The more we grow our own food, the more I understand and appreciate farmers, especially how their lives can revolve around harvesting. As the cold temperatures creep in, I find myself pulled into the garden, collecting what is left of our summer herbs and vegetables, and then back into the kitchen as we preserve what we grew. We're also busy getting the garden ready for the winter season. We planted tatsoi, which grows even under the snow, and put garlic in the ground last week and have now begun the long wait until it's ready to harvest in July. I have less time for other things these days, but soon the garden will be in winter low-maintenance mode.
We had loads of tomatoes to pull off the vines before the frosts hit, and we ended up with about five pounds of ripe or nearly ripe and about the same amount of green tomatoes. We also had about three dozen jalapeños and about two dozen Hungarian wax peppers. Since our counters were overflowing with tomatoes and peppers, I wanted to try my sister's recipe for pickled green tomatoes. I call her The Canning Queen, a title she has worked hard to earn. She's been canning for about 20 years and making this pickle recipe for three years with great success. This year she put up 19 quarts of these delicious pickled tomatoes. They are good cut up in salads or as a snack right out of the jar.
DISCLAIMER: This method is not one I normally follow for canning as there is no processing after packing the jars; they self seal due to the heat of the cooked brine. If my sister hadn't done so much successful experimenting with it, I probably would have been leery of trying it. Still, if some of the jars don't seal, you will need to store them in the refrigerator. For maximum safety, refrigerate all the jars and use within a few months.
This month I find myself with multiple Grow Your Own posts since all of the tomatoes and peppers came from our garden, though this is not my official entry. Grow Your Own is a blogging event that celebrates the dishes we create from foods we've grown, raised, foraged, or hunted ourselves. If you are new to the event, you can read more about the rules for participating at the Grow Your Own page. Posts are due on October 30, so there is still time to participate. Send your post information and photo to me.
[Updated December 24, 2010.]
Featured in One Big Table, by Molly O'Neill, one of The New York Times' "Year's Best Cookbooks" for 2010.
Pickled Green Tomatoes
- 12 pint or 6 quart jars
- 12-16 quart pot
- 3 quart pot
- 6 quart pot
- lid wand
- canning funnel
- jar lifter
- 5 pounds green tomatoes (no red in the skin or meat - Romas or similar work well; also can use grape and cherry tomatoes whole as shown in photo above.)
- 2 quarts white distilled vinegar (5% acid)
- 3 quarts water
- 3/4 cup pickling salt
Seasonings (per quart jar, use half for pint jars)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon olive oil (optional, for flavor)
- ¼ teaspoon pickling spice
- 2 spicy peppers (anaheim, jalapeno, serrano, banana, Hungarian wax, or habanero, whole or sliced in half and seeded)
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill (or 1/4 teaspoon dry dill)
- ¼ teaspoon powdered alum (optional, keeps the tomatoes crispy)
- Sterilize jars, rings, and lids according to the instructions in Home Canning (Boiling Water Method). Keep the jars in the 12-16 quart pot and the lids and bands in the 3-quart pot with hot, not boiling, water. (Optional: My sister does the dishwasher method and turns on the heated dry cycle to get the jars good and hot just before adding the ingredients.)
- Rinse the tomatoes, peppers, and dill. Quarter the green tomatoes, removing any bad spots. Place the peppers and garlic in the bottom of the jars, then add tomatoes up to about 1/2 inch (1 cm) from rim of the jar. Add the olive oil, pickling spice, alum (optional), and fresh dill.
- In the 6-quart pot, cook vinegar, water, and coarse salt over high heat until it comes to a strong rolling boil. The jars have to seal based solely on the heat of this mixture, so keep it good and hot the whole time.
- Portion the vinegar solution into the jars, adding enough to cover the tomatoes and seasonings, but still leaving 1/2 inch (1 cm) of headspace. If the tomatoes were packed very tight, run a plastic spatula inside the jar to get rid of any air bubbles.
- Tighten lids and wipe off edges, and leave out on the counter for about 1 hour. Listen for the popping sound to make sure they seal. Label the jars when cool.
- To give the pickles time to develop flavor, set aside for at least two weeks before eating. Store in a cool, dark, dry place and use within 3 months.