Back in early November, before the frosts had withered every living thing in my garden I had enough foresight to pick all the remaining tomatoes off the vine and store ‘em indoors. Red, green or somewhere in between, it didn’t matter, I brought them in en masse. Over the next two weeks some ripened up, but a stubborn handful remained tough and green.
Pickling is a great way to deal with these summer stragglers. The brining process not only breaks down their tough texture, but also heightens their under-ripe acidity into something altogether new. The jar I opened this week (4 ½ weeks old) was really singing! The salty, tart taste and softness of the tomatoes was similar to Umezuke (Japanese pickled plums) and are the perfect star for your holiday cheese/pickle plate, or speared in a New Years martini instead of a boring old olive.
All you need to get quick-pickling is some mason jars (plenty of those around here!), lids, tongs, a pair of wooden chopsticks and an eye for cleanliness. Nasty microbes will only get into your cans or jars if you let them lounge around on your cutting boards, counters and hands. Run a spotless operation and have no fear.
If you need help with cleansing your jars, or have any questions about the quick-pickling (or the even more interesting full on canning) process I suggest Janet Chadwick’s Beginners guide to Preserving Food at Home, or hit up the Bernardin website.
The recipe I used is just the barest bones, with little to jazz it up, so feel free to add any herbs and spices you think would give it a bit more soul. Dill seeds and fresh dill fronds are classic additions, as are fennel, cumin, pearl onions, thyme, Asian spices like Sichuan peppercorns and star anise(perhaps with rice vinegar instead of white). If you are a spice fiend you can increase the amount of chili peppers and chop them finely so that the jar is filled with nuclear-hot chili seeds. Play around with it, have fun and find something that fits your tastes.
Happy New Year everyone!
Pickled Green Tomatoes (Fills 1- 500ml Mason Jar)
- 1 – 500ml (that’s about ½ quart) Wide Mouth Mason Jar
- 1 ¼ Cups Small Green Tomatoes (washed, stems removed)
- 3 Garlic Cloves (cut in half)
- 2-3 Small Red Chilli Peppers (left whole)
- 1 Dried Bay Leaf
- 1 Tsp. Whole Black Peppercorns
- ½ Tsp. Whole Mustard Seeds
- 1 Cup (240ml) Water
- ½ Cup (120ml) White Vinegar
- 2 Tbls. (25g) Sugar
- 1 Tbls. (16g) Kosher Salt
- Cleanse and sterilize your Mason Jar and lid in boiling water according to the manufacturer’s directions and set ‘em aside on a clean, dry surface.
- Mix the tomatoes, garlic, chillies and dried spices together and firmly pack them into the jar. Heat up the water, vinegar, salt and sugar in a small saucepan and stir until it’s just about simmering. The salt should dissolve and the liquid will be clear. Pour the still-hot liquid into the jar, filling it to about ½ inch from the rim. Watch your fingers!
- Expel any air bubbles in the jar by running a couple of clean wooden chopsticks between the vegetables and jar. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean, damp cloth and slap on the lid. A properly sealed lid is depressed in the center and wont leak if the jar is flipped upside down.
- Leave the jar to sit at room temperature overnight before transferring it to the refrigerator. Once opened the tomatoes will last up to 3 months as long as they hang out in the fridge… but with all the cocktail parties you’ll be throwing, I doubt they’ll last that long.
Music To Drink Martinis To:
Verve Remixed – The First Ladies