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Pickling green tomatoes (and other vegetables as well)
Pickling is a very smart way to preserve vegetables for longer periods of time, and its discovery was probably not a coincidence. In all culinary customs around the world, pickling is used to make use of vegetables which are late season products and usually too immature to consume. For example, at the end of each summer I always have a handful of green tomatoes from my tomato plants, which do not mature enough due to declining temperatures. Pickling extends the shelf life of vegetables for wintertime, as well as makes use of immature crops, instead of dumping them in trash. Since vinegar is the key ingredient for pickling, it is also a great food for balancing the pH level of the intestines and promoting the growth of helpful bacteria. Bottom line, it is economic and healthy!
- 1 liter of water
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 1 table spoon of sugar
- 100 ml (a little less than ½ cup) of vinegar
- ½ lemon
- ½ to 1 kg (1 to 2 lbs) of tomatoes
- A bunch of parsley, dill and celery
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
Best container for pickling is a glass jar with a metal lid that seals well. Darker glass is better, but you can use clean glass, insuring you keep the pickles away from light.
Preparing the vinegar solution
Boil 1 liter of tap water for at least 10 minutes to kill whatever bacteria and chemicals it might contain. Towards the end of boiling, add 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of sugar and 100 ml of vinegar. I had red vinegar, but you can also use white vinegar as well. After boiling for 10 minutes, cover and lay aside to cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, start preparing the ingredients.
Preparing the tomatoes
Cut the tomatoes in half or in 4 pieces, depending on their size. Wash and chop parsley, celery and dill. You will just need a bunch of these herbs. If you do not have these handy, use small amounts of your favorite herbs. Clean 2-3 cloves of garlic, but do not crush them, because the vinegar will decompose the garlic and the taste might be too strong. Just use the cloves. Add the tomatoes, herbs and garlic to the glass jar.
After the vinegar solution is cooled to room temperature, add the juice of half a lemon, and pour the mix in the glass jar. The success of pickles has much to do with sealing it well, so that it will not be contaminated by air. To do this you must ensure that all the vegetables will be completely immersed in the vinegar solution, if not, they may rot or mold. A traditional solution was finding a stone, boiling it long enough to sterilize, then use this stone for your pickling projects. I use a more modern and handy trick. Take a small ziplock bag, small enough to fit in your jar, fill it with water, seal it well and check that the water is not leaking. Place the water-filled ziplock bag on top of the tomatoes, so it will press on them and immerse them completely in the vinegar solution. Let the liquid spill over the top, close and secure the lid. This will insure that there will be no air left in the jar. Use a tape to seal the lid and make the jar completely airtight. Use a piece of tape to note the date of pickling for reference.
Your pickles will be ready to eat in 2 weeks, but you can keep them longer if you don't open immediately.
Notes and thoughts
- You can use the exact same recipe given above, for any other vegetable. Try cucumbers, cabbage, pepper varieties, and even green beans and plums!
- Usually, the pickles are ready to eat in about 2 weeks. It is a bit shorter for tomatoes and a bit longer for beans and cabbage.
- Dill, celery and parsley are usually used as seasoning, but you can add your favorite herbs as well. Coriander is a good substitute for parsley. Use small slices of carrot with cabbage, as well as beans and peppers. Add just a slice of lemon with its skin as well, but not too much, the taste may be too pungent.
- You can use white vinegar instead of red, and even vinegar made from lemon, if available.
- An airtight jar of pickles can be kept for a long time in a dark spot and at room temperature, however once it is opened, you must store it in the refrigerator. Best is to start consuming them after the regular 2 weeks.
Hope you have fun!