This year I planted some heirloom tomatoes in my side garden, I got three old germans and three plants of which I forgot the name of (if I remember I promise I will let you know). I tried to hang one of each upside-down in buckets, but after about a month of limited growth I flipped those babies right-side-up and staked them and they were just fine. I digress.
Those plants were fruitful. I gave up pruning them after a while because it didn’t seem to affect the amount of fruit I got. I always got a lot. A ton
I had *gasp* too many tomatoes? This is when I realized that I needed to do something with them. I canned a lot of smooshed tomatoes (not really whole and not really crushed) for sauces later on… but I had baskets full of green tomatoes. I couldn’t leave them on the vine with the threat of frost here in the mountains, so I harvested (I only say it was a harvest because of the ridiculous amount coming from my tiny side garden).
Now, I am from the north, and I’m not a HUGE fan of friend green tomatoes… but I made them anyway. Marinated in buttermilk and tossed in seasoned breadcrumbs and right into the pan. They were yummy. But I could not, would not, make fried green tomatoes until december. I needed a more drastic approach.
I love pickles. Anything pickled I’ll eat (within reason people). I like throwing pickles in braised meat dishes, on fish, and in bloody marys. YUM.
I’ve never made a pickle before. Refrigerator pickles don’t count. So I had to do some research.
I consulted Food In Jars and the recipe they posted for small batch green tomato pickles, and also a basic brine recipe from my Ukrainian grandmother. I obviously did some tweaking, but pickles are pretty easy to make, and whatever herbs/spices/vegetables/fruit/etc you wanna throw in there…you can.
*If you are canning these for storage please consult the National Center for Home Food Preservation website and read their canning guides for processing times and safety tips. You cannot be too careful. I’m serious. Please don’t make your families sick.
My recipe is as follows… it is not precise because when it got down to it I was throwing a lil bit of this and a lil bit of that into the jars…
2 lbs. green tomatoes 1 cup water 1 cup white vinegar
3 tsp pickling salt (it needs to be pickling salt because it has no additives that will mess up your pickles)
2 tsp peppercorns 4 garlic cloves (or as many as you want, i love pickled garlic)
optional: 4 tsp dill or dill seed, 4 bay leaves, a bunch of mint leaves, a few green onion shoots, 2 tsp chile flakes, 2 tsp celery salt, etc. (if you need to clean out your spice rack – now is a good time)
1) weigh and wash tomatoes. let them dry in a colander while you’re getting other stuff set up. wash your hands too.
(weighing them will help you determine how much brine and schtuff you need.)
2) start your big ol pot of water (or pressure canner) to a boil so you can sterilize the jars & then process the pickles.
3) start sterilizing your jars. and lids and rings. and tongs. AND EVERYTHING that will be touching the brine or the pickles. Stick it all in the boiling water for a minute or so. (do not stick your hands in boiling water though)
4) assemble all your ingredients. get anything out and ready that you might want to use because you don’t want to be searching the cupboards once you’ve gotten started. if you’re feeling like an overachiever make a mise-en-place and pre-measure all the ingredients so you just dump it all in when it’s time.
5) prepare your tomatoes:
for medium tomatoes: (about the width of the jar) slice them (they will be sooo pretty)
for larger tomatoes: (larger than the width of the jar) cut em up! make half moons or something.
6) make the brine. combine the water and the vinegar and the pickling salt and get it to a simmery boil.
7) with STERILIZED tongs, or a jar-grabber (also sterilized) take a jar out of the boiling water & set it on your work space.
8) throw some of those herbs and spices in there.
9) throw in some tomatoes.
got some onions and/or other stuff? throw it in! and more herbs/spices!
add tomatoes until you’ve got them right to the bottom of the lip on the jar.
10) fill jar with vinegar until you’ve got about 1/4 inch of space from the tippy-top of the lid
11) with those STERILIZED tongs/grabber get out a lid and a ring and place the lid on the jar and the ring around the lid
do not tighten that lid too much (i heard that if you put the death grip on the ring it might cause the jar to burst..that would suck)
12) put the jar back in the boiling water for as long as the canning guide said to (I did around 15 minutes to be on the safe side)
13) take the jars out of the water and set them out for a day (don’t mess with them) after a while (if you’re around) you’ll hear the cans popping.
Or you’ll see that the lids look a little convex- that means they are sealed.
You can also test this by pushing on the seal, if it pops back up… it’s unsealed. if not…you’re good to go.
I came home to find all my jars sealed. If they aren’t seal you can try to process them again with a NEW lid (rings can be reused) but I’d just put them in the fridge.
14) eat your pickles.
give them some time to pickle, but holy cow are they yummy.
15) share your pickling recipes and stories with me.