My garden is heaving its last breath. The tomatoes are green and show no
inclination toward joining my salads. But they will not go to waste! A few
will become fried green tomatoes for Sunday breakfast, and the rest will
become the deli delicacy, pickled green tomatoes.
In my favorite delicatessens there's a bowl of pickled green tomatoes on
every table, and I have been known to burn through the whole bowl. If you
love these crunchy, thick walled, salty, sour, spicy, herbaceous treats like
I do, wait 'til you see how easy they are to make. This "refrigerator pickle"
technique is almost foolproof. No lengthy temperature-critical fermentation,
and no sterile canning. But they must be kept refrigerated. The best part of
refrigerator pickles is they remain crunchy for months. Pasteurized pickles
get mushy. Click here to href="http://www.amazingribs.com/recipes/my_ingredients/zen_of_pickles.html"
target="_hplink">learn more about the different types of pickles and pickle
The best part of this recipe is that you can use it with green tomatoes,
cucumber spears, and even cucumber slices for sandwiches.
We usually pick the tomatoes the day before the first hard freeze, because frost can make them mushy. When you're finished with the jar, don't dump the juice. You can add more tomatoes or cukes. After the second use, the brine gets a bit thin, so don't reuse it more than once.
Yield. 1 quart jar
Preparation time. 90 minutes, aging time 1-2 weeks.
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 pound firm green tomatoes (about 5 plum tomatoes) or pickling cucumbers
1/2 serrano chile, stem removed
6 medium garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in half
4 tablespoons dill seeds
1/2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
About the veggies. If you want to do cucumber pickles,
buy pickling cukes. They are usually 4 to 6" long and have small seeds and
crunchy skins. They should be cut lengthwise into halves or spears. You can
leave them whole, but they will take longer. If you do tomatoes, they can be
any breed, they must be all green, no orange allowed, and they should be cut
in half or quarters.
About the water. Distilled water is best because it is
purer and impurities can impart odd flavors, but, unless you have strong
tasting tap water, it usually works fine. You can usually find distilled
water in the grocery or drug store.
About the salt. It is important to use kosher salt in this
recipe. It has fewer impurities, and if you use another salt you will need
to change the quantity. Click here to href="http://www.amazingribs.com/recipes/my_ingredients/zen_of_salt.html"
target="_hplink">learn more about salt and how to convert quantities.
About the chile pepper. I usually add 2-4 small red hot
chiles per pint, each no bigger than a marble, usually Black pearls or
fiestas, which we grow outdoors in pots in the summer, and bring indoors
over winter. But they are hard to find, so serranos will work fine. If you
can't find fresh peppers, you can use 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
Don't worry, they don't make them hot, they just add complexity in the
About the vinegar. Use distilled vinegar. Any other vinegar
imparts odd flavors.
1) Make sure you have a really clean bottle and lid. The lids must have good
rubber seals. The best thing to do is buy canning jars and lids from Ball.
They are in a lot of hardware and grocery stores. Sterilize them by
submerging them in a boiling water bath.
2) Add the garlic, dill seeds, and peppercorns to the jar.
3) Thoroughly wash the tomatoes and slice them in halves or quarters. Cut
out all bad spots and the stem ends. Cram them in the jar leaving about 1/2"
to 3/4" of space at the top.
3) Make the brine by combining the vinegar, water, and salt in a
non-reactive sauce pan or pot. Bring to a boil, and stir until all the salt
4) Pour the hot brine over the tomatoes to within 1/4" of the top. Wipe the
jar top, put the lids on and tighten. Age for at least 2 days in the
Serve with a big honkin' pastrami sandwich on rye, easy on the mustard.
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