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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tomolives - Pickling Green Tomatoes

One of my favorite pickles of all times is the classic garlicy green tomato pickle found at old-fashioned delis. For those of you in New York, be glad you have these pickles available whenever you might want. For the rest of us, it's difficult, at best, to find quality pickled green tomatoes.

That's why I decided to make my own a few years ago. And what prompted me to make little green cherry tomato pickles last year, I really can't say, but I'm glad I did. Tomolives are just wonderful in a martini, served as a casual appetizer, skewered with sharp cheese, or plucked from the jar while you stare into the depths of the refrigerator wondering what to have for lunch.

This is the second recipe I made for Linda Wertheimer when NPR came to visit the canning kitchen. These are refrigerator pickles, and will last for weeks, if not longer. I prefer these as refrigerator pickles as processing cooks the green tomato, and they lose some of the crispness.

If you aren't growing tomatoes, and don't have access to green ones, just ask at your farmer's market for a quart of green cherry tomatoes or a 6-8 green tomatoes. The farmer will be delighted to bring them in for you.

I use this pickle recipe for jalapenos (omit the chile pepper), cauliflower, baby carrots, pearl onions - really any vegetable! In fact, if I'm going out of town and have some vegetables that will not last while I'm gone, I can put up a jar of pickles in about 20 minutes, so nothing goes to waste. Play with the spices - allspice, juniper, fennel, dill seed, caraway - all add different tastes to your pickles. Have fun.

Pickled Green Tomatoes
Adapted from David Lebovitz, Michael Ruhlman and Michael Symon's pickle recipes
Makes four pints or two quarts of pickles

2 qt cherry tomatoes or about 6-8 full size tomatoes - firm and very green
2.5 c water
2.5 c white vinegar
3 T kosher salt
3 T sugar
4 garlic cloves, peeled
4 T coriander seed
4 T yellow mustard seed
4 T black peppercorns
4 bay leaves
4 small red chiles, optional

Bring water, vinegar, salt and sugar plus the garlic clove to boil in a non-reactive saucepan. Boil 5 minutes.
Poke a hole with a toothpick, knife blade or skewer in each of the cherry tomatoes.
Quarter the whole tomatoes.
Pack into sterilized jars.
Add 1 T each of the seeds, 1 bay leaf and one chile to each pint jar. Double the quantities if you are using quarts.
Pour the hot brine over the tomatoes. Cover and allow to cool.
Refrigerate for a week before sampling.


Liz the Chef said...

You are a lifesaver - I have a patch of "volunteer" Sweet 100's that I am, frankly, tired of and plan to pickle those little green guys!

Helen said...

Just found green tomatoes at the Old Oakland farmers' market . . . tomatoes are extremely difficult to grow here, in what nurseries describe as a "cool marine climate" (though blueberries do well), so I must rely on the farmers in warmer microclimates. I've been making green tomato chutney, and frying green tomatoes (classic style, as well just frying them plain, with no batter, in olive oil with a little salt) like mad since I first found the green tomatoes locally. This recipe is terrific. I cannot wait to try it! Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this with us!! ;o)

MrsWheelbarrow said...

I, too, love those fried green tomatoes! It's the acidic sharpness and the warm jelly that makes them so special. YUM. Let me know how the tomolives come out for you!

minor catastrophes said...

Dear Mrs. Wheelbarrow,
I heard you on NPR this morning, while driving to work. Here in Bozeman, MT, I woke to a slight glaze on the ground that threatened frost...unfortunately I have a TON of green (including cherry) tomatoes to use up. Was thrilled to get your recipe, which I'll try this weekend. Happy to have found your blog as well...

MrsWheelbarrow said...

Thanks, Minor Catastrophes, Glad to help with your green tomato abundance. And so sorry to hear about frost, but I have to admit - in DC it's a million degrees and frost sounds good.

Rochelleg said...

Love the idea of pickling green tomatoes! For years I've salvaged green tomatoes at the end of summer by cooking them down with garlic and hot peppers, then putting through a food mill, packing into jars to can, and used it as a 'green sauce' for Mexican dishes.

My brother mentioned one of his favorite meals is pickled green tomatoes and hot peppers served with black eyed peas and corn bread. Your recipe shared on NPR will work perfectly for this meal.


MrsWheelbarrow said...

Hi Rochelle, Thanks for stopping by. Your black eye pea dinner sounds fantastic. Enjoy the pickles.

kimby said...

I was delighted with your idea of pickling green tomatoes. Here in Wyoming, we never get all the tomatoes we should before the frost and I am always so sad. I am anxious to try this - I think my neighbors will be getting some for Christmas. I think I should process them though- any ideas for keeping them crisp would be appreciated. I have to also add I was giggling as the various canning accoutrements were being described. Do you think there were some listeners who didn't know what jar rings looked like? That is sad if it is true!

Anonymous said...

I heard the NPR story and just finished making these as my first canning experience.

What do you use the salt and sugar for in the above recipe?

MrsWheelbarrow said...

Holy cow! Thanks for catching that. The salt & sugar are added to the water and vinegar. I've made the change above. Thank you!

MrsWheelbarrow said...

Kimby, I tried processing the tomolives and they were really mushy, not at all appealing.
Last week, a very nice NPR listener got in touch with me to say the USDA does not recommend processing cherry tomatoes. So, put them in the fridge, where they will last a month or more.

gserf said...

Hi--heard you on NPR the other day and so glad I did..I am new to canning and am a magnet to advice! re: the green tomatoes--- after I make the recipe, can I place them in a freezable container and then freeze them after a weeks' time? or will they turn to mush? just have soooo many... thx

gserf said...

ooh sorry, one more question... can the coriander seed and the mustard seed be ground or do they have to be whole?

Anonymous said...

Haha - guess I made low-sodium and low-carb tomolives!

Could you add salt and sugar after the first week maybe?

MrsWheelbarrow said...

gserf: I wouldn't freeze these. They'll lose all integrity. Also, the ground spices would cause the brine to become cloudy, so make sure you use seed!

MrsWheelbarrow said...

If you forgot the salt and sugar, drain off the brine, bring it back up to heat with the salt and sugar, then pour it over the tomatoes again. Can't hurt! :)

Anonymous said...

Well done to NPR for highlighting your delectable hobby.

Two Questions:

How long will these keep on the shelf?

What about a recipe for pickled peppers?

MrsWheelbarrow said...

These are refrigerator pickles and will last a month or more in the fridge. Use the same ratio for brining/pickling peppers!

Anonymous said...

QUESTION: How do I process the pickled green tomatoes in this recipe so that I can store them in the pantry instead of the refrigerator?

This recipe should carry a caution about food storage and percent acid for the vinegar.

Background: I too learned about the recipe for pickled green tomatoes when I listened to morning edition (Public Broadcasting). I was very excited because . . . duh! . . . I have bushels of green tomatoes this year. When I looked up the recipe, it didn't include instructions for a water bath. The recipe stops with refrigeration. They sound like great Xmas gifts but . . . not if they must be refrigerated.

MrsWheelbarrow said...

This is a refrigerator pickle and is not made for processing. Processing cooks the little green tomatoes and makes them mushy.