I am drowning in tomatoes. Crunchy, tart, green cherry tomatoes. Correction, I was. By the time you read this, I’m well on my way to Pagosa Springs, Colorado, via a 10-day-ish road trip through Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico.
But this road trip was the impetus for the mad harvest last week of my rogue tomato plants, which have been exploding with fruit all summer long. When you’re away for 10 days, things on the homefront can feel a little stressful. Who will water the garden, who will weed the beds, who will check for pests and trim off the dead stuff and pluck all the ripe veggies so they don’t waste away?
When I saw the hundreds of green tomatoes hanging off the vines, just days away from ripening, my other thought was — who will eat all of that?!
And so, just three days before I was set to leave, I spent a sweaty afternoon picking as many green cherry tomatoes off my plants as I could, hoping to preserve them so I wouldn’t come home to a mass of over-ripened, rotting fruit.
The final tally came to 55 pounds. When you’re talking about cherry tomatoes, 55 pounds is a lot of tomatoes. I nearly tweaked my back hauling the harvest from the garden up to the house. (I know, I know — cue the violins.)
Since I didn’t have time to get creative and whip up some relish or chutney, I decided to pickle all of them — I can always turn those preserved tomatoes into relish later on. And because I was canning up a storm (32 quarts in all), I pickled them four different ways so I wouldn’t get too sick of them come next summer.
Guess what everybody’s getting for Christmas this year?
Four Ways to Pickled Green Tomatoes
Makes 1 quart
For every quart jar, you will need approximately 1 1/2 pounds of green cherry tomatoes.
For the Brine
1 cup white distilled vinegar (5% acidity)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Basic Pickling Spice
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
Dilly Garlicky Pickling Spice
2 teaspoons dill seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
4 cloves garlic, peeled
Hot ‘n Spicy Pickling Spice
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns *
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Curried Pickling Spice **
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon whole allspice
3/4 inch fresh ginger root, sliced into thin coins
Wash, dry, and slice cherry tomatoes in half.
In a saucepan, bring all the brine ingredients to a gentle boil.
Fill a hot, clean quart jar with the pickling spice mix of your choice. Funnel in the tomato halves and pack the jar tightly.
Pour the hot brine over the tomatoes, covering them completely and leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Stick a chopstick into the jar and move it around to release any trapped air bubbles (a process called “bubbling”).
Wipe the rim clean, seal with a lid and band, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes (adjust time for altitude as needed).
Store the jar in a cool, dark place. The green tomatoes will be perfectly pickled in about three weeks. Add to sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers, steaks, potatoes, or anywhere you would normally use relish. For a unique kick, you can even top off a Bloody Mary or dirty martini with a pickled green tomato garnish!
* Szechuan peppercorns can be found at well-stocked Chinese or Vietnamese supermarkets in the spice aisle.
** When making curried and pickled green tomatoes, bring the brine ingredients, curry powder, and brown sugar to a boil. Stir until the spices dissolve completely. Fill a hot, clean quart jar with cumin seeds, whole allspice, and ginger coins; pack jar with tomatoes; then pour the hot brine mixture over the tomatoes.