Pickling green tomatoes, or how we made tomolives

Pickling green tomatoes, or how we made tomolives

I am a tomato-lover, so I have to admit, I'm sad that rainfall picked up this autumn right as the days got shorter and cooler.

Our tomato plants are now incredibly happy, bushy and full of green tomatoes that I fear will never ripen.

I started wondering Friday, is there any way to to make green tomatoes tasty and useful? (And no, frying them does not do anything for me.)

I stumbled on the idea of pickling them. I called my mom, a canner extraordinaire, to see what she thought about processing some quarts of green tomato pickles. She was concerned that they'd be too mushy.

So then, I started searching recipes for refrigerated green tomato pickles. I found a few, but this recipe for "tomolives" stood out. I like olives, and we have tons of small pear-shaped and cherry tomatoes.

I put pickling tomatoes on my to-do list for the weekend. I figured I'd procrastinate. I sometimes do. But it looked like rain Saturday morning, so I told myself I'd just go out to the garden and pick some green tomatoes before it got too muddy.

Then, as I washed two huge containers' worth of small tomatoes from three of our about 11 plants, I couldn't help but admire how crisp and firm they were. I knew I needed to stop putting it off and start pickling already.

I must confess, with the exception of making pickled jalapenos, I have never canned anything in my own kitchen. I do, however, have plenty of experience helping my mom. And I happened to have most of the supplies: jars, lids, even a huge enamel pot that Rob had to dig out of the garage and disinfect with a bleach solution. (It's been in there since I bought it secondhand at least three years ago. I was thrilled to finally use it.)

Blog PhotoSo, while seven quart mason jars sterilized in boiling water, Rob and I poked cherry tomatoes, sliced the bigger pear-shaped tomatoes in half and prepared spices.

We had to make the brine in two batches: one double-batch that filled four quart jars, and one single batch to fill three more.

I'm not sure if we over-filled our jars with tomatoes, or what, but we had a little brine left over. We tried pickling a few other things. More about that another day.

Here's the recipe. I got it from the blog Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Kitchen, but she said it's adapted from a recipe by David Lebovitz, Michael Ruhlman and Michael Symon. I also sterilized the lids, but didn't try to get them to seal or anything. I just wanted to give my pickles the best chance for lasting as long as possible.

Pickled Green Tomatoes
2 quarts cherry tomatoes or about 6 to 8 full-size tomatoes – firm and very green
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
3 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons sugar
4 garlic cloves, peeled
4 tablespoons coriander seed
4 tablespoons yellow mustard seed
4 tablespoons black peppercorns (I actually substituted white peppercorns in one jar, and tried going half-and-half in a couple others. I think black peppercorns sometimes overwhelm the rest of the flavors in brines)
4 bay leaves

(By the time I was packing the sixth and seventh jar of tomatoes, I'd run out of coriander and mustard. I substituted tablespoons of fennel and minced onion. We'll see how they turn out.)

Bring water, vinegar, salt, sugar and garlic to boil in a non-reactive saucepan. Boil five minutes.
Poke a hole withtoothpick, knife blade or skewer in each cherry tomato. Quarter whole tomatoes. Pack into sterilized jars.

Add 1 tablespoon each of seeds and one bay leaf to each pint jar. Double quantities if you are using quarts.
Pour hot brine over tomatoes. Cover and allow to cool. Refrigerate one week before sampling.

Update: To read about how they turned out, go to this blog post. Spoiler: they're tasty.




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