemade yogurt and it may have had some yogurt bits in it… not sure if that makes a difference.


    August 10th, 2011 12:04 am Reply
  • maggie

    Oh ,Cilantro it is in my kitchen all year round,I’m adicted it to it,in everything, but never fermented , right after I finish reading I will go and make it, thanks,
    ps: by the way today is a week and half that I;m fermenting couliflower,red onion,and carrots, I tasted it it is awesome but I’m going to leave one more week,just wonderful,maggie

    April 8th, 2012 4:31 pm Reply
  • maggie

    Voilaaaaaaaa, I just finish my fermented cilantro salsa, but I roasted the garlic , do you think will be any problem, I always made this salsa daily but not fermented, so, I have to give you Sarah my congratulations to you

    May 8th, 2012 3:46 pm Reply
  • devora


    I cannot get good quality whey? can i just use extra salt?

    January 22nd, 2013 12:37 pm Reply
  • sara

    where do you get the whey? in what form is it? I assume this whey is not the whey protein…

    August 1st, 2013 1:11 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Liquid whey … the clear liquid on the top of a quart of plain yogurt. I have a video on how to strain it out easily on this blog if you do a quick google in the search box in the purple menu bar in the header.

      August 1st, 2013 1:40 pm Reply
  • Ziv

    can i quit the whey?

    August 1st, 2013 3:17 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Yes just double the salt and you can not use the whey.

      August 2nd, 2013 8:58 am Reply
  • Pei

    We can not use whey do to allergy. Is there other way to make this without whey? Perhaps just salt?

    August 1st, 2013 3:25 pm Reply
  • bethany

    Is there any problem using cilantro when you are nursing? I wouldn’t think so since it is a food, but the thought crossed my mind.

    August 2nd, 2013 8:52 am Reply
  • cynthia stauffer

    we have a dairy allergy in our house, too. what can we use instead of whey?

    August 2nd, 2013 3:20 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Double the amount of sea salt.

      August 2nd, 2013 4:44 pm Reply
  • Susy

    I am curious whether this would work with dried cilantro? I purchased some from Mountain Rose Herbs… Okay, I accidentally purchased a pound because I was not aware of how much cilantro that would be. Now I need a way to use it up!

    August 4th, 2013 1:39 am Reply
  • Theresa

    When I opened up the jar of fermented salsa from the cabinet after 2 days there were a couple spots that looked like it was mold on top layer. Should I throw the batch out? This didn’t happen the last time I made the fermented salsa.


    January 30th, 2014 11:42 am Reply
  • Celeste

    I have canned organic tomatoes on hand may I use those in place of fresh? If so, how much?


    June 24th, 2014 10:35 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      No, canned tomatoes are a mold risk when it comes to fermentation.

      June 24th, 2014 10:57 am Reply
  • Christina Henry via Facebook

    What does this taste like? Like an acidic salsa?

    October 8th, 2014 11:36 pm Reply
  • Carole Baker

    LOVE this recipe. Shared this on @LiquidHope Twitter and Facebook today! (I run their social media.) Thank you!

    January 6th, 2015 11:55 am Reply
  • Jessica

    Should the liquid cover the tomatoes? Mine doesn’t quite cover and I don’t know if I should leave as is or add water.

    April 29th, 2015 5:20 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Yes, the veggies should be covered with about an inch at the top of the mason jar before you screw on the lid.

      April 30th, 2015 8:17 am Reply
  • CJ

    Pavil the Uber Noob, I’m also interested in your fermented bean paste. I’ve made kombucha, fermented vegetables of different sorts, and I’m going to make the cilantro salsa. I would love to try the fermented bean paste! What fun.

    July 28th, 2015 2:25 pm Reply

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