Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pickled Green Tomatoes and Green Tomato Relish

Another exciting thing that happened last week was that my friend Patty emailed me to let me know that she and Edo had picked all of the remaining green tomatoes off of their tomato plants and she was hoping I could help her make pickles out of them. I've always thought it would be fun to do something with green tomatoes but I left most of ours up in Bellingham and I'm sure I wouldn't have gotten around to it at all if it hadn't have been for Patty's suggestion. I emailed her back to let her know that, of course, I would love to help out with the pickles. So later last week I set up my kitchen for canning and we got down to work.

First, I headed to my favorite canning resource: Ball's Complete Book of Home Preserving which I have mentioned before. I love it because it is full of tons of amazing recipes and canning tips but it also has all of the safety information that you need to know in order to can safely.

In it, I found 2 recipes that looked doable and that I thought use up all of the tomatoes we had: Dilled Green Tomatoes and Green Tomato Hot Dog Relish. I did quite a bit of canning last summer (blueberry jam, blueberry lime jam, raspberry jam, raspberry jelly, mango raspberry jam, raspberry cherry preserves, dill pickles, and pickled watermelon rind - actually, all that canning was probably why I stopped blogging for a couple of months!), but I hadn't canned in my smaller Los Gatos kitchen since last spring. Since I knew there would be two of us, I decided to get everything ready ahead of time so that it would all run smoothly.

We made the pickles first so I set out the ingredients for the pickling liquid. In the picture below you can see the white vinegar and the special pickling salt. I had never heard of pickling salt before this past summer, but apparently it is better to use than normal salt which can leave your pickling liquid cloudy.

When Patty arrived, she helped chop up the tomatoes while I peeled 16 cloves of garlic.

They looked so beautiful and green!

Once our pickling liquid was heating on the stove, we were reading to start packing our jars. I set up a little station with everything we would need to put in the jars: the chopped up tomatoes, a clove of garlic, a bay leaf, and 2 teaspoons of dill seed.

Over on the stove, I had the rest of the canning supplies laid out. I'm pretty sure this set up wouldn't work nearly as well on a gas stove (due to the burners), but since I've done all of my canning on electric stoves, this is what I have found works best for me.

The big canner is on the front right burner heating the water and glass jars. Behind it is a small saucepan with a small amount of water in which the new sealing lids are warming. On the back left burner is the pot of pickling liquid which is also hot. And in the front left corner I have set up my packing station. I covered a small baking sheet with a towel and have laid out a damp washcloth which I use to help me grip the hot jar when I need to tighten the lid, my canning funnel, a damp paper towel which I use to wipe the rim of the jar before adding the sealing lid, my gripping tongs that I used to transfer the hot jars into and out of the water bath, a kitchen knife that I use to remove air bubbles from the packed jars, and my magnetic wand which I use to pick up the sealing lids from their pot of hot water and place them on the jar.

Patty and I quickly figured out a good system. She added the tomatoes, garlic, bay leaf, and dill seeds to the jar and then I added the pickling liquid, removed the air bubbles, wiped the rim, added the sealing lid, screwed on the top and put the jar back into the water bath.

It worked out perfectly and went so much faster than it would have if I had been doing it all by myself. Soon we were processing our first batch:

And just a little later we had a fairly large collection of Dill Pickled Green Tomatoes. We tried them the next day, after they had cooled and they are very interesting. They taste a lot like dill pickles but they definitely have a different texture and a subtly different flavor from the tomatoes. I don't think we'll have any trouble eating all of them!

We also made the relish that afternoon. I don't have many pictures of it, but it turned out really well and Woodley and I enjoyed it on some sausages earlier this week. :)

Dilled Green Tomatoes*
From The Complete Book of Home Preserving by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine
*Please make sure you know how to safely can before trying out this recipe. Failure to use proper safety procedures can lead to canned goods that are poisonous. If you want to learn how to can safely, check out the book above.

Makes six to seven pint jars

3 1/2 cups vinegar
3 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup pickling or canning salt
5 lbs small, firm green tomatoes, halved or quartered, or green cherry tomatoes
6 to 7 cloves garlic
6 to 7 heads fresh dill (or 1/4 cup dill seeds or dried dillweed) {I used the dill seeds}
6 to 7 bay leaves

1. Prepare the canner, jars, and lids.

2. In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine vinegar, water, and pickling salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve salt. Remove from heat.

3. Pack tomatoes into hot jars to within a generous 1/2 inch of top of jar. Add 1 clove of garlic, 1 head of dill (or 2 tsp dill seeds or dillweed) and 1 bay leaf to each jar. Ladle hot pickling liquid into jar to cover tomatoes, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot pickling liquid. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.

4. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes (for pint jars). Turn off the heat and remove the canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool, and store.



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