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No-Fuss Kosher Dill Pickled Green Tomatoes

Posted: 10/17/11 12:35 PM ET

Read more reports from Meathead's kitchen and grill deck at AmazingRibs.com

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 learn more about the different types of pickles and pickle production methods.

The best part of this recipe is that you can use it with green tomatoes, cucumber spears, and even cucumber slices for sandwiches.

2010-10-07-pickled_tomatoes.jpgWe 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.

Recipe

Yield. 1 quart jar
Preparation time. 90 minutes, aging time 1-2 weeks.

Ingredients 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 (about 4) 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 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 background.

About the vinegar. Use distilled vinegar. Any other vinegar imparts odd flavors.

Do this 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 is dissolved.

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 refrigerator.

Serve with a big honkin' pastrami sandwich on rye, easy on the mustard.

All text and photos are Copyright (c) 2011 By Meathead, and all rights are reserved

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