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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What to Do with All Those Green Tomatoes?

Posted by on Tue, Oct 23, 2012 at 10:08 AM

Pickled green tomatoes are a crunchy treat.
  • Goldy | The Stranger
  • Pickled green tomatoes are a crunchy treat. (And friends assure me that the pickled green cherry tomatoes work great in martinis.)

On Sunday, I harvested the last of my garden tomatoes before the cold and the rain could rot them on the vine. It was my latest harvest date in years.

I ended up with a good sized bowl of ripe tomatoes of various sizes, and half as many again of those that had started to turn color, and thus offer the promise of ripening on the counter. But what to do with the many rock-hard green tomatoes left over?

Me? I pickle them!

Pickled green tomatoes—sour and crunchy—were a staple of the East Coast delis I grew up with, and you can find a couple decent jarred varieties in supermarkets out here—both Bubbies and Ba-Tampte make a decent product. But they're not cheap, and local gardeners end up with green tomatoes in abundance, so why not make your own?

For my kosher dills and my sauerkraut I use a traditional no-vinegar recipe in which the vegetables ferment in a well-seasoned salt-brine solution, but for my pickled green tomatoes I follow a variation on a recipe I found in a 1950's era Kerr Home Canning handbook:

Green Tomatoes
Celery
Green Peppers
Garlic
2 quarts water
1 quart white vinegar
1 cup salt
1 bunch of dill
Pickling spice

Pack firm green tomatoes (no sign of ripening) into jars, along with pickling spice, garlic cloves, and cut pieces of celery and green pepper (adjust quantities to taste). Make a brine of the water, vinegar, and salt, and boil the dill in it for five minutes. Split up the dill between jars, and then pour the hot brine into them, and seal at once. Should be ready in four to six weeks.

The old Kerr recipe doesn't call for it, but I keep my pickled green tomatoes in the fridge to assure maximum crunchiness. We're just finishing off a jar from last year's batch, so that gives you an idea of their longevity.

 

Comments (20) RSS

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Catalina Vel-DuRay 1
The neighbor lady growing up always had a huge vegetable garden, and did the best spicy green tomatoes.

But let me advise anyone who is interested in trying this - you have to be particularly careful when canning tomatoes. Goldy's recipe assumes a certain amount of knowledge of that.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay http://www.danlangdon.com on October 23, 2012 at 10:17 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 2
I grew up amongst Jewish delicatessens. One of my favorites!
Posted by Pope Peabrain on October 23, 2012 at 10:23 AM · Report this
3
Do you worry about standard canning methods? It sounds like you're not processing the cans after you pour in the hot liquid. Even refrigerated, the guidelines these days say it won't last more than a month or two. Thoughts on that?
Posted by kap0w on October 23, 2012 at 10:31 AM · Report this
quix 4
Pickles are fine, if a bit uninspired. Give green tomato pie a try, though. It's reminiscent of apple pie, and is a bit more unexpected than the same old pickles and fried green tomatoes.
Posted by quix on October 23, 2012 at 10:32 AM · Report this
5
I think the "seal at once" advice was Goldy's nod toward traditional canning methods. If you're not familiar, this recipe for sweet pickled tomatoes includes some mighty fine instructions on how to can safely. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/micha…
Posted by melodnium on October 23, 2012 at 10:48 AM · Report this
6
My parents would do both pickles and tomatoes every fall. They added their own special touches to each respectively and made them a delicious staple in our family throughout the winter. Relatives would look forward to events in our home and relish a chance to taste their savory pickles and harvest salsa.
Posted by CommonKnowledge on October 23, 2012 at 10:49 AM · Report this
7
Fried green tomatoes (obviously) are an easy one. I also made chow chow (a green tomato relish common in the South) this year. And every year I make green tomato marmalade. I first had the marmalade in France and have been smitten ever since. This isn't my recipe but it looks like it would work (http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1623,158…). I slide my lemons thin with the skin on and add pickling spice. Yummy!
Posted by ddmama on October 23, 2012 at 10:55 AM · Report this
8
^slice, not slide
Posted by ddmama on October 23, 2012 at 10:56 AM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 9
Thanks for that link, melodnium! I am very much pro-canning, having been raised around people who canned absolutely everything that is cannable. But since it is something that is being rediscovered, I think it is important to stress the intricacies of the process - and that is especially true for tomatoes.

