PICKLED GREEN TOMATOES (POMODORI VERDI SOTTACETO) - AN EASY FALL TRICK!

     Pickling! Canning! Conserving! Preserving!... Whatever you like to call this process, boy, do I have a stress-free recipe for you! This method is great to preserve green tomatoes, but works also for other veggies, as well as mushrooms, and with a slight adjustment, for eggplants, too. 

    As a food enthusiast and a maximizer of recycling and repurposing, I never liked to see people dispose of green tomatoes at the end of the season, so I decided I would come up with some sort of a quick canning recipe that would still allow us to enjoy them throughout the winter months. 

    When I was young and would spend my summer vacations in a remote hill town of Calabria, in the deep Italian South, I remember partaking in the long process of canning fresh red tomatoes and thinking that as good as they tasted, just watching the old ladies go through the entire undertaking was quite exhausting in itself. After picking the ripened tomatoes in the fields, the men would place them in huge tubs and load them onto the family trucks to be brought up the mountain to their residence, where the members from two or three close families would gather in the musty basement of the biggest house, wear their aprons, pull up their sleeves, and start the time-consuming canning business. While waiting for the tomatoes to arrive, the women would have a huge pot with hot boiling water on the stove where they would blanch them. Some other women would have glass containers soaking in yet another huge pot of hot water to sterilize them; while us kids... would be stealing the fresh tomatoes and eat them in a corner away from the frenzy of it all! After blanching in the water, the tomatoes would then make their way to more tubs where they would sit before being dumped into the tank of a big industrial tomato strainer and passed through to make "passata" (tomato purée). Some of them would also be peeled first and then canned full to make "pelati" (or peeled tomatoes), all the while adding a few leaves of fresh basil to each glass jar. (I truly wish I were a poet to be able to describe the wonderful aromas we were engulfed in for days, as the truck loads kept coming to the hidden basement, and the preserving would resume all over again day after day until all of the tomatoes in the field had been picked). Surely, those moments and sensations will be forever imprinted in my mind!

    So, after reminiscing about my learning the true way tomatoes are canned, I thought I needed to start a new tradition in my family, and somehow pickling green tomatoes with my children every year around this time sounded like the perfect one . We usually ask the neighbors for their left over green tomatoes, but this year fate had it that 6 huge plants of beautiful Campari tomatoes would yield from some seeds I had spread in the yard a few months back. Unfortunately, these tomatoes will not ripen before the plants wilt, so this year we will be able to proudly say that we pickled our very own tomatoes. I hope you will take a liking to pickling as well, and I am curious to hear what other vegetables you will preserve!


PICKLED GREEN TOMATOES - POMODORI VERDI SOTTACETO
(Makes as many jars as you can fill!)
Ingredients: 
  • Green tomatoes - as many as you can gather from your friends, or from your garden)
  • 3 tbs EVOO per jar
  • Enough distilled white vinegar to cover the tomatoes to the rim of the jar
  • Fresh or dried spices (1/2 tsp each per jar): oregano, rosemary, ginger, red pepper for an added zing
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder/per jar (Based on my past experience, chopping fresh garlic and just adding it to the spices turns it an ugly blue color, so if you want to use fresh garlic, I suggest you blench it in 1 cup of hot water with 1tbs of salt and 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar for a few minutes before adding it)

Let's get pickling...

  • Sterilize as many jars as you want to fill (I was able to fit 8-9 halved Campari Tomatoes in 12.5 oz. glass jars with liquid). To sterilize the jars: wash them in the dishwasher on the sterilize/heated-dry settings, or simply wash them by hand and then place them without cap for 10-15 minutes in a pot of water that has boiled on the stove, and leave them to dry before filling them. (Save the water in the pot to be used again later to seal the jars)
  • Wash, dry, and half the tomatoes 
  • Sprinkle salt, pepper, and the spices on the bottom of each jar
  • Stuff the jars with the green tomatoes, and insert a few leaves of fresh rosemary in the center
  • Pour the EVOO on the tomatoes, and cover completely with the distilled white vinegar
  • Close the jar(s), and place in the same hot water that you used to sterilize the empty jars
  • Let sit for 5-7 minutes in the hot water
  • Remove from the pot, let cool for 15-20 minutes, and place in the refrigerator
  • The pickled green tomatoes will be ready to be consumed after 5 days from canning
Options

- If using fresh garlic (Please see the instructions in the post above)

-
When pickling other vegetables and mushroom, it's always a good idea to blench them first. 
To blanch: wash the vegetables. Boil some water in a medium pot with 2 tbs of white distilled vinegar. Shut off the stove, and dip the vegetables in the pre-boiled water for 5-7 minutes. Take them out,  and spread on a plate or kitchen towel to cool for another 5 minutes, and then start the pickling process as per above.

- When pickling eggplants - (Before starting the canning process
  • Wash, dry, and peel the eggplants 
  • Remove as many seeds as you can, and cut the eggplants in very thin slivers 
  • Fill a food graded container with 1/2 part water and 1/2 part distilled white vinegar 
  • Add salt and pepper
  • Cover the container, and let them sit overnight 
  • In the morning make sure you drain all of the juices out before placing them in the jars
  • The pickling instructions as per above will then apply

Buon Appetito!
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