Canning was apparently very popular in Seattle at one time, based on the amount of "canning stoves" I've seen in basements. I know that City Light used to teach classes on both how to can and freeze.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay http://www.danlangdon.com on October 23, 2012 at 11:28 AM · Report this
Goldy 10
I don't really consider "canning" and "pickling" to be the same craft. I have a large pressure canner that I use to can things like red tomatoes and roasted peppers. And things can go wrong if you don't do it right. You don't want to mess with botulism.

But pickling is very safe. The USDA says there are no reported cases of food poisoning from home fermented vegetables, and trust me, not much can live in this salty acidic brine that I use for the green tomatoes. The taste and the texture goes long before they'd make you sick.
Posted by Goldy on October 23, 2012 at 11:36 AM · Report this
11
Uhhhh slice them thin, batter and fry. Fried Green Tomatoes.... try it ..
Posted by samwaynesmith on October 23, 2012 at 11:41 AM · Report this
12
Goldy, do you get your pressure cooker tested? I have pressure canned a few things (puttanesca sauce and chicken sausage pasta sauce), but I'm so afraid of botulism I end up boiling the sauce for 30 minutes after opening the jar (just to be sure). Everything I read says you should get your canner "tested at the extension office annually" to be sure your gauge is accurate.
Posted by ddmama on October 23, 2012 at 1:57 PM · Report this
Sandiai 13
I'm loving the SLOG gardening segments.

Goldy's right about pickling. With enough acid and salt, one needs to only boil at 212 to kill bacteria and fungi that will rot your veggies. Clostridium spores are not killed at that temp, but are killed by both low pH and high salt. However, if you're not going to use vinegar or a brine you have to get the temp up above 240.

My question is whether Goldy pokes holes in the tomatoes. Pickling is safer if the vinegar can get inside the vegetables (I hear).
Posted by Sandiai on October 23, 2012 at 3:00 PM · Report this
wingedkat 14
I really wish I had time to do this, considering the vast number of green tomatos I'm trying to use up.

Unfortunately, right now is not the time for me to learn a new cooking skill. Next year, I'll learn how to can and pickle over the summer, so I'm an old pro when the frost starts attacking my veggies.
Posted by wingedkat on October 23, 2012 at 3:24 PM · Report this
15
@Sandiai, that's what the person who taught the pickling class I took told me--that you have to cut the skin of the vegetable to let the vinegar in (salt brining is different, I think).
Posted by ddmama on October 23, 2012 at 3:25 PM · Report this
Goldy 16
@12 I have a dual gauge canner with a weighted gauge. The weighted gauge is always accurate, and never needs adjusting.

Personally, I've never canned anything low acid, or any meat, so I don't worry much about botulism in my home canned foods (generally, tomatoes, roasted peppers, tomato sauce, jam, and fruits).
Posted by Goldy on October 23, 2012 at 6:57 PM · Report this
beelzebufo 17
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/green-tomat…

This cake is excellent. Just don't tell them what they are eating until after they try it.
Posted by beelzebufo on October 23, 2012 at 6:59 PM · Report this
18
i just made my first can of pure salt brine fermented green cherry tomatoes. My questions are: Does anyone have any tips on keeping them crunchy? How long do they take without vinegar? Katz recommends grape leaves but I dont know where I might find any (as I assume they would need to be fresh).

They're going on two days and have yet to start bubbling much. The fermented dill pickles I was making over the summer only took 3-4 days.
Posted by Elmejortaco on October 23, 2012 at 7:54 PM · Report this
Sandiai 19
Thanks @15.
Posted by Sandiai on October 24, 2012 at 2:15 PM · Report this
20
Hmmm...the Sunday "Bible Study" posts have been changed to "Mormon" study, and now we find out that Goldy is a closeted food preservationist? Just sayin'...

Posted by Lonesome Cowboy Burt on October 25, 2012 at 7:31 AM · Report this

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